Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In Teacher's Clothing

Bill Gates' front group, Educators4Excellence, has gotten yet another piece into a major publication. This piece, platitudinous and prosaic though it is, is important. Clearly they are trying to represent themselves as a group that speaks for teachers. In fact, their leaders are not teachers. They claim 3,000 members, but that's likely all the people who signed up for free pretzels at their ridiculous get togethers (since attendance entails signing a loyalty oath.)

I myself have not signed the oath, but I know people who have, including prominent UFT members. Anyone who wants to hear what pearls of wisdom emanate from the lips of the Gates-funded ex-teachers has to agree with their "principles," such as they are.

Most offensive is not the article itself, but the description at the bottom. They claim to be: organization that works to ensure teachers' voices are included in the creation of policies that affect their profession and their students.
Of course, this is hardly the case. Any organization that's funded by corporate "reformers" does not represent teacher voices. I'm a teacher voice and they certainly don't represent me.

The non-teachers who wrote this will not be affected by their actual policy stance--getting rid of teacher seniority. They'll be off to some job with the Gates Foundation or Michelle Rhee or someone like that.

Who will be hurt? Working Americans. Why shouldn't years of seniority represent some sort of job security? When I lost my job, "excessed," I never stood up and said, "I'm better and more knowledgeable than the senior teachers with decades more experience than I have." I busted my butt looking for another job and found one, with no help from Bill Gates or anyone. However, I was younger, single, I had no family and no mortgage. I was in a much better position to find another job.

It's clearly more difficult for older teachers, or there would be no problem with the ever-increasing ATR brigade. Young teachers find jobs quickly while older tenured teachers linger endlessly. Whether overt or not, there's certainly age discrimination. Not only teachers, but all American workers merit job protections.

Am I saying we need to protect incompetence? Of course not. However, given a DOE that removes teachers for offenses like handing out watches to high-achieving students, reporting malfeasance via company fax machines, bringing plants to school, or just plain orneriness, we need due process. And yes, experience merits consideration, even if the non-tenured non-teachers at E4E claim otherwise.
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