Monday, October 23, 2017

UFT Says Low Standards Good Only for ESL Teachers

Like everyone who has the slightest regard or respect for education, I'm happy to see UFT and NYSUT file suit to stop the SUNY Charter Authority from producing teachers like Pop Tarts. I mean, what is it, a few dozen hours in a classroom, a few dozen hours of training, and voila! You're a teacher.

In some ways, though, I understand. After all, in Moskowitz Academies, teachers don't write their own plans. They get them pre-written, and all they have to do is follow instructions. You don't have all of that human stuff interfering with Whatever Eva Says. So maybe they don't need training. I'm not familiar with what they do in Moskowitz Academies. But I have seen scripted lessons.

You know, that's when you read from a script, like an actor. Except you probably don't have to audition so intensely. After all, getting a charter gig is not quite as challenging as getting a public school position. In fact, people I know who've been discontinued and suspended pick up charter gigs to get by. I'm not saying that those people are necessarily bad teachers. I know some who were simply railroaded by the DOE and/ or crazy supervisors. But if they were bad teachers, well, they'd be looking for those charter gigs anyway. Few people who could get a union job in a public school would opt to work for Eva.

The thing is, though, in NY State, that low standards are fine for people who teach my subject. If you want to put me or my brother and sister ESL teachers out of work, all you need to do is take 12 credits, become dually licensed, and make us redundant. After all, who needs an ESL teacher like me when you could use an ESL/ math teacher? Instead of learning nonsense like how are you, or how to order in a restaurant, you could build your vocabulary with words like hypotenuse. Of course this has everyday uses. For example, if you should ever meet a beautiful girl named Potenuse, you could greet her with Hi, Potenuse!

You see how practical that is? And if that's not enough, you could be dual licensed in ESL and Spanish. That way, while you're teaching Spanish to Spanish speakers, your principal could pretend you were concurrently teaching English. While it's highly unlikely the students would actually learn English in a native Spanish class, it's good enough for the geniuses in Albany, so why worry?

It's disconcerting, though, when I look at the UFT paper and find ads for people to take 12 credits and make me unnecessary. I mean, I have a Master's in Applied Linguistics and I didn't get it by enrolling in a few discount courses I found in a paper. I also actually teach the English language to newcomers. I don't give lessons in the Magna Carta and hope that, in the same time American kids learn about Magna Carta, the newcomers will learn not only that but also the English language.

Of course I'm just a lowly teacher, and I don't breathe that rarified air they have up in Albany. Over there they have higher standards than we do. I couldn't possibly comprehend how students could learn English by studying math, science, music, Chinese, or French. Of course, I've actually studied language acquisition. In fairness, that hinders my ability to understand how ignoring everything we know about it helps language learners.

So I have no doubt, when UFT and NYSUT sponsor cheap courses, effectively enabling NYSED to twist knives in the backs of working ESL teachers, they must have a very good idea what they're doing. Or maybe they don't, and haven't even given it a thought. Either way, you can imagine the gratitude I must feel.
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