Saturday, July 28, 2007

Full Speed Ahead

Mayoral control is set to sunset in 2009. What does mayoral control mean for teachers?

Well, it means thousands of them are overpaid subs with virtually no chance of landing real teaching jobs. It means principals have to decide between paying 40K for a new teacher and 80K for an experienced one. Take a look at suburban schools, the many excellent ones that surround the city, and ask yourself how many of their new hires have 20 years of experience, let alone get paid for it.

It's meant an atmosphere of fear and loathing the likes of which I've not seen in over 20 years. It's meant a system in which higher test scores are loudly trumpeted in the press, and lower ones are just as prominently ignored. It's meant a system in which "accountability" is the watchword, even though it applies exclusively to working teachers (whether or not they've actually done anything negative).

It's meant a system in which the first reorganization didn't work, the second reorganization didn't work, and one in which the third reorganization, the one which encourages "McTeachers," is loudly and wrongheadedly endorsed by the United Federation of Teachers. Randi Weingarten, UFT President, takes a page from her idol, Hillary Clinton, and endorses this disaster despite overwhelming evidence it's utterly failed to help her constituents:

"There's lots and lots of my members, as well as parents, who believe the governance system has to be changed," the president of the United Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, said. Ms. Weingarten, who originally supported mayoral control, said she stands by her admiration for Mr. Bloomberg's decision to take over the schools. "Until he said let me control the schools, there was never a mayor who put his entire political capital behind the schools," she said.

I had a great English teacher who once said, "Once people use the word but, you can forget everything they said beforehand. Only after but do they tell you what they really mean. I often tell my kids, "When your girlfriend says she really loves you but---it's time to look for a new girlfriend."

Ms. Weingarten acknowledges UFT members oppose the system. But she stands by her decision to support and enable mayoral control. Ms. Weingarten's job is to represent the interests of working teachers. The majority of working teachers in New York City now have fewer than five years experience, and are unlikely to stick with it.

But they pay dues anyway. It behooves Ms. Weingarten to consider beyond that, and to also think of what's good for those of them that will stay on. Career teachers are good for our kids, and also good for our union.

Thanks to 17 More Years
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