Friday, July 15, 2016

Teachers--Guilty Until Proven Innocent

The NY Post knows a failing teacher when it sees one. Anyone who wasn't hired back at John Adams, to the NY Post, is a "failing teacher" and "inept." One good thing, for the NY Post is this--they make these assertions with no evidence whatsoever, and evidently the libel laws in this country are lax enough that they do so with impunity.

I worked at John Adams for about seven years. I transferred because my supervisor gave me an ultimatum. She had a Spanish teacher who threw kids out of the class all the time and I never did that. So she wouldn't have to be bothered with the kids being tossed out, she wanted me to teach all Spanish. Otherwise she was going to give me a schedule late enough that it would preclude the second job I had taken to pay my mortgage. I left on a UFT transfer.

If I hadn't done that, the NY Post would likely be calling me inept and failing. I don't think anyone with a choice would hire me as a teacher. While I don't get complaints about my actual teaching, I am fairly confident my principal would back me up when I say I am a pain in the ass. Seriously, who wants to deal with the likes of me when you can pick and choose anyone you wish? It's a lot easier to run a school when you can just ignore the contract and do whatever the hell you like.

Actually I was not such a pain in the ass when I worked at Adams. My then boss had no reason to be upset with me. But the fact that I love teaching English, as well as the fact that I am much more competent in English than Spanish meant nothing. I was gonna teach Spanish, because it was convenient for her, and that was it. Decisions like those don't factor into the equation, as far as the NY Post. So what if teachers are assigned where they are not their best? Administration is not to be questioned, and anything wrong in the building is the sole province of the teachers, who suck and must be called out for it.

Naturally the Post enlists the opinions of pro-charter folks. Their opinions are of paramount importance because they, unlike us, know how kids should be treated. Clearly children should pee their pants doing test prep and not be subject to namby pamby liberal gobbledygook like bathroom passes.

“Shuffling ineffective teachers from one school to another isn’t a sign that the administration is willing to prioritize students above the bureaucracy,” said Jeremiah Kittredge of Families for Excellent Schools, a charter backer.

Isn't it cool that you can say stuff like that with no evidence whatsoever? In fact there is an agreed-upon standard for declaring a teacher ineffective. Well, there's one in the public schools. Charters aren't subject to that, opting to do any damn thing they please. They aren't subject to chancellor's regulations about corporal punishment, verbal abuse, or pretty much anything. They can dump students, not replace them, and not include them in their stats either. And despite their claims, lotteries are most certainly not random. A parent has to be proactive enough to apply, and agree to whatever extra demands the charters have.

But hey, FES says we suck, and if that's not enough for Post readers, they round it off with some predictable blather from the same Students First NY mouthpiece who seems to comment on everything.

In fact, public schools take everyone, every kid, every special need, every kid who doesn't know a single word of English, every kid with interrupted formal education. They are then subject to the baseless and abusive comments like those of Mr. Jeremiah Kittredge, likely as not taken as gospel by readers of the NY Post.

I'm fairly confident that John Adams wouldn't want me back either. Maybe I'd be an ineffective Spanish teacher, though I'm appointed to teach ESL. And even if I weren't, I would fight to enforce our Contract. Well, who needs that? Not charter school supporters, who generally can't be bothered with union. Here's what the NY Times says about Moskowitz Academy teachers: 

For teachers, who are not unionized and usually just out of college, 11-hour days are the norm, and each one is under constant monitoring, by principals who make frequent visits, and by databases that record quiz scores.

Why are they usually just out of college? Doesn't that suggest that their predecessors didn't last? Doesn't that mean, by NY Post standards, that their predecessors were failing and inept? And if the new teachers don't last, as history suggests, aren't they failing and inept too? Heavens to Betsy, how can that be, with the high standards FES and all the reformies hold so dear?

We're on a merry-go-round of arbitrary standards and random vilification. If we want people to become teachers and hang around longer than they do at the Moskowitz academies, we're gonna have to start treating them like human beings rather than convicted felons.  By their standard, I'm as failing and inept as any teacher labeled by the Post, and so are we all. 
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