Thursday, August 6, 2009

Do Something Radical

I've just been reading through some of the materials from Race to the Top and/or Innovation Action Team.

My fear is that there are people involved in this so called reform who believe at the root of challenges facing education are teachers who lack intelligence, skill, and motivation and that they are protected in their mediocrity by their too powerful union.

These are the same people who will attempt to steer the conversation toward changing teacher termination law, eradicating tenure (mainly because they mis-interpret it to mean job security), loosening transfer language, rearranging the teaching day, eliminating seniority rights, linking evaluations directly to student performance, linking pay directly to student performance...

On the other hand consider that teachers have long desired to reform their own curriculum, professional development, school calendar, school day, service delivery to students with special needs, student performance monitoring, code of student discipline etc. They have attempted to do this through the collective bargaining process. In most cases, when the people who actually teach try to bargain these items, they are told by an attorney (Why do districts pay outside attorneys to negotiate?)that such issues are not subjects of mandatory bargaining and so will not be considered by the district.

If the reformers want to do a something really radical to shake up American education, they should broaden and strengthen collective bargaining rights. Give the people who actually teach and care for the kids more voice in the process, not less. Also, they could try weakening the power of superintendents and putting more power at the building level, but not just in the hands of the principal. Buildings could be run by democratically elected committees that include the principal, but not as a veto vote. Let's really, really, shake things up by asking kids what's working and not working about their school. Let's ask kids if they are happy going to school, and if they have anything even approaching a curiosity or love of learning.

No comments:

Post a Comment