Notorious Phd on Teaching, School Reform and Social Justice in America- Talking Points for a Continuing Debate
Why I Support Teacher Tenure
Every good teacher I know supports teacher tenure because the harm that results from eliminating it would be greater than the harm that results from the small minority of incompetent teachers. Teachers work in the public domain and are beseiged with constituencies trying to influence what they do - often unfairly and unscrupulously, ranging from parents, to unscruplous politicians, to the media, to business interests trying to gain contracts in the schools. Teachers need protection from all of these, as well as the incompetent or authoritarian admistrators who occasionally come along. Far more public school teachers are heroes than incompetents. They are among our best public servants and we need to support them not make the scapegoats for our own failures as parents and citizens
Why Applying Business Models to Education Won't Work
Do you really think that business models would work in the classroom?. Are test results the measure of teacher performance? If I had people measuring my "results" as a professor at Fordham the way people want to rate the performance of public school teachers, I would have quit my job a long time ago. Students are not products. They are people whose imaginations need to be inspired and who need nurturing and support when they are in trouble and sometimes when they aren't. The most important thing great teachers do is build relationships. My colleague, Father Bentley Anderson says that the most important "results and outcomes" of teaching may take twenty years to fully emerge. Rating teachers on student performance on standardized tests will not only make students hate school by turning the entire experience into test prep, it will make every teacher withan ounce of pride leave the profession.
Why Public Schools May Be a Better Example of What's Right in the Nation than What's Wrong
What if this entire discussion is framed improperly. What if our public schools are the symbols of what's right in the nation rather than what's wrong. I can show you a public school in the heart of the South Bronx, surroun...ded by housing projects, shelters, and drug rehabilitation programs, that functions far better than any private business working in that neighborhod, or in any adjoiing community. It's a place where everyone greets you with a smile, where the walls are covered with amazing art work and exhibition of student projects, where community history is honored in an "Old School Museu," and where students, many of them living in desperate poverty, are loved and protected. This is PS 140, with Principal Paul Cannon. Not a charter school. This is America at its best. And does anybody ackowledge the people who work in this institution, and give them respect. No. Maybe private business should study how PS 140 works instead of trying to impose their operational model on PS 140
To me, teachers, firefighters, police officers, sanitation workers, people who pave highways and collect tolls and bridges- these are American heroes They work hard every day and never get rich. Their union protections give them security. Why take that away?
Young People, Unions And School Reform
The attitudes of young people, including my former students, toward unions makes my physically sick. Unions were resonsible for allowing working people including the descendents of Irish, Italian and Jewish immigrants, and Black people moving up from the South and the Caribbean to provide a decent life for themselves and their children in post war America. Will the young people growing up in the Bronx today have that opportunity. Do you think the "school reform movement: Is going to give it to them. When it is the richest people in the country, who stole the inheritance of working America, who are behind this reform. I used the think the school reform movement was led by idealistic but misguided people, Now I think it is the biggest hustle- or the biggest diversionary tactic- in the history of modern America, designed to take attention away from ecoomic inequality and regressive taxation.