Thursday, March 11, 2010

CHILDREN - March 11, 2010

The public press thinks they have discovered what to do about the fact that some of our teachers are not up to snuff in the opinions of their students and/or the students’ parents. One school in Rhode Island has fired all its teachers, including the principal. I don’t know where they imagine they are going to get better ones. Some of our teachers are just wonderful, making easy contact with the students and possessed of remarkable stores of valuable knowledge. Others are no better than the poorer ones of those just jettisoned. In the eyes of the school boards, they are at least cheaper than those, if they are new graduates. And maybe we are just looking at what motivates those boards. Certainly there is not a fund of superior teachers floating around without jobs and waiting to be hired by boards that do not know the importance of sticking to their promises, waiting to fire teachers by the platoons and battalions. Just 40-50 years ago, a teaching position looked very good, just waiting for a talented college graduate to come along. Unfortunately this does not look an attractive position for young people, what with a public that imagines they can improve their schools by firing people until they get what they want. Where some college students considered the life of a teacher rewarding, there are fewer who will take on challenging studies and brave getting poor grades to be turned loose in a profession where every parent and every administrator sees firing of below-average ones until everyone in the school is above average, Lake Woebegone style. And so, that profession seems less attractive as a lifetime choice for students who themselves are above average, as measured by college entrance scores. And those who have themselves had teachers who could penetrate arcane studies for them like long division, are trying instead to march off to Wall Street. Try and tempt those into a classroom. Our schools are dying. Firing teachers will not save them.

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