Thursday, March 17, 2011

Teachers are Not the Enemy

The Salina Journal buried the story -- it contradicts Tom Bell's rather vapid editorial lauding the Kansas legislature for not having to bother with things like Teachers' Unions.

It was an AP story about why the US students scores place the country 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math. This is testing of 15 y.o.s in an International Assessment of these skills. Thirty four countries are part of the assessment, so the US now ranks in the lower half in math and science skills.

Part of the reason -- other countries attract the best and the brightest to teaching. We don't. We don't because we underpay, under-value, berate, and generally make education less of a priority than football. We devalue our teachers and tell them that they should be glad that we let them have any kind of job, those worthless bureaucratic swine swilling at the public trough.

Not only are teachers in high performing countries highly valued and well paid, science is also highly valued. We may brag about our research facilities, but those facilities will soon be staffed by non-Americans, because Americans don't do science. We do creationism. We do climate denialism. We do all kinds of pseudo-science and despise the people who do actual science. Texas is about to pass a law that so devalues science that it will call the discrimination against non-scientists attempting to claim a scientific mantel a crime.

This is ridiculous. If we want to stop this, we can. But we have to want to and, I'm afraid, we'll have to fight for it. The know-nothings are in charge and are unwilling to let any facts, test scores, or inconvenient truths stand in the way of their charge back to the 19th century.

2 comments:

lindiswede said...

No teachers are not the enemy. Part of the problem is that the stats from many of the other countries is that is compares apples to oranges. We teach everyone, they don't. We have discipline problems they would not put up with. We also have teachers who teach that shouldn't. Tenure can be a problem with people who are in the profession for the wrong reasons. The issues are many and comparisons should not always be drawn between our students their upper level students in particular.

Kalle Lilla said...

I disagree, lindiswede. Universal education in Japan teaches everyone. The test is a standardized test. Finland, like the US, likely has teachers who need to retire. Tenure is not the problem. Yes, tenure makes it difficult to remove teachers, and it is supposed to do that. But Finland, Sweden, Norway, all have strong teachers unions that protect teachers and all have a system of tenure and all do better than we.

We should stop blaming tenure, stop blaming teachers and look at what others are doing - which is holding teaching in high regard and paying teachers so that the best students, the brightest and most motivated, want to be teachers. We do just the opposite, and your comments are indicative of how we've managed to get teachers to bad mouth themselves!