Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hubris

Educating children is the most important thing a city can do.

Teaching is as life saving as cardiovascular surgery.
The first statement was, and in some places still is, planted in the yards of hundreds of homes and intersections around Nashville when the begging for a sales tax increase (for the children) was being debated (it failed miserably). The later is a paraphrase of Metro Nashville Education Association President Erick Huth in this morning's Tennessean.

Let's make it absolutely clear---teaching is important, very important. Good teachers are a valuable asset to our city and we need to pay great teachers well. However, it is not on par with saving someone's very life. To insist that such is the case is foolish and demeaning to both the life saving professions and the teaching profession.

It doesn't take a teaching degree or union membership to pass on fundamental reading and math skills to the majority of our children. Like it or not it is being done successfully by tens of thousands of parents and private school teachers across our nation, our globe, every day.

If I were a firefighter, a policeman or a surgeon, I'd be offended at the comparison that what I do is on par with teaching. Like it or not different jobs, while honorable and fulfilling, do not have the exact same value and when Huth begins his protectionist apology for not allowing anyone into the teaching club with:
Imagine going to a cardiovascular surgeon who became qualified to perform surgery by attending a six-week 'intensive institute.'
it's an outrageous comparison. Does he actually speak for the majority of his union's members when he makes this comparison?

He goes on further to say that people accredited by what he calls 'quick-fix programs' have a lower retention rate and do not produce comparable results on state assessments. Little wonder they don't stay long---they've been out and about and understand that they have options and are less likely to buy into the very system that Huth spends his days defending.

Further, we'll have to take his word on the quality of the teachers since mere parents and taxpayers aren't privy to teacher value added scores in order to evaluate their effectiveness. In the meantime Becky Kent (executive director of the Teach Tennessee program) reminds us that these new teachers "must still pass the same professional exams required of all teacher candidates. " She also points out that "Principals who hired fellows ranked them higher than the average first-year teacher on a performance survey."

An interesting question: what percentage of these Teach Tennessee fellows join the TEA (Tennessee Education Association) or the MNEA vs. teachers on the usual track?

1 comment:

Eric said...

"Imagine going to a cardiovascular surgeon who became qualified to perform surgery by attending a six-week 'intensive institute."

Imagine if he came from a dropout factory where the school had secluded, self-appointed standards and "grades" and refused to compare themselves with the rest of the nation's medical schools.

Since it is "saving lives" now, at what point can we call the TEA's handiwork a holocaust? How low do graduation and proficiency rates have to be to qualify?