From the “Not Their Best Work” file.
I am a big fan of 60 minutes, but the segment they ran last night about a novel charter school in NYC that pays teachers $125,000 seemed like a bit of a whitewash. I’ve provided a link above. Maybe you should watch it first before reading my comments, it’s up to you.
A few things really jumped out at me:
- Paying teachers $125,000 is a great idea. Having them give up their collective bargaining and any recourse if the one administrator in charge of them decides he doesn’t like you, not so much. Besides, great teaching isn’t about doing it for the money. I’m not really sure if I would trust someone who got into the gig to make a bit more bank (comparative to the top end of LI pay-scales, $125K is not that much more money—though granted, those kick in after many years in the profession) to have the right kind of thoughts about education and why it is a job worth doing. All I ever wanted was to be compensated fairly for my labor, and that is exactly what I get working in public education on Long Island.
- It seems like the extra money, which has already been established as not so much more than common for the NY suburbs, comes with more than a bit of extra work. Staying at work until dark dissecting lessons, and being my own AP are not really things that I want to do. And I work a whole lot each day. But I want to be doing my own thing a bit more than the TEP program seems to allow for. Plus, what is the average class size in TEP? Anyone have that number?
- Joel Klein really seems like an idiot. Apparently, teachers in NYC get tenure for “having a pulse”. That sounds like a really shitty quality control system, and if that is the case, maybe the people who run the city schools should be thrown out on their asses. People like former NYC chancellor of public schools Joel Klein! Klein also gives the charter credit for having the strength to get rid of two first year teachers, acting like that sort of thing just doesn’t happen in public education. Maybe he’s talking about NYC. Here in the suburbs, I can count on more fingers and toes than I have the number of teachers who have been let go from my district after the first, second, and third years. That’s the kind of thing a competent administrative team does before granting someone the right to due process that tenure connotes.
- The principal of the charter seems like everything I would be wary of in a boss. He’s 34, and running a building? How long could he have possibly spent teaching before that (note: can’t find it on the internet, though he did start some sort of standardized test prep company—leadership!)? Personally, I’m going to have a really hard time with any boss who has spent less than 10 years in the classroom. But maybe that’s just me. I like people who tell me what to do to be demonstrably knowledgeable about the things they are telling me what to do about. Also, he refers to tenure as a “job for life”. Ugh. Anyone who has that kind of idea about due process is not my cup of tea.
- While I’m heaping scorn, I should spare a little for Ms. Couric. Admittedly never my favorite reporter, Ms. Couric really does a particularly poor job in this piece. Watching this segment, you wouldn’t know that Klein is currently the head of Newscorp’s educational software division, busy trying to find digital replacements for physical teachers (conflict of interest, much?). Ms. Couric also does a great job of burying the lead by not mentioning that the charter school she is trumpeting is doing worse on testing than the surrounding schools until the last little bit of the piece (which she then moves artfully past by showing us a heartwarming clip of a below-grade-level child learning to read). Kind of a lame job all around by Katie on this one.
Anyway, that’s my take. You are certainly welcome to your own. I’m sure I can be easily painted as a “fan of the status quo”, and an outdated mindset, and all of that.