“Bad teachers need to go!” I hear that a lot and I agree. Most teachers agree too. At my school there are a couple of teachers that have lost…their zest for the profession. I think they need to find other employment and it would improve morale of the remaining teachers and staff members. (A friend just saw “Waiting for Superman” and said it was good. I’d like to see it soon too and form my own opinion.)
But when we discuss “bad” teachers, we need to make sure that we don’t denigrate the teaching profession. It’s a tough job and I know that most teachers are working incredibly hard for their students. I know that the union of which I am part releases press statements that make me cringe. I don’t like their strong tone; it turns me off. On the other hand, I do want good teachers to get the respect they deserve for the work they do on behalf of children every day. There must be a happy medium where the union can stop sounding bellicose and the district can say more positive things about teachers and valuing their work.
What’s wrong with our educational system aside from a few bad teachers? How about class size? Research on class size indicates that lower is better, but how low? For the early years of K through 2nd grade it needs to be 20 students or less for solid gains in achievement. At my school there are numbers are +/- 30 students in each classroom for those grades. That’s just not good enough if we want to make sure all students are learning.
Returning to my school in particular, I haven’t seen management take any step towards trying to make the “bad” teachers do anything extra to improve their technique. But I have seen management fire a different teacher with tenure in the past. Any guesses why? If you said “politics,” you would be right! (For reference, here’s my elementary description of tenure as how I understand it).
All I know is that when I think about school lunch reform it goes together with revamping education. It’s about re-imagining the school environment completely. I would like to see schools run under less of a business model and more like a medical model (which I touched on briefly before). Quick, accurate, individualized assessments first and then a substantial time spent “treating.” As it currently stands teachers spend too much time testing and lose precious instructional time with kids who don’t have enrichment opportunities at home.
If our country is really serious about educational reform, we need to get rid of bad teachers (which means tackling the union and getting them on board), reduce class size, improve school lunch, and provide recess. Where do we start first?