Controversial conversation starter.

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Registered: 08-07-2007
Controversial conversation starter.
13
Fri, 10-07-2011 - 12:33pm

Its a topic near and dear to my heart because not only do I have a good education under my belt (3 college degrees), but I am also a HS teacher. Some of you may be teachers, some may have children in the education system, and all of you will sooner or later :smileywink:, so this is a topic any one of you can discuss.

What do you think about education legislation out there like NCLB?

What about the current move to take the learning disabled ("ESE" or exceptional student ed) and push them out of sheltered classrooms with a specialized teacher and mainstream them with the higher academic learners?

What about teachers as a profession?

What do you think about classrooms having students who can't speak the language but are expected to learn academic content?

What about students who due to transiency and "social promotion" end up in HS who are illiterate and read at a 1st grade level?

Chouli, 34; DH 45 Lilypie Pregnancy tickers

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Registered: 08-07-2007
Tue, 10-11-2011 - 4:31am
Well, that's sucky, because I'll bet your average Joe even here in FL thinks we're like that here. My mother actually went on a rant about NY tenure a few years ago because it was in the news.
Chouli, 34; DH 45 Lilypie Pregnancy tickers
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Registered: 06-27-2006
Mon, 10-10-2011 - 11:10pm
NY is the same way - apart from a criminal act, a tenured teacher won't be removed based on teaching quality/ability. Even in the case of lay-offs. They are laying off FANTASTIC teachers who are not yet tenured, because they don't have the "years of service", but are keeping on the tenured teachers who should be removed. I know of several FANTASTIC teachers who have been laid off in the past couple years in our area, simply because there isn't money in the budget for them and they are not tenured. It's a great source of outrage. One of my good friends works in the schools and while she's not a tenured teacher (she's in charge of the computer labs/technology for her district's upper grades), she is outraged at the incompetent teachers who are kept on and she has seen countless lay-offs of some innovative, motivated teachers. I suppose that's why I have such strong feelings regarding tenure. Perhaps tenure in NYS is different from tenure in other states?
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Mon, 10-10-2011 - 8:50pm
In PA it took an act of GOD to get a tenured teacher fired when I was there. No joke... we had a totally incompetent chem teacher in HS...he would apologize to the trash can, write out a problem and then erase because he wrote it incorrectly, the students would correct him on his grading because HE was getting the answers wrong. No matter how many parents complained nothing ever happened. He was tenured. It didn't matter that he couldn't teach without giving incorrect information on a daily basis, he was tenured. Gah! Basically, short of sexual misconduct the teachers were IN once they got tenure.

I don't know what it's like in NY state... I don't have any kids and hadn't thought to ask. Hmmm....

 


 


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Mon, 10-10-2011 - 6:45pm
Based on what Courtney said, I'm begining to wonder if there are major differences between counties and states when it comes to teacher employment. It has always been my understanding (teaching 5 yrs now) that it is the observations and annual review of student data, lesson plans and professional development that determines if the teacher keeps his/her job. Tenure isn't like for professors. The way it was described to me it just means there has to be some warning and remediation attempts, some more scrutiny, before termination can happen. But that's here in FL. Now I'm wondering if its not like that all over.
Chouli, 34; DH 45 Lilypie Pregnancy tickers
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Mon, 10-10-2011 - 6:35pm
One more thing - I think it's great that your lesson plans are submitted for review/revision. There are many districts out there that do not do that. Perhaps that is where things to awry in the educational system too? I never had to submit lesson plans and we were only observed usually once a year around "review time".
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Mon, 10-10-2011 - 6:33pm
I'm all for the review process, but I think that the review process should review the performance of the teacher individually, based not just on student performance, but on character building, creativity in the classroom, principal observations, etc...not based on standardized test scores, not on how many years the teacher has been in the school system.

I don't have a problem with unions, so long as they protect your wages and fair treatment of teaching faculty/staff. But, tenure, I think is a different thing. If someone who has been teaching for 20 years, has been a stellar teacher, but had an off year for whatever reason, perhaps put that teacher on a "probation" for a year with increased classroom observations, and perhaps have a mentoring program to help that teacher regain their creativity and positive influences in the classroom. If there is a teacher who, after a year of probation (whether they have been a teacher for 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, 30 or more years) does not show an improvement, that teacher should be removed and replaced with a teacher who will be more effective with the students. Then again, perhaps I might think differently if I were still teaching in a public school and in a tenured position. Who knows?
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Mon, 10-10-2011 - 3:26pm
I understand that part of it Chouli, what I meant is that THAT is what should determine whether a teacher stays or goes. The fact that they've held their jobs for 10 years shouldn't be the deciding factor.

 


 


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Mon, 10-10-2011 - 3:32am
"Teachers should have to go through a review process just like everyone else who works for a living. "

We actually do. And I think this is something the rest of the public doesn't know. Our lesson plans are submitted weekly for review/revision.We are observed many (2 formal, 10+ informal) times a year by administrators. The admin comes in and fills out a form every time with very specific grading and at the end of the year we have a face-to-face to discuss areas for improvement.
Chouli, 34; DH 45 Lilypie Pregnancy tickers
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Sun, 10-09-2011 - 10:35pm
I'm going to weigh in on this one. No Child is a monstrous failure. I'm not going to rehash what you said because I agree whole-heartedly.

On the subject of tenure. I have to say that I AM against it. Teachers are not the only ones who put in more than their 8 hours per day and don't get paid any more for it. I would LOVE to see the look on a private sector manager's face if someone turned to them and said, "Well, I've been here for __ years so you can't fire me unless....". Life doesn't work that way in the private sector. In "at will" employment states you can be let go for any reason or no reason at all and you have ZERO recourse unless someone has violated your civil rights. Even in "right to work" states you don't have any more control, even though people tend to think they do. Teachers should have to go through a review process just like everyone else who works for a living. IMO.

As far as kids being socially promoted... that makes me crazy. It is sheer laziness from both the parents and the teachers/schools that allow it to happen. There is NO REASON for kids to get to high school and be unable to read at that point. And I have to say that I was frustrated as all get out in school because they always taught to the slowest kid in the class. Ok. The rest of us got this in 5 minutes and the teacher has now beaten her head against the wall for another 30 minutes trying to get through to you. It is dumbing down America.... people are afraid to flunk kids, afraid that they will score badly on the tests that the schools depend on now for funding. So instead they spend more time with the lowest 10% while the rest of the class develops severe frustration. It makes zero sense. There is no logic to it. People are afraid to "label" kids in any way that could be taken in a negative connotation.. "remedial" classes are a thing of the past. Well, guess what, if you can't understand then you need to be in a class that helps you understand without holding everyone else back.

My sister is a special education teacher. She teaches severely autistic high school kids (non-verbal, violent, ill, self-injurious, etc). I love her dearly, I am proud of the work she does but in no way, shape or form should her classroom be considered school. IMO it is therapy. Each "child"- and that word is in quotes because some of them are 20+ years of age- has their own personal plan. They learn to not injure themselves or others. They learn to ask to go to the restroom instead of pulling down their pants wherever they happen to be standing. They learn to eat when others eat. They learn to not puke on demand to get attention. Get the idea? Her class is almost 100% behavior modification. This is private therapy on the taxpayer's dime. Each child has their own aide, and there are also some permanent TSS's as well, who intervene when one starts to go off the deep end. My sister has had concussions, a broken nose, scratches, bruises, hanks of her hair pulled out, and her glasses broken. THIS is not teaching. THIS shouldn't be in a school. These kids CANNOT be integrated into mainstream classes, and due to PA law they must be provided an "education" until they either graduate or mature out of the system. I don't think it's right. Her classroom could easily pay for a learning lab, a new curriculum, as well as ART CLASSES AND MUSIC CLASSES for her school district in and of itself. It makes me sick to my stomach that soooo much money is being invested in kids who will never contribute to society, never hold down jobs, and probably will end up in institutions and group homes because they cannot live on their own. Sure, the taxpayers would still end up paying, but it wouldn't be taken out of the school budgets. And I totally feel like a traitor for saying it because I love my sister dearly, and I AM proud of her and the work she does. It just doesn't belong in the schools.

My experience with ESL was as a kid who came from back-woods PA to very urban TX and couldn't understand why "those other kids" couldn't be in our class. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to try to learn in a different language, but if you are here and you are in that grade then you need to do the same work. I'm all for reasonable accomodation, but I don't think that they should have separate curriculum. I also think that the best way to learn a language is to be immersed in it, and if you are segregated from the bulk of your peers then that is actually a disservice.

Ok, I'm zipping my opinions up for the night. Didn't think my reply would get this long!

 


 


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Sun, 10-09-2011 - 4:08am
I agree w/ Tee that NCLB may have started with good intentions, but it has completely screwed public education. It is almost mountainous how much more work it places on public education with NO measurable benefit. I learned in grad school if an intervention doesn't have a mathmatically significant positive impact, then it has failed and some other intervention should be attempted. There is absolutely no data that shows what the government is doing has increased the intelligence of or quality of life for children.

I'm glad to hear an ESE teacher's take on maintstreaming, because I can say as a regular ed teacher, it is not something I can fully endorse. Out of 140 kids, 26 of mine are ESE. They really do exist on a spectrum where on one end there is a low-A-high-B performer consistently and one is an absolute mouth-breather who spaces out, laughs when I redirect her, complains about every part of my lesson plan and everyday doesn't understand that "doing her work" isn't he same as "answering them correctly". And for those 26 kids who I can seamlessly teach with my regular ed kids, I am also working an extra 5 hrs a week on documentation, meetings, accommodations. And of those kids, maybe half are passing, the rest have Fs because no matter that I give them "Extra time" to complete assignments...they clearly can't pass a regular ed test. And what their "Learning strategies" classes are failing to teach them is that although the school system will hold their hand and let them take 8 yrs to get out of HS, the workplace and/or college is not going to accommodate them.

I think teachers, like cops, are doing an amazing, priceless, and necessary public service. And like cops, the public doesn't trust that kind of power or authority. Public perception of teachers tends toward the negative - we shouldn't have tenure, we shouldn't have unions, teachers feel untouchable, teachers are lazy, teachers are liberal, teachers don't work as hard as other professions. I've heard all those and I marvel that a group of people who I know from experiece are working harder in 7.5hrs a day and get no OT for the other 3 or 4 hrs a day they work are so hated. Even with the union (of which I am actually not a member) every year new legislation and individual school policies come into place that put more onus on teachers. We aren't protected at all. And I thank every god in the pantheon that I got tenure before FL enacted that pay-for-performance bill. Can you imagine being held financially accountable for the flawed instrument test scores for 140 kids you just met 8 months prior. This year I got a kid who is illiterate in HS and without my tenure protecting me, I as his science teacher would take a hit that his FCAT scores are going to be low because every other teacher before socially promoted him and his parents obviously have no control.

I was an ESOL student when we came to America from Sweden. My students are stunned and argue with me that ESOL is only for Spanish speakers and my heart breaks at the arrogance. I have taught Non-English-Speakers before, and like ESE, it takes more work on the front end. The student him/herself must work harder than other students and those hard working students are few and far between. That is not an insult or judgement call, that's from experience. The preponderance of 15 yr olds are not happy to spend more time on their studies. After puberty the focus shifts to entertainment, food, and romance. And can you imagine teaching a student about prokaryotes and eukaryotes when they don't understand the fundamentals of the language?
Chouli, 34; DH 45 Lilypie Pregnancy tickers

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