Friday, July 29, 2011

Tenure Woes

Tenure Granted to 58% of Eligible Teachers in City -

Another interesting article... there's always something cooking about education.

There are a couple of things in this news tidbit that raise my eyebrows.
1) How am I going to get judged for tenure?
2) Do I really care?
3)Did Bloomberg really say that line at the end?

Let's address this step by step so I'm not a jumbled mess
1) I teach art. Does that mean my portfolio counts more? I know a teacher who didn't prepare a portfolio and got tenure... so do I even need to mess with one? What gives? Again, I want to push the higher ups in education and make this clear for all subjects, not just math and ELA. Why do you think this sort of measurement is applicable to all teachers when only two subjects take yearly standardized tests? I'm truly dumbfounded.

2) I personally don't really care about tenure. Is it important for art teachers? Yes. Absolutely. And I'll say why in a second bit.
Here's why: tenure at its best is all about protecting someone from a principal's bias. It is for the career teacher, the teacher that is in a system for 10 years and a new principal comes along and tries to higher someone cheaper. See, the problem with education is that a teacher on day one has many if not all the same responsibilities of the teacher at year 20. There is no sense of advancement or widening of responsibility. It's one of the major problems I see with teaching. Because of that (among other reasons), I know I won't be a career teacher. In fact, I would guess many people in my generation and below won't be career teachers - the idea of a career anything is growing smaller and smaller - it's an idea based on our parent's generation. Now, expect to change careers 4-5 times in your life. We tend to jump more and more, so tenure isn't really something that will help us.

However, I will say it is important for those folks who want to do career, and for art/specialist teachers certainly. Why? Because there are no metrics to evaluate us at this point and value added to our principal's rating when we do a great job, we are a "cheap labor force," meaning unless there's tenure involved then many principals will make the business decision (due to tightening budgets, etc) to hire the cheapest art teacher possible. All the principal needs to do is show they offer the program and then focus back on test prep. It sounds brutal, but that's the standard we've set in our current education practices. So, tenure is important, but the folks that want to be career art educators will I'm sure make tenure because they care.

3) Oh Bloomberg. You Education Mayor you. You sit there and tell us we should be highly effective from day one one and then you're conceding and allowing under performing teachers to continue? What about those kids in their classrooms that you talk about losing out? You send me such mixed signals that if this was a date I wouldn't know whether to kiss you or give you a firm handshake at the end of the night.

I think I'd shake your hand. And then let you pay the bill. Because you make more than I do.

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