Tuesday, March 19

Joel Klein vs. New York City teachers

Dear kannu

You belong to a family of teachers. At least on my side. Long family tree of teachers. Both dadu and didu are professors. So am i. I also give huge credit to my teachers for what I've done and become. So reverence for teachers is seriously built into me. An old quote always impresses me. The influence of a teacher stops at eternity and that's true. 

Think of the teachers you had up till now. You will remember 1-2 very good ones. Most are average and then you have some who are dire. The challenge one has is what do you do with these teachers at the bottom end of the scale. Our society, our culture, our economy depends on great teachers. Without them, we are playing with the future of our kids. To keep on having bad teachers on is a crime against our students. I feel strongly about it just like I feel strongly about lifelong learning. And investments in education. We sponsored a scheme called as teach first where we took the best students and then helped them become teachers for some time at least. 

See here for an example of what New York State is facing with bad teachers. I read somewhere that in the past decade or more only 17 teachers in England have been fired for incompetence. And that's spectacularly stupid. Why not measure by results? We measure the students by results no? 

Something to think about. 



Joel Klein vs. New York City teachers : The New Yorker

In a windowless room in a shabby office building at Seventh Avenue and Twenty-eighth Street, in Manhattan, a poster is taped to a wall, whose message could easily be the mission statement for a day-care center: “Children are fragile. Handle with care.” It’s a June morning, and there are fifteen people in the room, four of them fast asleep, their heads lying on a card table. Three are playing a board game. Most of the others stand around chatting. Two are arguing over one of the folding chairs. But there are no children here. The inhabitants are all New York City schoolteachers who have been sent to what is officially called a Temporary Reassignment Center but which everyone calls the Rubber Room.

These fifteen teachers, along with about six hundred others, in six larger Rubber Rooms in the city’s five boroughs, have been accused of misconduct, such as hitting or molesting a student, or, in some cases, of incompetence, in a system that rarely calls anyone incompetent.

The teachers have been in the Rubber Room for an average of about three years, doing the same thing every day—which is pretty much nothing at all. Watched over by two private security guards and two city Department of Education supervisors, they punch a time clock for the same hours that they would have kept at school—typically, eight-fifteen to three-fifteen. Like all teachers, they have the summer off. The city’s contract with their union, the United Federation of Teachers, requires that charges against them be heard by an arbitrator, and until the charges are resolved—the process is often endless—they will continue to draw their salaries and accrue pensions and other benefits.

“You can never appreciate how irrational the system is until you’ve lived with it,” says Joel Klein, the city’s schools chancellor, who was appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg seven years ago.

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