Friday, August 24, 2012

Teachers, Unions, and Students

From the letters to the editor, at the Los Angeles Times, "Re 'A good teacher is hard to keep,' Opinion, Aug. 19":
Bhatt scapegoats teachers. She cites a report that says it takes 11 hires by a district to yield one truly great teacher, and no doubt is confident that she is one of those rare ones.

The problem is that students aren't responsible for anything anymore. And a system that doesn't make students responsible allows low-performing students to slow everyone down. The students who are failing are, for whatever reason, just not dialed in. Show me a student who reads outside of school and I'll show you a successful student. Show me a student that does his or her homework, and I'll show you a successful student.

It's time to stop blaming teachers and realize that we have a societal problem that is aggravated by a lack of rewards or consequences for students. Too many of our students learn the importance of their education years after high school.

Stan Brown
I'll disagree only so much as, yeah, there are some shitty teachers --- and the unions themselves are hopelessly warped by social justice ideology --- but it's true that students are disastrously unprepared for the rigors of academic life. I'm always pleased when I get some really motivated students, but sadly, that's generally a small minority of the students who come through the doors at my college. They may think otherwise, having been pumped up by touchy-feely pedagogy for their entire K-12 careers, but it's a culture shock when they're confronted with the university-level curriculum that I present in my classes. Sad, kinda. And it's a struggle for dedicated faculty to get the support of the administration for a rigorous program. All a student has to do these days is cry about some civil rights violation or another, and poof! They'll be pushed right through as the administrative talking heads browbeat the faculty into compliance.

Anyway, here's the original essay, from Sujata Bhatt, "A good teacher is hard to keep." It's no wonder why teacher retention is so bad, and it's not likely to get a whole lot better anytime soon.