The Friday Rant: Plastic teachers

I just read the weirdest thing on Roadrunner: In Buffalo, teachers get free plastic surgery. So do other public workers, like cops and firemen. The union contracts have allowed this for about 40 years. No deductibles. It costs the school district something like 5.9 million dollars a year.

The school district has a 42 million dollar deficit.

I don’t know, guys. I love teachers, but this stinks.

In New York, the teachers’ union has come to an agreement with the city in which teachers will start being evaluated in 2014. The evaluation will be based 60% on teacher performance and 40% on students’ performance. In my school district, I would think this would be something the teachers would like, because I’m sure these evaluations would tell the district that they have an amazing group of teachers. We’ve had some great teachers over the years.

But we’ve also had a couple, a very few, stinkers, teachers who were bored in the classroom, mean to the kids, inconsistent, unstable, unable to control the class, unable to understand that “learning disability” does not mean “lazy little sh**,” had half the kids drop the class. And the district is stuck if the teacher has tenure. They can’t get rid of them. When you complain about a tenured teacher, no one wants to talk to you.

What bothers me about the New York contract is that it wipes the slate clean for the teachers. Any complaints, issues, problems from the past will be forgotten. All the previous documentation is disregarded, maybe even years of problems. What happens in the next two years determines whether they stay or go.

Somehow we’ve lost sight of what’s important in the schools: What’s best for the kids? If a teacher has good health care, they don’t miss school as often and they do a better job for the kids. All for it. But plastic surgery? How does that help the kids?

I hate to ever say anything negative about teachers, because my kids’ teachers have largely been my partners in helping my kids succeed in school, and I think most of them become teachers because they are called to it. They do it because they love kids and they are passionate about education, not for the money.

But keeping bad teachers on the job just makes the good teachers look bad too. If you were a good teacher, why would you want a bad teacher to get the same money, the same treatment that you get? Shouldn’t you get a bonus, extra recognition, more job security for being a great teacher, not an ineffective teacher who lost the fire in the belly for this job years ago and is just treading water until retirement?

And why doesn’t anyone ever ask the parents how they think their kids’ teachers did this year? Who better to give you an evaluation than the people who worked with the teacher all year long?

Everyone talks about the kids and the teachers, but no one ever talks about the parents in this triad unless it’s to say, “We don’t get enough parental involvement, and the kids suffer.”

Maybe we’d be more involved if anyone ever listened to us. Just a thought.

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About alisaacarter

I am a writer of young adult novels, wife, mom of three, lover of animals, former magazine editor, reader of anything paranormal, and coffee fanatic.
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2 Responses to The Friday Rant: Plastic teachers

  1. alisaacarter says:

    Ms. Miller — As a mom of an LD kid, I worry sometimes about the focus put on the entire whole school getting the best grades. Some kids just can’t. They work their butts off, but they score lower. If a teacher is succeeding with most of the kids, how can you blame the teacher for one or two who don’t? And is it necessary if the kid is doing his or her best? The focus on grades isn’t always the right focus.

    I so agree about principal’s reviews! Who wouldn’t be on their best behavior if they knew they were being watched? That’s why I wish school districts would ask the parents. I do believe the parents know the good teachers, and if the majority say a teacher is great but one says not, or even if the principal doesn’t agree, listen to the majority of the parents. Most of us adore our kids’ teachers and would do everything to support the good ones. And maybe the bad ones would shape up or move on. I’d love to know how good teachers feel about bad teachers. It would drive me crazy!

    You sound like a great, dedicated teacher. I’d bet you’re one of the ones for whom it’s a calling. And luckily for our kids, I think you’re in the majority.

  2. myfriendmissmiller says:

    I am a teacher, and you make some very valid points. And yes, for someone like me who works CONSTANTLY on doing great things for my students, I go above and beyond after class and doing extra activities after the day until wee hours in the night… YES, there are days where I feel so frustrated that my hard work isn’t paid off more than the lazy guy across the hall who is about 70 years old and hates his job and the kids.

    The problem that we run into, however, is that teaching is just so DIFFICULT to measure. How exactly do you measure “success” in a classroom? Well for me, it most certainly isn’t test scores, because I teach ESL. My kids are brand new to the country and learning English on top of core subjects. If we had laws that offered them tests in their languages, sure they might pass. But as a whole school? Our test scores SUCK. So that’s out of the question, or else we’ll be out of jobs.

    Can you measure teacher success by the Principal’s reviews? Sure, maybe. But then you have to take account the following things: how many times was the teacher observed? I have seen the WORST teachers pull craziness together for one “awesome” lesson… but ONLY when an Administrator is there. Does the Principal have a bias for or against the teacher? I mean, my Principal sure loves a few people in our building that have pretty bad attitudes about the kids…

    I could go on and on, but you get the point. As a hard-working, child-loving, dedicated teacher like myself, I feel it is practically impossible to specifically DEFINE what a good teacher is. It is unfortunate, but it will always be a lose-lose situation for us :/

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