Thursday, January 9, 2014

We Must Support Rather Than Bash the Teaching Profession

Congratulations to the Louisiana Federation of Teachers for their victory yesterday in once again having Act 1 of 2012 declared unconstitutional. Judge Caldwell made the right decision in ruling again against this poorly conceived and executed law.

When we couple this legal victory with the decision last year on the teacher tenure case pursued by the Louisiana Association of Educators and decided in Judge Jones' court, we find some hope for the teaching profession as a respected profession. In that case, Judge Jones ruled that the state had no right to strip teachers of all due process by stacking the tenure hearing panel in favor of the administration. These two decisions have restored some of the dignity of the teaching profession that Jindal sought to destroy.

In my opinion this law was Jindal's attempt to reduce the status of teaching to nothing more than that of a teenage grocery store clerk. It was an abominable attack on the entire teaching profession. The only thing the different parts of the law had in common to tie them together was a general contempt for everyone in the teaching profession from the first year teacher to the 30 year Parish Superintendent with a Phd. Jindal still believes that if he crushes all the professionalism out of every segment of the teaching profession and makes every job in education totally dependent on student test scores that our student test scores will rise.

Jindal and his supporters have totally missed the true causes of the problems in public education. Instead of stigmatizing teachers and schools where students are struggling, we should have given them support. Teachers who commit to working with at risk students should not have to constantly worry about their job security. We can only improve student performance when we respect and support our teachers.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was going to put this on the Advocate as a comment, but then my name would be attached...and our parish gave us a warning that what we put in public could be reflected back on us through a disgruntled parent printing it and using it against us. So, I decided to post in the anonymous section here....only to find it actually goes with today's post! :)

If they thought there was a teacher shortage before they started making education an even more undesirable field for a career...do they really believe the teacher shortage will get better? Don't get me wrong, I think people with college degrees who need a job will kick the tires for a year or two...but I don't see as many ex-students asking my opinion about whether they should go to school to for a teaching career. And those that do, I tell them...get your degree in something you can make some real money in...when you get out of college, be a teacher for a few years (maybe get some loan relief in an inner city school)...and put in apps for your college degree focus when/if you decide teaching isn't for you. I used to tell them to go for it...it is a wonderful profession...I couldn't think of anything I'd rather do. What has changed? The amount of paperwork for differentiated instruction, test score analyses, report card grade analyses, pre/post testing, writing/finding tests (re-tests), discipline (now there is greater focus from US level after yesterday), home communication, CREATING a Common Core "curriculum", grading, IEPs, taking responsibility for and then taming the zero monster when kids just don't turn things in, and multiple subject lesson planning (with more notations than an encyclopedia) has grown over the past two years or so to such mountains that I have no clue how a "newbie" teacher can survive.

RalphPierre said...

I am finding it more and more difficult to support our Teachers. I am well aware that they are caught "between a rock and a hard place" with the advent of Common Core and the drive by the government to sell education to out of state privateers. But just grinding on without objection is leading them to failure. Failure as Teachers, Failure as an Institution, and Failure to our Children.

I would have much more respect for Teachers if they would all band together and refuse to participate. Silence is Collusion.

Teachers, do your duty and Stop this madness. The power is in YOUR hands.

If Common Core Lives, Freedom Dies.

Anonymous said...

Ralph Pierre...before you cast judgement on the weakness of teachers...you should know my personal finances took about an $11k hit last year for fighting against the political machine that is in power with a threat of losing my job for simply speaking my mind about current reforms...and it isn't worth another $11k. Therefore, my posts will remain anonymous from here on out... I think teachers have quietly decided that the personal benefits of this profession without the support of the general public simply aren't worth the fight anymore. I'm not saying that the future of public education and the kids aren't worth the fight...I'm saying the job ain't worth the fight. You are talking about a profession that had a 50%+ attrition rate (for 1-5 year teachers) BEFORE the current reforms with student discipline and paperwork being the two main complaints. Now, the paperwork has grown to insurmountable proportions and student discipline that many districts were using is under fire for being too harsh. I think most teachers have determined that the job itself isn't worth the fight. Those with too many years in the profession will simply tolerate whatever is needed to get to retirement and everyone else will look for an out ASAP. The teachers that are leaving the profession are actually recruiting current teachers with the promise that the pay may, or may not, work out to be as much as we are used to getting in the private sector...but the headaches are much less and the life enjoyment is MUCH more! The risk isn't worth the reward for a job that the future attrition rates will be 75%+ because the paperwork and discipline issues are getting worse...you are talking to people that have invested their lives into a career and are being told at every resistance we put up, "if you don't like it you can pack your crap up and go find a better school (system)". For you information, they all suck...so it isn't like we will find a better work environment! I do not intend to start back at square one with less than 10 years to go until retirement by playing the Lone Ranger. The government has neutered the unions with laws forbidding collective bargaining (it makes me laugh when "they" spout obstructionist unions exist in LA)...lets just say it is easy to be courageous when you have nothing to lose. Would I stand with the pack? Yes. Would I stand alone? Not anymore.

Kimberly Kunst Domangue said...

Can't afford to be willy-nilly. Many of the people who blog (sorry, Mr. Deshotels) are retired and so not have to fear retaliation. Many teachers are so overworked they cannot lift their heads from the day-to-day tasks to inform themselves of what is truly at stake. The greatest offensive move would be from parents finally saying "Enough!" Yes, LA Educator, please keep informing us... We DO share. But our hands are somewhat tied I'm afraid.

Bridget said...

You are correct Kimberly, until parents stand up and say they will not put up with is, it will continue. It's the law of the land and teachers will continue to follow the law. We need to remember that we elected the people who put these things in place. Our power comes in contacting our legislators who voted to put these mandates into place. We need to hold THEM accountable for allowing this madness in the first place.

Anonymous said...

No one listens to the teachers! They just get rid of us and if you think tenure is any sort of job protection think again!
I have been told over and over to stop asking questions in staff meetings, not to send blogs to people and stop making negative comments about Common Core, PBIS and standardized tests! I have been called into the principals office more times then I can count and have been visited by our secondary supervisor and told I can be replaced.
Teachers can't speak up, we risk everything for what? So many teachers are apathetic about the professional aspects of this career.
We need the parents of the students who are hard working and cooperative to call and complain about disruptive kids we are told we can't do anything about because their parents won't do anything. We need parents to understand that teachers are expected to keep on time with a curriculum that has way too much to teach. We need parents to come and talk with us and learn the truth about teaching and then spread that word in the community.

Anonymous said...

I must say that teachers have been rendered relatively powerless in this overtly anti-union climate. If we speak out, we are seriously reprimanded (with the threat of being fired for not following state law)...if we do the best we can with the laws and regulations being passed, we are thought of as weak for not putting up a fight (although the load is more than most teachers can manage, our fight is doused by simply trying to keep up)...if we speak out in public forums, we are accused of fighting for the status-quo...if our unions go to court and win, we are accused being unionist thugs...if we don't belong to a union, we have no voice...and the only time we have to speak to our representatives is our holiday breaks...which narrow us down to speaking to them over summer breaks because we have so much personal business to manage when we finally have some time to ourselves. And no one stops to ask us what we think we could do, or follow our suggestions if they do, to meet the new demands in a way that is manageable. Is it any wonder that teachers are simply saying, "take this job and shove it!?"

Unknown said...

I certainly do not disagree with the many teachers who feel that they have been striped of all rights including the right to speak out against unwise and unfair policies.

Even so, I have spoken to many local superintendents and many principals who know how to manage in a professional manner who are also appaled and who really support teachers. They have encouraged and helped me to recruit teachers for my email list designed to communicate more effectively with our legislators. I believe that the legislature has the power to correct some of these mistakes and i believe that we have the power to influence them to make those corrections.

Unknown said...

The Comment above was by Michael Deshotels. My Google account did not identify me correctly.

Anonymous said...

Michael,
The key to your comment above is "Even so, I have spoken to many local superintendents and many principals who know how to manage in a professional manner who are also appaled and who really support teachers."
I have only had one out of the 6 I have worked for who is even close to "professional". However, they all have been coaches! As far as knowing what is going on politically with teachers? Nope! They all want us to be one big family, be perky, treat the students as individuals and get to know them so they have someone to trust and always remember that we may be the one good thing in a child's day....but they don't do the same for us.

Anonymous said...

To the last comment above...AGREED!! We have been told to embrace Common Core publically so we don't appear to look resistant to change and incite unwanted phone calls/comments at board meetings. When we begin to question the validity of Compass vs. VAM with principals, we are told to keep the VAM up while getting all the check marks on Compass (although we get high VAM with low COMPASS scores). When we question the Compass score/paperwork/differentiated instruction demands, my principal went into an all out tirade (with a room full of Teachers of the Year AND Highly Effective VAMs) on how we could "pack our stuff up and go"...there was a box of resumes of people dying to get into our highly regarded parish. In the next meeting, he reminded us to stay professional with our students...at the end of the day, I felt pity for him for his outburst because the stress to jump through all of these hoops and get teachers on board affects him in a different way than it affects us. However, what is being said to the public is not what is happening behind closed doors. I CAN say that teachers are supporting each other in ways I haven't experienced in 20 years of teaching...except when I worked in an inner city school where it felt like a war zone everyday. I can't imagine the stress they are going through today with the struggles of the kids' environment AND the reform stress to boot! However, when one of us decides to retire or go to a job outside of education...the send off party is like someone has been called to heaven while still being alive. THAT...is a problem!!!