Writing in Common Dreams, Diane Ravitch looks at the state of teaching as a profession. She notes that some of the leading “education reformers” constantly attack teachers as the problem without proposing a real solution. In Finland teachers are given five years training before they reach the classroom. In the U.S., half of new teachers leave the profession in their first five years. That’s a problem, and the reformers only answer seems to be “bust the union.”
March 20, 2012
September 11, 2011
School starts next week, and a logical assumption would be that most jobs for teachers are filled. Once upon a time that would have been true. Now teachers (at least in Chicago) will be hired and laid off based on the number of students attending school in the first weeks. Teachers who might be laid off or looking for work should prepare a good resume.
For a public school teacher in grades K-12 every resume needs to list qualifications (education, certification, and relevant endorsements). It should also describe what classes you have taught and how you have participated in any activities that have improved the school. For example, some teachers work in before/after school tutoring programs. Others coach or run music/art programs.
As school districts have focused more on tests, teacher also need to be able to show success stories. Improving test scores is a good way to catch a Principal’s attention. Similarly, any teacher who has had success in fund raising or grant writing needs to tell those stories.
Any teacher who loses a job at the beginning of the year has a tough task ahead. That job will be made easier by writing a resume that tells potential employers why they need you on their faculty. Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn. Take credit for how you have helped your students.
August 28, 2011
Writing in Daily Kos, Laura Clawson examines the claim that charter schools give parents more choice. We have to ask if school reformers are really changing things for the better – or just cutting revenue for public schools. Why would they want to do that? To break the “evil” teachers unions, of course.
Some charter schools are very good, but the overall concept is a Trojan horse that will reduce another middle class profession with longer hours, no protection, and less pay. We also have to ask where the money that isn’t paid to teachers and principals is going. The Chicago Reader investigated local charter schools. Most refused to give information about their budgets or payrolls, information which Chicago public schools are required to make public. Ruining teaching as a profession, hiding how taxpayer money is spent – that doesn’t sound like reform.
July 29, 2011
When I started writing resumes in 2001, teachers had a much easier time getting hired. Now with budget cuts and more programs to certify teachers, it is much harder to find a job in teaching, which means teacher resumes need to sell more.
The first step in writing a teacher’s resume is to layout qualifications: certifications, endorsements, and types of classes taught. It is equally important to show other ways one has contributed to a school’s success: tutoring in before/after school programs, coaching, and in-service training. School “reform” has led to an emphasis on test scores. If a teacher has raised test scores, she should take credit for that achievements. Similarly, given funding concerns, if she has obtained grants or participated in fundraising, those elements should also be highlighted on a resume.
Use this question when editing a teacher’s resume: Would a principal want to see this? Would she want someone with this skill or achievement on her faculty? Answer these questions, and you will have the base for a winning resume.
May 4, 2011
Writing in Common Dreams, Robert Jensen, a Professor at the University of Texas,Austin, ponders his job and how it appears to be changing. Jensen recently attended an event at which representatives of the libertarian Cato Institute presented a free market model of higher education, measuring success in terms of a product.
A fine thinker and writer, Jensen tears these ideas apart. However, I could not help but think about how teachers and students in the K-12 grades are being treated. Their professional success is based on “metrics” (standardized testing). Charter schools are presented as “free market” alternatives to public schools, which are labeled as failing even when they outperform charter schools. Teachers who belong to unions are represented as self-centered takers rather than dedicated professionals who sacrifice for their students, even to the point of buying classroom materials.
Is learning simply a product? Is the student a product? Anyone who answers those questions in the affirmative should hold their own children or grandchildren to a similar standard and enroll them in the kind of schools they advocate.
Teachers develop more than knowledge. They build character and inspire the curiosity that drives life-long learning. Their role is much closer to a parent than a shop foreman. Let’s treat them with the respect they deserve. They don’t create products. They teach people who do great things — if they are given a fair chance.
February 20, 2011
The protest in Wisconsin has brought a focus back on a topic I’ve written about several times over the last year: the value of teachers. From Kindergarten through graduate school I went to both public and private schools. Most of my teachers were good. They taught during the day. They graded papers and planned lessons on nights and weekends. It’s not an easy job.
So let’s think for a minute about what opponents of teacher unions want: lower pay, fewer benefits, and no union protection. As I say above, teaching is a tough job. Take the good stuff away and who will want to do it? Yes, good teachers don’t just work for the money. But, at some point, even the most dedicated teachers will say that it’s not worth the sacrifice.
The same people who complain about the quality of American educator are doing everything they can to drive good teachers from the classroom. The same people who say we need to compete with China are driving out our country’s most important resource: Educators.
Shame on Governor Scott Walker and his Tea Party supporters. The have an odd way of showing their love for America. Three cheers for the young students who are marching in Madison. They remember what the old and selfish have forgotten. They know how to say, “Thank you.”
December 30, 2010
Today’s Chicago Sun-Times features a story about a 75 year old teacher in New York city who is paid $97,000 a year not to teach. The story is twisted. The teacher was charged with molesting a student, but the charge was dropped. School disciplinary proceedings were dropped due to a technicality. For the last 13 years, this teacher has been paid to stay out of the class. It’s outrageous.
Then again, so is this story. It’s an outlier, an unusual circumstance that fits a conservative meme: unions protect bad teachers. Instead, we should ask why the school system hasn’t found some other way to deal with this issue. We hear again and again from alleged education reform groups that teacher unions are the problem, and a story like this is great grist for their cause. However shameful, this story says more about the people running the schools in New York than it does about thousands of good teachers who are helping students learn. Beware of the outlier stories. They are usually told by outright liars.
September 24, 2010
This week’s Chicago Reader provides more stories of the methods that principals are using to lay off teachers in Chicago Public Schools. The article reviews the pretzel-like terminology used to justify layoffs. My favorite is “honorably terminated,” which sounds like some kind of mercy killing from a 70’s film like Rollerball.
Writers Ben Joravsky and Dave Glowacz interview several teachers who were among the 1,300 let go before this school year began. We constantly hear the cliche of “bad” teachers. The teachers profiled in this article have proven records of success. The problem seems to be that they cost too much when a school can hire cheaper, younger teachers.
This article focuses more on individuals than issues of unions and contracts. Even so, it reminds us that few teachers in CPS can feel secure in this environment. Will good teachers want to continue to work in such a system? How does a culture of fear impact teaching? These questions aren’t asked. Instead, the mainstream media feeds us stories about “bad” teachers. Thankfully, writers like Joravsky and Glowacz are around to tell the truth.
September 19, 2010
Roger Bybee, writing in In These Times magazine, explores the root causes holding back students in many public school systems. Conservatives, their media allies, and – at times – President Obama and Arne Duncan blame poor teachers. Bybee looks at poor students and their families and considers the social and economic factors that affect learning, which all start with poverty, not bad teachers. This article is a fine antidote to much of what is accepted as conventional wisdom about public education.
Are there bad teachers? Yes. Are their back school administratiors, business excutives, and political leaders? Yes. Let’s look at people who have more power to influence change.
May 21, 2010
An editorial in today’s Sun-Times calls on Congress to save schools just as it saved banks. However, the editorial’s deeper concern is watering down an important protection of teachers’ rights as unionized workers: seniority.
The editorial waffles on its position regarding seniority. First it says, “In exchange for the money, teachers unions should give up seniority rights.” A few sentences later, “Seniority-based layoff rules have value; they prevent more expensive and experiences from taking a disproportionate hit.” Then, in the last sentence of the editorial, the writers call on senators to “make it clear that blanket seniority rules must go, and go soon.”
Let’s back up. The original problem discussed in the editorial was school funding. State and local governments across the country have not – for various reasons – properly funded public schools. The Sun-Times editorial puts 100% of the blame and solution on teachers and their salary. Once again the media, the voice of corporate America, is targeting working people and going after their job security and salary. The editors of the Sun-Times care more about union-busting and cutting salary than they do about children.
Over the last few years, I’ve seen my clients who work in Chicago Public Schools face more layoffs. This year once stable suburban schools started laying off big numbers. In the short term, schools might balance their budgets through layoffs and salary cuts. In the long run, who will want to be a teacher? Everyone says children are the future, and we need to invest in education – but no one wants to pay more taxes to support schools. Instead, teachers should make less money. Teacher unions need to be weaker. That’s not a solution. It’s a joke.