Hack for America

What if there were a way to replace old, non-excellent teachers with fresh new ones—and best of all, make sure that the new teachers remain freshly excellent? Great news reader! The problem that has long stifled our public schools, causing our students to lag and languish, has at last been solved. The solution comes to us via an opinion writer at the Boston Globe who *gets* that if you let teachers hang around for too long their excellence depletes and they get stale.  Continue reading →

Michelle Rhee’s Hero Problem

Does heroism hold value in Michelle Rhee’s measure of a teacher’s worth?

In the annals of tin-eared condolence statements, the one released by Michelle Rhee in the wake of the Newtown school shooting stands out. Her very word choices felt stilted and wrong, evoking a strange world in which children are “assets,” stunned and reeling teachers are “colleagues,” and family are the members of Rhee’s own “team.” But if the statement began on an off note, worse was still to come. The lesson of the hours-old tragedy, Rhee seemed to conclude, was that she’d been right along. “Improve schools for children,” (read, eliminate tenure and other workplace protections for teachers) and thereby “improve entire communities” (read, prevent senseless slaughter). As for her parting, there was nothing left for Rhee to do but double down, announcing that she and the entire StudentsFirst organization—”including the members of our team in Connecticut“—were recommitting to their mission today. Not two days from now, when the first of the unending series of memorials would begin, not a week from now when the funerals would at last be over, but today.
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Don’t Back Down

Recent weeks have been tough on our good friends at Education Reform, Inc. So EduShyster offers some valuable advice: don’t back down. Take off the leashes and the muzzles and let us know how you REALLY feel.

So you’ve had a tough couple of weeks. First there was the whole Chicago strike thing— which Jonah and Bruce assured us would NOT happen. And what was with all of the parents saying that they supported those lazy LIFO lifer teachers??? Don’t the parents get that YOU’RE the ones who care about the kids? I mean your ads and websites are filled with cute pictures of minority kids excelling and traversing the achievement gap. Does that not count for anything???? Continue reading →

Every Child Deserves a Teacher of the Year*

*Even if that teacher has no experience or credentials

Like you, I need to start each day by consuming a steaming nugget of wisdom from edu-genius Michelle Rhee. That’s how I know that most, if not all, of our nation’s BEST teachers are brand new to the classroom and are free from the burden of unnecessary credentials. So how unfair is it that most states won’t even allow these top teachers to be considered in their annual Teacher of the Year contests? That’s right: at this very moment a state bureaucrat is passing over a newly minted edu-starlet in favor of some LIFO lifer whose only accomplishment (other than being nominated as a top teacher by his or her peers) is hanging on.

We need a campaign to fix this injustice ASAP, and I know just who should lead it.

To: jwilliams@stand.org
From: Your biggest edu-fan

Dear Jason: Every child deserves a Teacher of the Year, wouldn’t you agree? And yet too many of our children are denied the opportunity of being taught by a Teacher of the Year because states like Massachusetts and California refuse to recognize that the BEST teachers often lack experience and credentials. Won’t you take the lead and fix this egregious injustice once and for all?

Your own personal story–your ‘race to the top,’ as I’ve come to think of it–will be essential as we try to roll back these stifling Teacher of the Year regulations. Imagine how inspiring it will be for others in your brand new shoes to hear the story of how you overcame California’s onerous and burdensome requirements that Teacher of the Year nominees have 1) at least 7 years in the classroom and 2) a teaching license. I mean, my God, when will the ceaseless punishment of excellence finally cease?

Naturally we will need to consider legislation to fix this, perhaps using a threatened ballot initiative for leverage. I’ll leave the details up to you and Jonah…

Yours
Horace

Hat tip to Boston teacher @columwhyte for alerting me to the fact that Williams, a TFA alum, retired from teaching at age 23, unlicensed after a year and 10 months in the classroom.