Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Teaching Profession: Out With the Old, In With the New

The Sunday Times book review section review "Shock of Gray" a book about the aging world population, posing the issue of older people vs. younger people for jobs in addition to the fact that as birth rates drop there are fewer workers to support the elderly. What is of interest to us is when the author, Ted C. Fishman, refers to "age arbitrage" where companies trade in their older employees for a younger, cheaper work force elsewhere - outsourcing - attributing this to globalization.

This got me to thinking about what we've seen here in NYC within the teaching ranks and the growing assaults on senior, higher paid teachers. First we saw Joel Klein claim early in his tenure that seniority was harming poor kids because the most experienced teachers could transfer out to better neighborhoods while at the same time attacking senior teachers by claiming the very same seniority transfers were foisting incompetent teachers on principals. He also attacked the "bumping" rules where senior teachers had the right to bump junior teachers within the same license area. The 2005v contract killed these seniority rules and created a pool of ATRs, the use of these senior teachers as short term of long term subs.

Then Klein implemented what he called fair school funding, where for the first time a school was charged for the costs of the teaching staff. Thus, a school with a lot of teachers with over 22 years making a hundred thousand a year (by the way, giving big raises at the top was part of the long-term plan- call it an investment - to create such a gap in salary between new and senior teachers as to start the pressure cooker boiling) could afford less teachers, thus giving principals an incentive to go after the higher salaried teachers.

The next level of attack is coming from the likes of the Bill Gates foundation and Arne Duncan who want to totally revamp salary structure to be based on the scores of each individual teacher using value-added. Part of this attack is to degrade teacher experience. As Susan Ohanian wrote which we quoted Gates' spokesperson Vickie Bernstein in our post ( Calls to action for teachers -) the other day:
Lest you doubt the triage metaphor, consider Vicki Phillips' recent remarks to the National PTA. Phillips is the Education Director for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
So we know master's degrees have almost no value.
We know certifications don't make a difference.
We know that after three years, seniority doesn’t really matter . . . After year three, teachers usually don't get significantly better or worse. 
So you see where this is going. Degrade the profession, use more TFA temps, etc. By increasing non-unionized charters - pay the salaries to make them competitive with the public schools but demand 30% more work, no pensions and possibly lousier health plans - they ultimately will be able to drive down every one's salary so one day we are back to the 50's, with a basic non-unionized work force making peanuts and with lousy working conditions.

The next step will be to demand that when layoffs come, seniority be thrown out - this will be a focus for Cathie Black. Part of their game plan it so appeal to the newer, younger teachers who will demand they be kept on while older higher salaried teachers are let go. Watch the value-added scores be released just in time - can't you see a list in the NY Post of every teacher making a high salary and their value-added score compared to lower salaried teachers in their school? That's coming folks, to a school near you.

Should see this picture for teachers within the context of Fishman's book, as part of a worldwide trend? Or is this a unique case?

For those of you who thought of Joel Klein as incompetent - with his multiple reorganizations and all the other hazarai, I disagree. His job was not to improve education or even about education. It was about ideology and to do what I described above. In the latter he was brilliant - a master, especially with a cooperative UFT - non incompetent either by the way, as solidfying and holding on to power is the prime directive and they have done that as well as Klein has done his work.

No comments:

Post a Comment