I'll start by saying I love educators. No, really, my wife is one. So too are many relatives and friends. But having a teaching degree and standing in front of students for pay does not an educator make. (Ms. Groves from Fordson HS English would be sooooo proud of how I put that sentence together!) Not sure why it has taken so long for our governmental leaders to address teacher tenure laws that date back to 1909. Just think of how much our world has changed in the 100 years since this was first enacted to protect teachers from being fired because of race, sex or political views.
We are the greatest nation on earth with regards to free speech, freedom of religion, pursuit of health, wealth and happiness, and so on. But we are NOT the greatest nation on earth when it comes to educating our children — we lag way down the list. That should piss off a lot of people. But typical apathy has had this issue on the back burner for years, and it is FINALLY coming to the fore.
There are so many great teachers who are tenured, but it is the ineffective, apathetic teachers that must be singled out and sent packing. Think back to your school days and you can think of a teacher or two that picked the wrong profession. And if you're a parent, as I am, you know of teachers in your kids' schools right now that should not be there. But they are because they're protected — protected by webs of unions at local, state and federal levels that shield mediocrity with so-called due process — it is more hassle to fire or reprimand a teacher than it is to simply shuffle them around and keep them in front of our students.
Keep the good, experienced teachers — parents, students and administrators know who they are. And make room for the Gen X and Gen Y teachers that have some amazing ideas on how to connect with young people. In this age of peer networking and with the proliferation of technology, the classroom must be updated in our approach to teaching and connecting with students. It was great to hear President Obama mention it again in his State of the Union address last week — the concept of rewarding effective teachers. And it is great to hear that many of the new crop of GOP governors (Florida, New Jersey, Michigan and others) are preparing to dismantle this old, outdated rule that so many hide behind.
We can be among the greatest nations when it comes to the education of our youth, we just have to chip away at this problem first. Empower the administrators and unleash the new, creative thinking in education. (And NO, that is not me in the picture above, but thanks for asking.)