“The problem with religion - as with Nazism, Stalinism, or any other totalitarian mythology - is the problem of dogma itself. I know of no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too desirous of evidence in support of their core beliefs.”—Harris
Fearing that certain words and topics can make students feel unpleasant, officials are requesting 50 or so words be removed from city-issued tests.
The word “dinosaur” made the hit list because dinosaurs suggest evolution which creationists might not like, WCBS 880′s Marla Diamond reported. “Halloween” is targeted because it suggests paganism; a “birthday” might not be happy to all because it isn’t celebrated by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
“Centuries ago, the teacher Socrates famously argued against the idea that the written word could be used to transmit knowledge. This has been disproved over the years, as authors have developed conventions for communicating through the written word and educators have effectively taught students to extract that knowledge and make it their own. To prepare our students for the future, it’s time for another such transition in the way we educate. When we don’t teach students how to manage their online research effectively, we create a self-perpetuating cycle of poor-quality results. To break that cycle, educators can engage students in an ongoing conversation about how to carry out excellent research online. In the long term, students with stronger critical thinking skills will be more effective at school, and in their lives.”—Building Good Search Skills: What Students Need to Know | MindShift (via infoneer-pulse)
When Bill Haslam’s first order of business as governor was to take away the collective bargaining rights of teachers, I thought to myself, “What have teachers done in Tennessee to get stripped of their bargaining rights?” I wondered if Tennessee teachers had gone on strike or had massive “call in sick” days. I searched Google for “Tennessee Teachers on Strike” and could find nothing. In fact, I found that it was illegal for Tennessee teachers to go on strike. So apparently Tennessee teachers have not used their collective bargaining rights to go on strike.
Perhaps the problem is the retirement system that teachers enjoy. I went to the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System and pretended that I was a 35-year teacher who had averaged $50,000/year for the last five years. (I don’t know if many teachers earn that much, but I used that number as a guide.) To my surprise, a teacher who earned $50,000/year and retires with 35 years of experience merely gets a pension of $2,296/month or an annual pension of $27,552. That’s the maximum, assuming that the teacher doesn’t want his/her spouse to have anything in the event of the teacher’s death. You can check this out yourself by going to the TCRS calculation website. It seems that the collective bargaining isn’t helping the teachers all that much with their retirement. So why is Bill Haslam picking on teachers?
It is untrue that a tenured teacher cannot be fired. Tenure only guarantees due process for teachers facing termination. Tennessee isn’t like New York City, where ineffective teachers are in a holding area earning their full salary while playing cards and waiting years for hearings. This doesn’t happen in Tennessee. However, it is true that for a Tennessee teacher to lose his/her job there has to be evidence of ineffectiveness and evidence that assistance was provided to the teacher to no avail.
Nationwide, teachers are consistently leaving the teaching profession. “Every year, U.S. schools hire more than 200,000 new teachers for that first day of class. By the time summer rolls around, at least 22,000 have quit. Even those who make it beyond the trying first year aren’t likely to stay long: about 30 percent of new teachers flee the profession after just three years, and more than 45 percent leave after five.”[Source – NEA] So the notion that it’s hard to get rid of teachers is just not true. On the contrary, it’s hard to keep teachers.
Changing the tenure law is just the beginning of things to come. Changing the tenure law won’t save money. The salaries and retirement plans that teachers earned will be next. I hope I’m wrong.
“The one thing that matters is the effort. It continues, whereas the end to be attained is but an illusion of the climber, as he fares on and on from crest to crest; and once the goal is reached it has no meaning.”—Saint-Exupery
…What else do we need aside from salaries to attract teachers? Well, we need lower class size because teachers want satisfaction in their work. How do they get satisfaction? The real mission of a teacher is not to give idiot multiple-choice tests, but to get kids to think, to express themselves, to be able to advance arguments, to be able to persuade.
You get kids to do these things by getting them to write, to put their thoughts on paper. Then, the teacher has to mark the paper and spend three, four or five minutes with each student. Then she gets them to redo it and redo it. With constant coaching the student eventually begins to think, to express, to write. Without that coaching and practice, the student will never get there.
But teachers can’t do this today. With 30 kids in a class, five periods a day, 150 students, five minutes to mark each paper and five minutes to coach each student adds up to 25 hours per set of papers. There are not many teachers who will do that or, if they do, for very long…
There is no way to solve this problem given the way that schools are currently structured. Furthermore, even if we were to reduce class size from 30 to 15, it would mean that this country would need 4.4 million teachers. We would need to hire half of all the college graduates in the country just to teach school.
This was written 25 years ago.
From a speech by Albert Shanker. Quote starts on Page 7 of the Google Doc, Page 9 of the actual doc (PDF download available).
Although I myself am an academic and a humanist, I actually agree with Rick Santorum on this issue. The controversy should be taught and understood by all educated Americans because it lies at the very heart of the deepest ideological disagreements of our nation. An important point of difference I have with Santorum is that I think the controversy should be taught in social studies and political science classes, rather than biology. This is because the real controversy is in the domain of politics and the ideological direction of the country, not in biological science.
“The man that I named The Giver passed along to the boy knowledge, history, memories, color, pain, laughter, love, and truth. Every time you place a book in the hands of a child, you do the same thing. It is very risky. But each time a child opens a book, he pushes open the gate that separates him from Elsewhere. It gives him choices. It gives him freedom. Those are magnificent, wonderfully unsafe things.”—
“In contrast, the kind of learning that is typically associated with technology is a much more informal, hands-on sort with a more immediate application. Need to learn how to do something on your computer? Look it up on Google or tap into the right social media networks. Need to send an email to several hundred people? Find a service that handles it efficiently and that allows you to do A/B testing on the subject line. In other words, as Collins and Halverson encapsulate it, school fosters “just-in-case learning” while technology fosters “just-in-time learning.”—Technology Can Make Students More Intellectual (via world-shaker)
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan used his SXSWedu keynote address earlier this week to advocate for more professional development and higher salaries for teachers. Duncan argued that teacher salaries should start at about $65,000 a year and range up to $150,000 a year for highly rated veterans.
That sounds good in theory—teachers work incredibly hard, staying at their school sites long after students have left the building, taking student work home, and planning lessons on the weekends. Many work second jobs over the summer and pay for professional development events out-of-pocket—of course they deserve to be compensated at the same level as other highly trained professionals. But considering the draconian budget cuts that have led to thousands of teacher layoffs nationwide, every teacher who hears Duncan’s suggested salaries has to be asking themselves where that money is supposed to come from.
The levels of trust and openness that are necessary for teaching are diminished every time someone opens fire in a classroom. Idle comments become vaguely menacing threats. Classrooms are no longer just about learning but also about observing — watching to see who seems upset, uninvolved, angry.
So whenever you hear Republicans say that they are the party of traditional values, bear in mind that they have actually made a radical break with America’s tradition of valuing education. And they have made this break because they believe that what you don’t know can’t hurt them.
“So much of teaching is sharing. Learning results in sharing, sharing results in change, change is learning. The only other job with so much sharing is parenting. That’s probably why the two are so often confused. You can’t test what sort of teacher someone will be, because testing what someone knows isn’t the same as what someone is able to share. This will be different for every teacher.”—Esme Raji Codell, Educating Esme
The slump in the economy, coupled with the acrimonious discourse over how much weight test results and seniority should be given in determining a teacher’s worth, have conspired to bring morale among the nation’s teachers to its lowest point in more than 20 years, according to a survey of teachers, parents and students released on Wednesday.
More than half of teachers expressed at least some reservation about their jobs, their highest level of dissatisfaction since 1989, the survey found. Also, roughly one in three said they were likely to leave the profession in the next five years, citing concerns over job security, as well as the effects of increased class size and deep cuts to services and programs. Just three years ago, the rate was one in four.