Thursday, February 25, 2010

Message of Reform

This is pretty shocking.
I never thought I'd see it happen.
What am I talking about?
Seems a school district in Rhode Island has the right idea.
Now I'm not going to sit here and wax on, wax off about what's wrong with the present educational system.
Okay, maybe I will.
Just a little.
For one thing, I thought the school that I work at was under performing.
It is, but that school in Rhode Island, I mean, I can't even bring myself to call it a school.
I look at it this way: if your business is not doing what it's supposed to, then you should either change how you are doing it or close up shop.
Seems that particular school wasn't doing what it was supposed to, yet the people there thought everything was copacetic.
Oh, don't worry, we'll take some recommendations and change some things, but other than that, we're okay.
Don't worry about us.
Huh? The kids?
What kids?

Chapeau to the Superintendent.
Now we have a new School Superintendent here, but what happened in Rhode Island is never going to happen here.
The thing is, here, there is only one school district.
For like the whole state.
This wouldn't be a bad thing, if all the kids in the state were the same too.
What I mean is, it would be great if all the kids were of the same ethnic background and had the same socio-economic status.
Would be.
Moving on, for historical reasons here, the unions have too much power.
There, I said it. I said it for it's true.
A teacher here must get caught dealing crystal meth before they get fired. Or smoking dope in their car before school.
Not getting through to the kids? Don't worry, you got tenure.
The teachers don't even control the teachers union.
See, the majority of teachers I know and work with, care about the kids.
Yet, Hawaii has the shortest school year in these United States.
If you have been following along at home, then you know that due to budget cuts, the teachers have been taking unpaid furloughs on two Fridays a month.
This year, the kids will lose seventeen instructional days.
Three weeks.
The thing is, the teachers are not able to restore any instructional days even if they wanted to.
The union, and the collective bargaining agreement won't let them.
Now to me, I have a hard time understanding all this.
Okay, not really.
I worked in the private sector so I'm just used to doing things differently.
Like firing everyone if the job is not getting done.
Usually though, they just fire everyone from the top down and start all over.
Hey wait!
That's exactly what happened at that school in Rhode Island!
Seems like the teachers(or maybe just the union) there were haggling over being compensated for working more. I guess they forgot they were professionals who don't punch a time clock.
Professionals with a union.
Guess the union made sure they all got treated equally.
Don't get me wrong, asking for compensation is okay I guess, if you are getting the job done.
If you are getting the job done.
What I wish for, hope for, pray for if you will, is that parents will get so fed up with the current system, that they'll just stop sending their kids to school.
The students should go on strike!
The parents and students should form their own union and demand change.
It would be like "we aint' paying you doodley squat until you teach us something."
Now that's reform!
I wonder what would happen at my school if one day, no students showed up?
Boy, wouldn't that send a message.


John Romeo Alpha said...

Sometimes it seems to me that we allow too much focus on the teachers in the extremely bad situations like this. From the news story it does sound like the teachers think of themselves as hourly employees rather than salaried, which seems bizarre to me, since a salaried position basically says you work until the job is done, because we can't really say how many hours it will take to complete it. But, another statistic I would like to hear about the Rhode Island school is the parent volunteer rate. I'm going out on a limb here to guess that you see the parents show up to bitch about the teachers, but not to volunteer their time to contribute to the daily work of teaching their kids. In fact, I am quite certain that the parents of that school subscribe to the "teacher fills the empty box" theory of childhood education: as long as I get the kid to the building most days, the teacher will do the rest. Box not filled? Teacher's fault. Any books in the house? Nah. Unfettered access to TV and video games? Sure! Unlimited txting on the cell? You betcha! Junk food diet? Well, yeah! No doubt that the superintendent in Rhode Island is right on track. But it's probably not just the teachers.

limom said...

Parents and students also make the short list of my reasons on why schools fail.
The school I work in could be called "inner city," we have a diverse student population and the amount of free or assisted lunch percentages are above state averages.
Sometimes, it is impossible to get in touch with the parents of a troubled student.
The students see no point in school success for it has no direct influence on the outcome of their lives(so they think).
What I believe happens is natural: an attitude that affects both students and faculty that is difficult to change.
The machine grinds along with some performance gains, but overall, the trend remains.
In the Rhode Island case, maybe it is not only the faculty but also the students and parents who need some reform?
Terminating everyone is a wake up call for all.
I'll say this though, as someone who has decided to make education my profession, I'd have to take responsibility.
It's my job.