Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Subject Near and Dear to My Heart

Patronage and nepotism in hiring teachers in the public school system is one of the biggest problems in education, but nobody in the "reform" movement will ever address it because it's okay with them. They don't believe school districts or any other part of the public sector should operate on a civil service system to begin with because THEY are corrupt.

I would add not just test scores for licensure would weigh into hiring (and may not be allowed because ETS and Pearson would argue the tests aren't designed to be used in that fashion), but also experience; in fact, experience should trump it in the hiring process for teachers. Kids need experienced, qualified teachers, and they aren't always getting them. Of course the trend now is to hire on the cheap (read TFA), not on qualifications. Age discrimination is also rampant in the field in order to save costs on pensions and health insurance, so trends are to get rid of experienced teachers or not hire older teachers to begin with.

It is a fact almost all school districts operate on the spoils system of patronage and nepotism. I don't know why it never was changed legally to bar such hiring practices. The most any state or local government would do is perhaps bar relatives of school board members from working in districts, but that would be the only extent of it. However, you have entire families who are employed by school districts who are not related to board members or to the superintendent, and this is absolutely not right or fair.

I knew way too many teachers at Washoe County School District who got their jobs because they were related to somebody already in the system or somebody else was pulling strings to get them jobs. They never had to work at getting a job, and they have this arrogance they will never be terminated. I will never forget the fall before I received my master's degree in elementary education in a post-bach program for people who had undergrad degrees in other fields. I was in this class made up of those who were in the post-bach program as well as current teachers who were going for their masters, and the prof asked each person in that class his or her background in teaching. I was the ONLY person in that class of 20 or more students who was not able to secure a job that year in public or private schools. Everybody else had a job. I was in tears by the time I was asked. I KNEW most of the other people in that class had never worked for their jobs; they had a wife, a sister, a parent, or whoever else who was already in the Washoe system. I knew one person in the class who told me she was the only person she knew who didn't have "connections" to get a job in the school district. I believe she had a temporary contract that year and don't know if she ever secured a regular job.

After I got my master's degree in 2000, I worked for an area private school for two years before I worked at WCSD in two half-time jobs that nobody wanted and was temporary. I then worked as a sub for about a year and a half before getting a special education job after the beginning of the school year which nobody wanted and switched places with my sub job with the teacher who had "burned out" on teaching life skills for 12 years. The principal who hired me retired at the end of the year, and the next year that damned womanizing sociopath took over. It was downhill for me from there. I went to another school at the beginning of the 2007-2008 year, and things really spiraled out of control because of the idiots in charge of the school and in the central office decided to scapegoat me out of a career on the flimiest of charges.

My last principal was no doubt a patronage/nepotism hire, for how could she have managed to keep her job despite her blatant laziness, neglect, and incompetence when dealing with my situation, which didn't even merit an oral reprimand, if there weren't "political" connections of some sort? She is still there despite being a lazy idiot, and, after a spell of being off Facebook, is back on there, with her "friending" most of the other teachers who were at the school when she was principal (almost all of those teachers either quit, retired, or moved to other jobs in the district). Many of those teachers served her purpose of being "useful idiots" while she gallivanted around to this conference or that conference or stayed holed up in her office while the school went to shit morale-wise. I do note, however, her favorite useful idiot, one of two she picked to back her up during my termination hearing the district's shyster attorney pressured to commit perjury but was kicked out of the hearing when the association's lawyers objected to her testimony less than five minutes into it, is not a Facebook "friend." That's because she had nothing but contempt for that principal all the while doing her dirty work for her.

Anyway, this principal is now on her fourth "job" in the district in five calendar years despite her having been reprimanded or something as a result of that fraudulent hearing designed to protect her and the then-chief human resources officer at my expense. She keeps being protected instead of fired like she should have been and would have been if this had been private sector work.

Such is the spoils system of public education personnel practices.

Snip from linked article:

Teachers and other district employees should also promote positive, non-discriminatory, merit-based employment practices. Teachers and other employees who did not have to work hard to get their jobs often times do not feel the need to work hard to defend their jobs. In these troubling economic times job security is a great concern for many people. Teachers are constantly plagued by the worry that the state or federal government may reduce financial aid to their respective districts requiring the district to make staffing cuts. It is not uncommon to have members of teachers’ unions rally in state capitols to try to secure funding for the upcoming school year. It is also not uncommon for members of teachers’ unions to canvas the neighborhoods of their employment district encouraging taxpayers to approve the upcoming budget. Unfortunately it is also not uncommon to find only veteran teachers with many years on the job and little to worry about in terms of job security out defending the newer teachers who do not bother to show up. Many newer teachers that secured jobs through nepotism feel no need to defend their jobs when the time comes to do so. This occurs because they had no trouble getting their teaching job; therefore, less value is placed on that job and the need to protect it. People tend to place greater value on things they work hard to obtain and that is not the case for those who secure jobs through nepotism. Teachers who receive jobs through nepotism are weak union members unwilling to fight for their jobs and afraid to anger the relatives that provided them with the jobs in the first place. Nepotistic hiring practices hurt teachers’ unions.

Less qualified teachers in the classrooms and a weakened teachers’ union not willing to work hard to protect job security can have a detrimental effect on the district as a whole. If a teacher does not have experience in the subject matter being taught and is not willing to better him or herself, then student performance will likely suffer. The lack of experience and motivation on the part of the new teachers will lead to poor classroom instruction and may cause mandatory exam scores to drop. When exam scores drop, schools loose state and federal funding. When state and federal funding is lost it becomes the burden of the taxpayers of that district to compensate for the loss in funding. In order to compensate for loss of funding school taxes are increased. Increased school taxes, coupled with reports about poorly performing schools will lead to property value losses district-wide. As school districts try to correct the problem it can also become very costly to remove ineffective teachers that have tenure, which is why the selection process is suppose to be thorough and merit-based. If too many relatives are working in a district together there is also increased likelihood that the problems will persist for a long time without notice due to internal cover-ups. The process of correcting the problems resulting from nepotistic hiring practices can be very costly and time consuming.

"Reformers" have no intention of changing this because they want to destroy teaching as a profession and to destroy the public sector, period.

If you are so inclined to look at WCSD, you can look at Transparent Nevada for a list of current employees. You can check by last name, too, and you will find lots and lots of people there with the same last names who are not Johnson or Smith or some other very common surname. That wouldn't even count married daughters of current employees who changed their names upon marriage, either.

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