Monday, July 21, 2014

You Can't Have What Doesn't Exist

Of course, I am referring to the myth of "tenure" in K-12.

It’s usually the good teachers or older teachers or experienced teachers who are run out of the profession. Once run out, it is almost impossible for a teacher to resume a career. Districts around the country have all kinds of ways to ensure a teacher can’t resume a career, be it through “do not rehire” status, or through poor references by principals, or through the weeding out questions on job applications. A “yes” answer to those disclosure questions, by the way, guarantees you don’t make the cut for an interview, even for a so-called “high needs” area. It is assumed by districts that if you are a “good” teacher, you wouldn’t be let go, but that ignores the absolutely filthy office politics in the school workplace or the unchecked power of principals, who unlike teachers have virtual ironclad job security.

A good comment is here. Teachers never want to believe "it" can't happen to them:

Continuing contracts protect teachers from dictator principals. I had 29 years of very good principals. I was very, very blessed. My beloved principal was replaced this past school year by one of the worst principals I’ve ever seen in my life. He is unfriendly, rude, uncaring, extremely arrogant, doesn’t even know students by name, and seems to target the older teachers in the new teacher evaluation system. The environment of my school, once happy, is now toxic with teachers turning against one another and following the follies of this ineffective principal without question. Teachers who were always friendly to you turn their heads and do not speak because they know you are an older teacher and have heard through the grapevine that you are being targeted for no reason. They quickly pass you in the hall because they do not want to be seen talking with you. They do not want to be targeted next for no reason. I can’t believe it is the same school building that I so happily taught in for so many years. A great working environment can turn into a terrible working environment overnight. It is all very sad, but it is happening in more public schools today than we know. The only friend of a teacher in this sad situation is the teachers’ union.

Many younger teachers believe that they do not need the teachers’ union because they are excellent teachers. This is so false! I am 51 years old, have hours beyond a master’s degree, have consistently HIGH test scores for my school district, and spend HOURS of overtime hours at my school building. I also dote on my students, have provided medical care for my students, and am highly requested by parents for their children. None of this matters. When you get a dictator principal they treat you badly, mark you down for not using silly group teaching techniques on “Race to the Bottom” teacher evaluation, BECAUSE THEY CAN. THEY ARE ON A POWER TRIP.

Honestly, without teachers’ unions and continuing contracts, the career educator status of our profession will die. For 29 years I never had to worry about unfair bosses, but at the end of my career I clearly saw how unfairly a teacher can get treated. There are far too many personalities for a teacher to deal with on a daily basis to not have due process when something goes wrong. Without teachers’ unions teachers will get their dismissal papers at the end of their 11th or 12th year of teaching, if they can get that far. Also, our teaching profession is designed that once we lose our jobs in one school district, it is very unlikely that we will ever teach again. Unlike most professions, we can’t relocate to another state and go looking for a new job in our trade.

Without positive changes in our states, I am very afraid that we will not recognize the public schools in 10-15 years. As they get rid of the older teachers like me who had the right of due process, they will try very hard to not even give continuing contracts to teachers based on the unfair new teacher evaluation process. I have already seen good teachers reaching for the continuing contract status to be denied and walked out the door. They become a bad teacher overnight. The evil politicians have already darkened the reputation of our professions, and many young people are turning away from the profession all together. They cannot invest $100,000 in student loans to make $33,000 per year and then have the threat of being fired every 3 years without any job security at all. Who in their right minds could take this risk?

The "weeding out" application questions guarantee a teacher can't resume a career; same is true with "do not rehire" status.

Both should be illegal because they are forms of blackballing.

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