Monday, September 27, 2010

Plus ça Change, Plus C'est la Même Chose

Frequent reader(s) of this blog have quaffed the kind nepenthe of mean know that we earn what passes for our salary toiling as acolytes in the Church of Reason. It is in this capacity that we approach the recent comments of President Hopey concerning the state of American education with a great deal of interest, and no small amount of trepidation, as we have been on the receiving end of  Federal assistance to schools before--but the therapy seems to be helping and the nightmares have mostly stopped. Still, in the interests of fair play and open debate we look forward to getting an illegal alien, secret Muslim's view on the educorporate training industry in this country, figuring if he can do for schools what he did for middle class tax relief...uh...we could...oh crap.
President Barack Obama started the school week Monday with a call for a longer school year, and said the worst-performing teachers have "got to go" if they don't improve quickly.
Ah, the classic opening gambit: Teachers got to go! Well, no one would argue that there aren't bad teachers in schools, just as there are bad doctors in hospitals, bad mechanics in garages and bad football players on NFL teams (We're looking at YOU Detroit!). Anyway, our experience has been the reason bad teachers persist is because some principals are too incompetent, cowardly, or unorganized to fire them. Oh, too lazy as well.

It's hard to fire a teacher and it should be because sometimes it's the bad teacher s who become the principals and if they could get rid of teachers who challenge them on a whim we might have even more bad teachers in the school--birds of a feather don't you know. Also, teaching can be a fairly subversive activity because even though everyone will tell you they want schools that produce literate individuals with highly developed critical thinking skills, really they don't. Don't believe us? Ever heard of Texas?
Asked in an interview if he supported a year-round school year, Obama said: "The idea of a longer school year, I think, makes sense." He did not specify how long that school year should be but said U.S. students attend classes, on average, about a month less than children in most other advanced countries.
We call this the theory of Education by Osmosis. Just keep the little brats in their seats longer and they'll get smarter. Unfortunately, when a major portion of the school year is given over to preparing the students to take high stakes tests the end result of a longer school year will probably just be grumpier students, and frustrated teachers . Oh, and by the way, there isn't enough money to keep the schools open as long as they are currently, let alone longer.
In the interview, the president said he wants to work with teachers unions and he embraced the role they play in defending their members. But he said that unions cannot and should not defend a status quo in which one-third of children are dropping out. He challenged them not to be resistant to change.
Yeah. Pesky unions. Everybody knows principals, superintendents, parents and politicians all have teachers' best interests at heart. If these unions would just get out of the way we could have world class schools, like in Texas and Arizona.

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