Some Questions

sensitive noise / obvious 2I work in a private school and don’t have any plans to change that—certainly not anytime soon. I feel like I am on the sidelines in this great education debate. I see the comments on Twitter and read the blogs. But I have some questions.

If teachers’ unions are horrible organizations who protect bad teachers from being fired, why don’t all the students without teachers’ unions, including my own, outperform states with unions? One would think that if the unions are the problem, then states without them would have the best teachers in place, and therefore would have the highest test scores.

Why are we doing this to kids?

Why does everyone think charter schools are the answer? One where I interviewed some years ago wanted to pay me about $7,000 a year less than I was making at the time. Surely they’re not going to attract the best teachers if they will not pay the teachers a wage commensurate with what they could make elsewhere… right?

If testing kids is the answer for teacher accountability, why is it that my school’s students have managed to be as successful in college and work as students with this testing background when we only administer the PSAT and AP tests? (We encourage SAT and/or ACT.) I mean, shouldn’t it follow that my colleagues and I aren’t really being held accountable enough and that our students might somehow be slipping through the cracks?

What am I missing?

Creative Commons License photo credit: milos milosevic

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10 thoughts on “Some Questions

  1. At the risk of being politically incorrect, studies have shown that Jewish day school students perform better in school for a variety of reasons: education is highly prized in Jewish culture, higher economic status (by virtue of attending a private school), Jewish culture is more family-oriented, reading the Haggadah during the Seder and learning a difficult language like Hebrew have all been cited as reasons for academic achievement. So, I think your questions are valid; however, your school might not the best candidate for comparison.

    (I'm Jewish, by the way, but I didn't go to a day school! I performed average in school, at best.)

  2. Dana, I think you and Nancy make some excellent points. The demographics of your school might skew college achievement and test scores toward the high end.

    You've mentioned previously that you have a relatively small class size in comparison to some colleagues in public schools. Class size may be a factor.

    In general, I don't think that teachers' unions are horrible organizations that protect bad teachers. In many cases, they serve to protect good teachers from unfair or arbitrary practices.

    Good questions.

    • I know Jose. That was my attempt to adopt the rhetoric of the Rhee/Gates crowd and question their assertions that unions are the problem by pointing out the same problems they lay at the feet of unions exist in states without unions, too. Sarcasm is hard online.

  3. My state has a union, but teachers are not required to join. I am not anti-union in general, but I choose not to join my union because of their track record. They seem to think that the school system exists to employ teachers regardless of performance. That said, I would be afraid to work in a system where there was no union to bargain and protect the teachers' rights. I realize the problems with that stance. Then I read about the situation in NYC, where the union seems to be crippling the entire system, and I think that is unacceptable. It's a complicated issue.

    As for tests, don't get me started. I guess you read about the teacher who killed himself over that mess.

    • Kristy, I did read about that teacher, and it's a senseless tragedy.

      I have to be honest. I have been treated unfairly and lost a job that I think I could have kept had I been tenured and worked in a union state. However, given that losing that job led me to my current job, I can't resent it now. It worked out for the good. I work in a very supportive environment right now. I can imagine it would be impossible to fight, say, a book challenge without administrative support and no union, though.

  4. Hoe did you transition from public to private? I'm in GA too, and I can't keep hurting kids with the awful reforms that keep coming down the pipe. I want to try my hand at private. Where did you start looking? Should I stay in the same county or does it matter?

    • Hi Jordan. I checked out your link. You aren't too far away from me. My daughter goes to Roswell High. We might have been co-workers! I was interested in Centennial some time ago. If your statement that you "can't keep hurting the kids with the awful reforms that keep coming down the pipe" isn't an indictment of the current state of affairs, I don't know what one is. The transition was easy. I actually found my job from the AJC, but you would do better to keep your eyes on the GISA website. Then go to the GISA Job Fair when they have it. It doesn't matter at all what county you choose unless it matters to you because of Atlanta traffic and you want a light commute. We have a ton of private schools in Atlanta. I honestly didn't know where to start when I lucked into my current job. Now that I've been in the school for a few years, I have learned that GISA is the best way to go. Best of luck to you, and feel free to keep us posted about your search.

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