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Professionalize the teaching profession

Post by Patrick O'Callahan on Jan. 6, 2011 at 5:19 pm with 7 Comments »
January 6, 2011 5:26 pm

The governor’s new combine-the-state-school-agencies plan got us thinking about ed reform again.

Here is a powerful argument for treating teachers as professionals, not union workers. Higher pay, more accountability, like lawyers, engineers, etc. It’s signed by a slew of big-city school chiefs. A couple excerpts:

A 7-year-old girl won’t make it to college someday because her teacher has two decades of experience or a master’s degree – she will make it to college if her teacher is effective and engaging and compels her to reach for success.

By contrast, a poorly performing teacher can hold back hundreds, maybe thousands, of students over the course of a career. Each day that we ignore this reality is precious time lost for children preparing for the challenges of adulthood.

The glacial process for removing an incompetent teacher – and our discomfort as a society with criticizing anyone who chooses this noble and difficult profession – has left our school districts impotent and, worse, has robbed millions of children of a real future. Let’s stop ignoring basic economic principles of supply and demand and focus on how we can establish a performance-driven culture in every American school — a culture that rewards excellence, elevates the status of teachers and is positioned to help as many students as possible beat the odds. …

We need the best teacher for every child, and the best principal for every school. Of course, we must also do a better job of providing meaningful training for teachers who seek to improve, but let’s stop pretending that everyone who goes into the classroom has the ability and temperament to lift our children to excellence.

Leave a comment Comments → 7
  1. TSkidmore says:

    Have any of you ever talked to a teacher? Sat in a class? You don’t know one damn thing about teaching?

    The intellect of the editorial board of the TNT is about 1/4 of an inch deep. Your articles and editorials show you know nothing about the education system…and worse you don’t seem to want to know or care…

  2. This is the first time I have seen an article that is not blaming the parents. What is not said is that we refuse to fail a student that is not capable of performing. REASON: parents will get mad, and we already know the child is behind. I am old enough to remember grades that were A to F, yes it included an E. E’s and F’s were reason to keep a child behind. If we would return to not passing a student we could see a tremendous change in 1-2 years instead of the decades we have watched our schools failing.

  3. Why on earth would “professional” and “union member” be mutually exclusive?

    Why is it that – when you go to a Doctor or a Lawyer – you WANT someone with “experience” but you repeatedly imply that experienced teachers have less to offer?

    Why doesn’t ANYONE ever talk about the fact that teachers in Washington are at-will employees for their first TWO YEARS?

    Why won’t anyone admit – much less, defend – that the current stipend for National Board Certified Teachers is a significant step in this direction? Perhaps because it actually costs money?

    Finally, why should parents, teachers or students give a fig when “a slew of big city school chiefs” throws their employees under the (school) bus in the court of public opinion?

    The TNT needs another hobby besides teacher bashing.

  4. Zillahboy says:



  5. TSkidmore says:

    As someone who has worked with school collective bargaining agreements (on both sides of the table) the problem is not with the union but with management. The contracts very clearly lay out the way a teacher or school employee is to be dealt with (to include discharge). It is a process that all parties need to follow….most of the time the “leaders” will not lead. Managers drop the ball.

    Don’t blame the unions for doing their job when the administrations will not. You people know nothing about schools and how they are run!

  6. rosie12 says:

    I am a teacher for a school district. I love my job and think that I get paid well to do it considering the time off and the benefit package. I don’t think that public education will ever improve for our children until teachers are required to be competent and principals allowed to lead a building and build a motivated team. Right now the joke among teachers is “well- we can never be fired”. There are so many really bad teachers who just stay year after year- why would you leave- they wouldn’t survive in the private sector. The motivated, competent teachers are the ones who get fed up with the system of senority and negativity that they move on. They don’t leave because of the kids. After a while the good teachers who stay resign themselves to do the best for their kids and ignore the rest because the system of complacency will not change as long as there is no competition for students and parents to pick where their children are educated and school districts continue to receive tax dollars regardless of what they do. I have often thought that if the public outside of the district really knew what went on in a school district, they would never vote for another levy.

  7. Rosie12:

    I would love to hear more of your thoughts on this issue. If you’re interested in sharing, please email me:

    — Marsha Michaelis
    Senior Education Analyst
    Evergreen Freedom Foundation

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