Monday, August 29, 2011

So, About All Those Bad Teachers

The general - though misguided - consensus is that public education is a failure. And the general cause of this failure is assigned as "bad teachers." That seems to be the mantra of every education reformer from Michelle Rhee to Bill Gates. And, of course unions and tenure get a pretty good shot.

In response, teachers will often acknowledge the presence of bad teachers and the weaknesses of due process for "bad teachers" but assert that there are far more complex issues at stake - particularly the lack of accountability for students, parents, and administrators. Few people outside the field have ever experienced the challenge of trying to promote learning to resistant adolescents. And even fewer have knowledge of just how many bad teachers are out there or why they might be "bad teachers." It's worth noting, for example, that education does have a self-selecting system of attrition. In that, I mean 60% of new teachers leave the profession in the first three years. Thus, they quit - as opposed to sticking it out and keeping that "easy job for life."

And, then, every once in a while the curtain is pulled back for just a moment, and one honest soul provides some insight into the schools where all the bad teachers are blocking achievement from these children thirsty for education. Such is the case with the recent expose "Confessions of a Bad Teacher" from John Owens, an editor with a long career in the publishing industry who decided to step into the classroom to "make a difference."

He got quite the education.


mrelliott said...

Your entry has summed up a book I recently wrote entitled "Orphaned: The Abandonment of America's Public School Teachers." I very much feel the media (i.e. John Stossel) has painted America's children as these eager, thirsting for knowledge, sponges that are being let down over and over again by our nation's selfish and lazy teachers. When in reality, its the other way around. Kids go out of their way not to learn, parents heap all the blame on the teacher, and administrators support whomever happens to be standing in front of them at the time.

Don't know if the book will ever be published. Apparently I have to be someone famous, or infamous, before the publishing world will even venture a thought in my direction.

mmazenko said...

Exactly. Good luck with the book. As I was reading this article and posting, I was thinking these revelations need to come in book form.

If you publish, let me know. And if you ever want to promote it by putting some excerpts out, I'd be interested in posting for you.

Megan said...

Thanks for posting this. I read the whole article, and it really reminds me of my experiences and things I have heard.

Anonymous said...

So, what's the answer? I'm not sure that even without Ms. P that John would have been pleased with his experience. Seems to me that Ms. P was just an additional unnecessary frustration and degradation.

The problem isn't teachers or students, it's the schools.

Darren said...

I'm not sure what epiphany you got from this story. You got one side of a story, and that side appears to be a bad principal. Gasp! Who'd have thought there might be bad principals out there?

Anonymous said...

Maria Elena Rico is a tyrant and needs to be fired from Bancroft Middle School in Los Angeles, California. This principal's is mean and vindictive. She walks through the campus and doesn't speak to her staff. She bullies her teachers, parents and students. To top it off she has already threatened to cancel 8th grade graduation because she doesn't want to deal with it! She's also had activities like after school carnivals for the school, but didn't have secure late buses for the magnet or special Ed students thereby excluding half the school population from attending. She allows for her son's girlfriend, who is a classroom assistant, to work in the main office as a clerk and tried to have another assistant transferred when the school didn't have money to pay for an extra assistant, even though that assistant had more seniority than her son's girlfriend. She's also rigged elections in favor of her son's girlfriend.

The moral at Bancroft is extremely low. This woman has no vision for the school. She has exhibited racist undertones and has gone out of her way to discriminate against ethnic groups other than her own.

The practices need to stop! We are an inclusionary society and we should care about the welfare, and continuity of our student population. LAUSD show not continue to recycle horrible principals be moving them from school to school where they are allowed to wreck havoc on every campus they are put in charge of. This woman was at Bernstein HS and she alienated every teacher on that campus. Now she's continuing to do the same at Bancroft. Teachers are retiring early, and new teachers are putting in transfers. One would think that she would be trying to keep the new teachers especially since they bring new energy and perspectives to their jobs. However, her motto is, "If they want to go, then let them go!" If she were a more positive leader, she would ask them to stay and outline to them her vision on how the moral of the school would be heightened.

Maria Elena Rico, the principal at Bancroft Middle School in Los Angeles, California must GO! She needs to be fired from the district or at least demoted back to the classroom. She has no business running any campus in the country!

Ochoa said...

We have that problem here in Seattle. Her name is Norma Zavala. Are they related?