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.