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June 29, 2010

Quality, not seniority, of teachers should be considered

Alan Borsuk:

I'm going to turn 60 soon and my job title at Marquette Law School these days is "senior fellow," so I have a disposition to respect seniority. Especially when other things are equal, you should earn some standing by dint of long service.

But do you think Trevor Hoffman should be sent out to pitch the ninth inning for the Brewers just because he has seniority over everyone else on the team? Of course not. Put in the best pitcher.

I may be in a minority, but I regard baseball as a game, as entertainment.

Education is not a game. It's as crucial a matter as any facing Milwaukee.

So why don't schools follow this simple lesson from sports: You stand your best chance of winning when you field your best players?

Milwaukee is well on its way this summer to a vivid lesson in seniority in action. Milwaukee Public Schools administrators have given layoff notices to 482 teachers, as well as 816 other employees.

Related: An Email to Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad on Math Teacher Hiring Criteria.

Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman:

"Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk - the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee. Adult practices and attitudes have become embedded in organizational culture governed by strict regulations and union contracts that dictate most of what occurs inside schools today. Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It's as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands." Zimman went on to discuss the Wisconsin DPI's vigorous enforcement of teacher licensing practices and provided some unfortunate math & science teacher examples (including the "impossibility" of meeting the demand for such teachers (about 14 minutes)). He further cited exploding teacher salary, benefit and retiree costs eating instructional dollars ("Similar to GM"; "worry" about the children given this situation).

Posted by Jim Zellmer at June 29, 2010 1:23 AM
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