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Education Nation – A Union Leader Reacts

May 15, 2011

This guest post is an excerpt from a longer piece by Christal Watts, president of the Vallejo Education Association.  Like me, Christal was tuned in to the Education Nation Los Angeles Teacher Town Hall webcast earlier today (5/15/11 – archived video available beginning 5/16/11).  Her post was generated at near-lightning speed, and she allowed me to cross-post a portion of it here at InterACT, where I expect we’ll have some other California teachers presenting their views as well.  Many thanks to Christal for allowing InterACT to use part of her work, and you can read the rest of it, along with more of Christal’s writings, at Five Feet of Feisty.

Kim Baldanado

NBC Reporter Kim Baldonado doing an update during webcast of Education Nation.

I reluctantly pointed my browser to today’s Education Nation to watch it online. Last year’s Education Nation appeared to be nothing more than a forum to beat up on public education, teachers and their unions.  This webcast felt much more balanced than the small bit I watched last year.  There were actual educators on the panels who had experience teaching in public schools mixed in with college professors, charter school teachers and others.

It was great to see Teresa Montano correct the misconception about tenure.  As a college professor, she clarified that while she has tenure, school teachers in California do not.  Teachers in California receive permanent status after two years (not the five years that was stated incorrectly by the panel) and the right to due process.  They are not, despite claims to the contrary, guaranteed a job for life.

I would like for someone to explain that if teachers had a job guarantee for life, why we have seen a decimation of our teaching force over the past three years due to budget cuts.  Doesn’t seem so cushy and guaranteed to me.

The one thing in the debate about public education that continues to come up is the myth of the bad teacher. One young teacher brought up two scenarios of supposed bad teachers and how parents complain about these teachers, but they still have a job. The message is clear to those not in know that it is the union that is protecting these teachers.

Word to wise, there is nothing that I hate more as a union leader than to be charged with protecting bad teachers when I know for a fact that it is often the district that is doing nothing (and I mean NOTHING) to even attempt to remove them.  When a teacher is given an unsatisfactory evaluation year after year, given access to work with Peer Assistance and Review program and refuses, the District has pretty good cause to move towards removing this teacher.  This is something that I’ve seen happen in my district – and guess what? That teacher is still in the classroom.

One of the highlights for me is when one panelist, Aisha Blanchard-Young, pointed out the false dichotomy of young, good teacher vs. old bad teacher.  Too often in these debates when one refers to a bad teacher, bad=old.  This is something I really detest because I think it is one of our faults as Americans. We do not place value on age and experience; instead we buy into the Hollywood version that youth is equivalent to everything that is good, including smarts, energy, and innovation.

Read more of Christal Watts’ post here.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. May 16, 2011 7:52 am

    Thanks for hosting this on InterAct, David!

  2. Otto Von Kuehlschrank permalink
    May 16, 2011 7:17 pm

    Thank you Frau Watt. It was nice to read sie facts instead of editorial masturbation. I’m sick of listening to the mouth pieces charged with deconstructing the American dream for our middle class one teacher at a time. I believe the reason why teachers with more experience are painted poorly by those wishing to dismantle public education is that they simply don’t want to pay them the money they have earned. If you fired older teachers you would save more money (since older teachers make more money). They don’t have the balls to tell the truth.

    Anyone who is against an equal education for people in this country is unpatriotic and anti-American. We pour more money into blowing up and rebuilding third world countries than were willing to invest in our own children. Stop your whining and give something positive back to your country. Give it a future by providing a stable funding source for education!


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