Day: July 29, 2014

Bad attacks on good teachers

 

Texas is not New York, as countless politicians have felt the need to remind us over the years, but so-called education “reformers” who pose a threat to public schools in both states share a common tactic – the demonization of teachers.

On Monday, an advocacy group called the New York City Parents Union filed a lawsuit challenging New York’s teacher tenure laws. This follows by only a few weeks a court ruling in California declaring that state’s teacher tenure laws unconstitutional.

Like sharks swimming to blood in the water, other detractors may begin using these cases to renew attacks on “bad” teachers who allegedly have jobs for life for all the woes befalling modern civilization, beginning with their children’s struggles in the classroom.

In truth, no teacher – good or bad – is guaranteed a job for life in New York. Tenure simply guarantees a teacher in that state due process protections against being fired unfairly.

Texas teachers don’t even have tenure. Most have year-to-year contracts. But they do have certain job protections and employee rights that TSTA will continue to strongly defend, both out of a sense of fairness for teachers and their families and a concern for the school children who deserve the quality education that the vast majority of teachers provide, with a minimal amount of turnover and disruption.

Who, you may ask, demonizes teachers in Texas?

Pick your own word, but the point is that Texas teachers, as a group, have been dragged through a recent history of disrespect by politicians who praise them publicly while:

# Slashing education funding — $5.4 billion in school budget cuts a few years ago cost 11,000 teachers their jobs and crammed thousands of children into overcrowded classrooms.

# Paying teachers some of the lowest salaries in the country and forcing them to pay ever-increasing health insurance premiums.

# Robbing teachers of valuable teaching time and their students’ of learning time with an absurd, counterproductive series of high-stakes, standardized tests.

And, if an attempted home rule takeover of Dallas ISD is successful, teachers in that district may be deprived of basic workplace rights, with teachers in other districts targeted next.

Teachers in Texas don’t have tenure. But they – and their students – have a lot more to lose as these ideological attacks on public education continue.