Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Follow-Up To Prior Post on Teachers Unions

It is ironic that President Obama honored America's teacher of the year the same day IPS cut 300 teachers, including 9 who were nominated for local teacher of the year awards. Mr. Mullen proves you don't need decades to make an impact in education.

With only seven years under his belt, who knows if Mr. Mullen would have gone from national teacher of the year to out of a job had he been at IPS. But the fact it is even conceivable tells you how broken IPS is systemically.



varangianguard said...

Sorry, but a teacher union is hardly the only bad boy on the education block. The whole gamut of players has been responsible for sailing the boat onto the reef.

Singling out the teachers union is disengenuous, at the very least.

iPOPA said...


I am willing to give you or anybody else an ear to set me straight in my ways. Who else supports a system that could possibly keep the best teachers out of the classroom? And if you don't mean on this issue, what other failing are you pointing to and who are its villains? (Not to be so dramatic, but we need some Joe Clark in all of us, or we're never going to shake this system for the better).

varangianguard said...

This is a Ph.D. thesis of its own. Villians?

Elected Government (all levels).

Unmotivated Parents.

The general citizenry.

Colleges who teach teachers and admininstrators.

School Administrators (of all levels).

Teachers who have chosen their careers poorly.

There is some movement afoot to address deficiencies in Indiana education. The problem I see with it is that there are too many "players" involved and the proposals will get compromised into mediocrity before they are implemented.

This isn't just about IPS. In fact, I see problems with American educational methodologies ever since the 19th century. IPS has some good programs, as good as anywhere else around here. IPS also has some serious problems. Problems that need to addressed by society, not superintendents. You know, schools like Carmel have teachers that should have chosen other careers as well.

Blaming the teachers union is like blaming the man in the crows nest for the sinking of the Titanic. It lacks validity.

iPOPA said...


Normally, you're pretty sharp, but this is not your best effort.

I can say "yes" to the following things: many parents are terrible, society doesn't value education as it should, some colleges teach teachers poorly, some school administrators are incompetent, U.S. educational methods are bad, and some people chose the wrong profession. But none of those things can improve education as easily as letting the best teachers stay in the classroom. If anything, all of these woes makes it all the more critical we have the best teachers in the classroom.

And the biggest obstacle to achieving that goal is...who? Parents? Administrators? Colleges? The general citizenry?They all want it, except for that part of the general citizenry comprised by "the teachers" who just needed a gig who are now terrified of losing their jobs.

Yes, SOME of "elected government" opposes this idea, but I suspect it's the portion of "elected government" that gets a boatload of money and votes from the teachers' unions. Take that money and organizational heft off the table and see how many would support seniority in education over quality. I promise you, it would be zero. It wouldn't even be all the members OF the teachers' union.

Yes, there can be many reasons why a ship sinks. But when the easiest (and sometimes only) thing you can do to minimize the risk of the ship sinking once it's in the water is to be hypervigilant and keep your eyes open....then yeah, you should blame the guy in the crows nest who blew it. And you should also blame the people who created the system that put the incompetent guy with bad eyesight in the crows nest....because he had seniority.

varangianguard said...

This may not be my best effort, but I don't have space here to delve into the depth required.

It is superficial thinking to believe that changing any single factor will even begin to address the problems with American education.

OK, let's just say that we kill the teacher unions this afternoon, and all the best and most motivated teachers are somehow miraculously allowed to stay in the classrooms (not a given, with the politics of administrations).

Still, what does that leave you with? The same stuff. Lamebrained/wrong-headed administrations/administrators; unmotivated parents; disconnected politicians; "what's in it for me" citizens and commercial concerns.

What does that mean? Lame curricula/testing; too many kids who know their parents don't care, so why should they; funding that has more to do with politics than education; lack of community and business support.

Ummmm. Unions didn't really matter as much as the superficial pundits seem to think.

Result same crap, one less player.

I have yet to hear anything to convince me of anything different. Want a fix? Radical and comprehensive change will be required with the major players buying in. Chance of that happening? Not very good.