Friday, October 28, 2005

Geez, these educators

This is an issue that I have with the whole Education monopoly and specifically a few people. I applaud Arnold Schwarzenegger for his work on reforming education in California. I think that Texas could use a little reform too. Here are my issues with education in Texas.

The first point is that people who go through the Education department rarely pass their EXCET. We've all heard, "those who can do. Those who can't, teach. (Those who can't teach, teach gym)." Most of the people who go through the education department at UTPA tend to embody this saying. They don't pass the EXCET! On the other hand, people who go through other majors: business, biology, math, and whatever, have no problem getting certified. How is this possible? Why does't UTPA do something to fix the problem? They should do it as a matter of pride.

Next issue. The TAKS test. I think I have GW to thank for this. The TAKS is such a colossal waste of time. Teachers spend a lot of time teaching kids how to pass the damn test. They don't just educate kids like they should. Learning builds on previous learning and from prior context. For example, if I teach you what a fruit is, I can then proceed to teach you the different types of fruit. The same with education. Yet, teachers spend so much time teaching kids specifically how to pass the test rather than just building on older lessons. Once you know what a fruit is, exposing you to different types of fruit won't allow you to forget what a fruit is. Don't tell anybody this, schools are now beginning to seek people with majors OTHER THAN education. They want fresh blood and fresh perspectives, not somebody who has been indoctrinated in failing practices. Teachers, you know that professionals can usually walk in, go through alternative certifiation, and pass the EXCET on the first try. Don't even try to deny it.

This brings up a situation that happened to my wife when she visited our daughter's principal at Leal Elementary in Mission, Tx to find out if after-school tutoring is required. Our daughter brings home straight A's, usually. Once in a while she will slack and bring home a B. She's the top reader in the entire school, including grade levels above her. Just today she read through Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in about an hour and a half. She read through the last Harry Potter book on one Saturday, the day after it was released. In addition, she scores in the 99 percentile on her tests. So, this principal, who knows who she is. Her name is Tien, which is Chinese for "sky". She stands out and he knows her by name. My wife asked if the tutoring was really necessary. He tells her that it's to ensure that she'll pass the test. So my wife asks if it's mandatory. He tells her it's recommended. She reminds this guy that it's Tien Mata. He tells her that she should stay to make sure that she passes the TAKS. She reminds him that this is Tien Mata, is it really necessary. So, he tells my wife that if we don't want her to stay after school, we can provide a written request that she go home after classes are over. Then, he has the gall to tell her that not staying after school will probably affect her TAKS score. Such arrogance! If it weren't a crime to touch him, I'd go bitch slap the principal. Geez these educators. Go Arnold!

Here's another thing that gets my goat. Teachers complaining about pay! Yes, you heard me right. I can write about this because my wife is a teacher. Do you know why teachers are broke all the time? Cashflow management. Teachers graduate and start making $30k in their first year. $30k! It's not a huge windfall, but it's enough to provide a decent life and, if managed right, make a teacher wealthy. What kills teachers is financing cost. They'll get the $80k home with a 30 year mortgage that will end up costing them $170k. They finance $20k for the car over 5 years, which costs $40k. Of course, there is also the student loan payment, the ballet classes for the princess, little league for jr, and weekend trips to San Antonio and Austin. Living the high life is what kills teachers. They want to keep up with the Jones's. I have news for teachers. The Jones's are broke. If you are a teacher, go to http://www.daveramsey.com and get your act together.

This segues well into the next issue, merit. Why do teachers get an annual pay raise? Just because the have not quit or because they did a good job in educating? It's for not quitting. Whether they teach little Johnny or not does not matter. There is no meritocracy built in to education. It's all based on how long a teacher stays. There are many stories of principals wanting to fire teachers, except that it would cost the district more money to fire the teacher than to allow them to continue doing a lousy job. There are so many stories of good teachers leaving the public school system because lousy teachers earn more simply because they can work the system better. I can identify with this. I've worked with people who have advanced ahead of me because they lie and cheat. This isn't to say that teachers lie and cheat. I merely want to reenforce the fact that many good teachers stop teaching because merit doesn't matter.

I have more issues. Most of them with specific teachers, so I won't go into that here. Just keep in mind that legislators give teachers far more consideration than they probably deserve. Yes, I said it! You were thinking it, but don't have the guts to say it. Get rid of the TAKS, don't worry about teacher pay raises, and institute some meritocracy into the education field.
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