Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Yeah I have some thoughts on teaching

Funny thing happened on the way to the All-White State.  Arizona State Senate President Russell Pearce on March 4th announced he would suspend further debate and committee review of immigration-related bills.  Up until March 4th, Pearce and his followers were pushing bills to enhance their crackdown on immigration from turning hospitals and schools into enforcement bodies to redefining citizenship and many motions in between.  Why the sudden change in legislative direction?  It seems that executives at 60 major Arizona corporations including Intel, USAirways, PetSmart, and the Arizona Republic sent a letter to Pearce telling him to back off the vitriol and hate because it was having an adverse economic impact to the private sector.  Really?  You mean you found it difficult to attract business, hire qualified people, and maximize profits?  I am sure Major League Baseball chimed in as well because the last thing they want is mass protests outside the All-Star Game this July.  Russell Pearce needs to follow famous Survivor villain Russell Hantz to redemption island and then bye-bye.
The saga of American security contractor-state department employee-CIA agent-attach√©-shooter Raymond Davis seems to be coming to a close in Pakistan.  As reported previously in this blog, Davis shot and killed two Pakistanis in Lahore when, according to U.S. sources, he was about to be attacked.  A third Pakistani was killed when he was run over by a State Department SUV responding to the shootout.  Davis has been in custody since the shooting earlier this year and has been playing the role of bargaining chip between the two governments and the two intelligence agencies: CIA and ISI.  On Wednesday, Davis was freed and returned to US custody after settling a blood feud with the families of the victims.  This Blood money is reported to be in the millions of US dollars.  This incident will only further increase tensions between the two countries as the US tries to crack down on the Taliban on both sides of the Pakistani-Afghan border.
The movie Waiting for Superman and the recent budget battles in Wisconsin, New Jersey, Ohio, and other states have put a spotlight on the education system in this country.  Unions versus non-unions, public versus public/private charters, tenure versus performance, public employees versus private employees, and so forth.  I have written about this in the past, and what we need is to build an atmosphere of trust between all of the stakeholders.  This will require concessions and consensus and here is one observer’s opinion:
1)      Eliminate tenure and the bogus last in/first out. 
2)      Establish proper performance guidelines.  Education is not like professional sports where in one season the change in wins and losses can determine progress or decline.  Instead, it takes multiple seasons to ascertain if the culture of learning has taken hold.  We need to lose the sense of instant gratification and immediate results.  It doesn’t happen overnight.
3)      Once you know what good looks like, study it, copy it, and standardize your entire system and process on it.
4)      Teachers and administrators who get IT should be rewarded.  Lose the ‘everybody gets 3% raise’ and reward those that excel and eliminate those that fail. Pay for performance, it’s American and it WORKS.
5)      Get parents involved.
6)      Emphasize writing and speaking for all.  They are the cornerstone of success.
7)      Establish magnet schools that bring out the best in students and naturally attracts their skills and talents.
8)      ScienceTechnolpgyEngineeringMathematics = STEM
9)      Create critical thinkers and nurture them as they are tomorrow’s leaders.
10)   Bad teachers need to be fired.  In our bizarro world, it is easier to disbar a lwayer or suspend a doctor’s license than it is to fire a teacher.  Get real.

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