Newsweek’s cover this week proclaimed that “The Key To Saving American Education” was that “we must fire bad teachers.”
Now, that’s what I call a sophisticated analysis of a complex problem….
Yes, there are bad teachers. But, as the saying goes, if the only tool you have is a hammer, than every problem looks like a nail.
Instead of only scapegoating teachers, perhaps a more accurate and non-black/white solution would be to also look at curriculum, school and district leadership, parent engagement, and community pressures like unemployment, safety, and health care. Is it really too much to ask that experienced journalists (and others) recognize that most problems of any kind require a multi-pronged approach?
And it might be helpful if the writers didn’t say that teaching doesn’t attract “the best and the brightest.” Questioning the overall intelligence of teachers is not only insulting, it’s wrong (see Do Teachers REALLY Come From The Bottom Third Of Colleges? Or Is That Statistic A Bunch Of Baloney?)
And then they claim that some private charters are models for us all because they are successful and don’t “cherrypick.” In the same sentence, the writers say “they take anyone who will sign a contract to play by the rules.” Excuse me, how is that not cherrypicking?
The Newsweek writers praise the New Orleans’ success with charters as well, but don’t mention the 70 hour work weeks that are burning their teachers out, as highlighted by the New Orleans Times Picayune yesterday (thanks to The Educated Reporter for the tip). Those kind of expectations are really going to keep teachers in the profession for the long-haul.
These kinds of magazine covers and articles might help sell copies and contribute to feelings that complex problems have simple solutions, but they certainly don’t contribute anything of value to public discourse that could lead to positive change.