Archive for September, 2010

More about teachers

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Yesterday I posted a thought about the movie, Waiting for Superman.

I didn’t say enough. There’s an analogy that might help see where I am on teachers.

You may remember that in the 80s and 90s, criticism of American auto makers was high because of poor quality. The entire focus of quality then was on assembly line workers. The media was full of criticism of auto workers who were pictured as lazy and caring nothing about the quality of what they were building. The result was such things as Quality Circles and Employee Involvement, which attempted to fix quality by focusing on the front line people. No one asked how auto workers could build a good car if the design and engineering weren’t of high quality.

That concern with the whole system came later, when the shortcomings of focusing on the assembly line became obvious. Each of the Big 3 engaged in redesigning the product development process.

The similarity to today’s criticism of schools is compelling. Again, we’re blaming the front-line worker, in this case, teachers. We know that when you’re trying to fix a system, you have to look at the whole system. For education, the system includes teachers and administration, but also the community and family. Without addressing poverty and early childhood education, many children are is systems that leave them without the knowledge and skills they need.

Waiting for Superman

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

I haven’t seen the movie Waiting for Superman yet, and I’m not sure I will. I think the review from The Nation makes good sense about charter schools and teacher unions.

(Full disclosure: I am a union teacher and a strong supporter of public schools.)

More than that, there is much evidence that charter schools are no better than public schools. One of the most effective school reformers is Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.