Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Teachers in the Crosshairs

NPR Check reader "Gope" noted in the open thread of Sept. 25th that NPR is launching a yearlong series on education. As Gope states "Horrors, a teacher quality series is launched.
'over the next year NPR will explore [efforts to improve teacher quality.] We'll take a look at the latest crop of teachers entering the profession. NPR's education correspondents, Claudio Sanchez and Larry Abramson are in the studio.'
Gope notes that Sanchez has favorably reported on the disaster that was "educational entrepreneurs" in Chicago, pointing out that NPR hasn't exactly covered the latest stall of the Chicago experiment.

Gope highlights this sloppy hearsay of Sanchez regarding teacher colleges when he tells Hansen, "There are roughly something like 1300 colleges, and I've had people tell me that only 50 are doing a good job." Ohhh, some people have told him - then it must be true!

I have to say that I'm doubtful that anything original or progressive will come of NPR's series. Sanchez has also shown a fondness for the conservative education star, Michelle Rhee, while Abramson delivered a shameless promotion of a Louisiana junk-science education initiative.

My biggest complaint with NPR and its education coverage is how in spite of the dominant influence of socioeconomic status on student achievement, NPR insists on focusing on the far smaller influence of teachers. In the introduction to the series Hansen states,
"Everyone from President Obama on down seems to agree that a good teacher can make a huge difference in a child's life. American schools have been trying for decades to improve teacher quality. The results are mixed. Over the next year, NPR will explore those efforts and we'll take a look at the latest crop of teachers entering the profession."
You have to love how in a month when census reports indicate that income disparity in the US is growing (hitting those at the bottom very hard), NPR takes a fine sentiment about how teachers can make a difference in a child's life (obviously) and turns it into a tool for placing the responsibility for student achievement at the feet of the teachers - instead of the institutions that continue to siphon the nation's wealth into the hands of the richest 1% of the population.


mjs said...

It seems bankers have more influence on a child's future than instructors. Go figure.


larry, dfh said...

I'm so NOT looking forward to this crap. It's going to be lies about charter schools interspersed with lies about standardized (privatized) tests, bracketed by lies about teachers' unions.
One of my best friends got a DEd so that she could teach kindergarten unencumbered by the admin. Every contact with the pricipal she has a union rep with her. They can't stand her, but there's nothing they can do. Her main goal in teaching kindergarten is to keep kids from being pigeon-holed in their first experience with the education system. Many of the problems with children which she faces are directly correlated to the parent(s), so she works with the parents as well as the kids. I'm sure claudio would understand, after all, he 'taught school in the '80s'.

Anonymous said...

I worked for several years as a teacher in public schools.

I became totally disillusioned, not by the students (whom I loved), but by the complete disdain with which teachers are treated by pretty much everyone -- from politicians to parents to administrators in their own school!

Everyone "says" teachers are important but when it comes time to treat them like they are (including paying them a salary in line with that of other professionals), they are not willing to lift a finger.

And of course, everyone is quick to blame teachers for all of our children's (and society's) problems.

How many actual TEACHERS do you suppose NPR will interview for their piece?

I really wish the nitwits at NPR (Vivian Schiller and her marching band of corporate whores) would just shut up about things they know absolutely NOTHING about (which is pretty much everything, except marketing and PR)

RepubLiecan said...

Anonymous at 6:53 AM said:

"I really wish the nitwits at NPR (Vivian Schiller and her marching band of corporate whores) would just shut up about things they know absolutely NOTHING about (which is pretty much everything, except marketing and PR)"

This is a perfect example of their proficiency in marketing and PR. In service to their corporate and conservative masters they are downplaying any role those entities have in widening the socioeconomic gap responsible for much of the poorer education outcomes AND the shifting the blame to teachers and teacher unions. That's a twofer in their accounting.

Anonymous said...

We were fore-warned during the campaign and the appointment of Duncan Donuts that the Chicago "model" was coming. It is design to, among other things, destroy teacher unions.

AS an aside? From the way I view things the public school system is, by design, set up to "fail". The primary goal of schools in my view is to prepare children to become Americans, worker drones/consumers, and soldiers.

From that pov American public schools succeed.


gopolganger said...


Yeah, public ed. sucks, but it's the best we've got. Take Texas (please) - they're putting Newt Gingrich in the history books as some kind of modern day founding father.

Yesterday, NPR had a story about the New Teachers Project and how they can take a professional in, say, banking, and make a teacher out of them in 6 weeks. While this is laughable, what the teacher colleges do is also pretty laughable. The idea that a teacher (who should be proficient in a wide range of fields, including but not limited to reading, writing and maths) doesn't need to be expert in anything is laughable. Yet that's usually the deal. You don't need to know much about anything to get a degree in Liberal Arts and then a 5th year of continuing to not know much about anything prepares you to hear complaints about paper cuts and vomiting and peeing...for chump change, because, really, who wants to do that?

Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

The easiesst way to improve the quality of teachers is to raise the salaries they may earn.

The ONLY way to 'improve' scores is to raise the socio-economic status of the parents of the children being tested. There is an almost one-to-one correlation between the socio-economic status of parents and students' test scores.

Claudio Sanchez is a drooling fuckwit...