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Breaking: Making Teachers Feel Like Garbage Makes Them Feel Like Garbage

Gee, if you demean teachers, single them out using dubious metrics and promote the idea that the way to improve schools is to fire them, small wonder that teachers start to feel unwanted:

The slump in the economy, coupled with the acrimonious discourse over how much weight test results and seniority should be given in determining a teacher’s worth, have conspired to bring morale among the nation’s teachers to its lowest point in more than 20 years, according to a survey of teachers, parents and students released on Wednesday.

More than half of teachers expressed at least some reservation about their jobs, their highest level of dissatisfaction since 1989, the survey found. Also, roughly one in three said they were likely to leave the profession in the next five years, citing concerns over job security, as well as the effects of increased class size and deep cuts to services and programs. Just three years ago, the rate was one in four.

Someone can explain to me how public education in America is enhanced by making teachers feel like shit.

By the way, the real goal of this right-wing education policy isn’t solely to humiliate teachers as much as it is to humiliate unions. They want to build a narrative of union bosses protecting “bad” teachers and engaging in corruption at the expense of kids. For the most part, the only organized entity that pushes back against right-wing ideas about education are teacher’s unions. So if you take them down a notch in the eyes of the public, you have more opportunity to get policies through like vouchers and charter schools and all the rest.

The collateral damage here are the besieged teachers themselves. The broken value-added model paints all teachers with that broad brush, the idea that they’re getting away with bad performance reviews. As if this idea of reviewing teacher performance is somehow new. The problem is that this particular metric doesn’t correspond to reality, not in any meaningful way. So the promoters of right-wing education policies blow right by it, saying that they need some hard data, and value-added is better than nothing. In reality it’s much worse, and it demeans an entire profession in addition to weakening the structures upholding public education in America.

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David Dayen

David Dayen