Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rick Scott's rush to the bottom of the barrel begins in education

TALLAHASSEE- No one likes to work for a company that micromanages its employees to death. It stifles creativity, creates a hostile environment between colleagues, and fosters litigation. As companies go, it is a recipe for self destruction.

Teaching is a calling, yes. This is true. But whether we like it or not, it is also a job. Someone must do it. It is not a crime to teach. A person should not feel they are evil for needing a decent working environment, free of constant hassle, and justification. They should not feel guilt for using the bathroom. There are some minimums for the treatment of our teachers, are there not?

Can anyone do this? Can those who complain and point loudest, do this? No. They cannot. They can hate, well enough. They can point, blame, rage, begrudge someone a vacation who works 16 hour days and most weekends for nine months; but, it takes a very rare person, a living breathing person, to actually teach our young.

So too, no one likes to work for a company in which seniority, and regular pay raises for good performance, are punished with termination. This too fosters mole mentality; keep your head down. It also curtails forward progress that some modicum of institutional knowledge base permits.

But these are the very measures the Florida House of Representatives are proposing and debating this morning in the Rick Scott/Tea Party race to the bottom of the barrel, in terms of pay, and of treatment for Florida's teachers.

One by one amendments to  House Bill 7019 that would otherwise introduce some logic to firing and hiring, and security to teacher positions, are being struck down by the elected body. The senate version is SB 736.

Of a recent survey finding that Florida had jumped to a 5 of 50 state rankings for education gains, the same study also found that Florida gets an F in funding education and a C in supporting teachers. Fifty percent of new teachers leave the profession within the first five years.

Rep. Dwight Bullard (D-Miami) led the charge to put some mercy into the bill with a handful of amendments. One he sponsored, sought to allow a successful teacher to remain in place if they so desired. It did not pass this day's vote.

"Under this bill as it is, there goes that opportunity to put your son or daughter with that phenomenal teacher."

Some of those offering testimony cited specific cases of teachers allegedly bullying kids, without referencing whether the teacher was fired, permitted to remain in the profession, but rather, as a nebulous sort of catch-all pointing out the glaring holes in the system allowing bad teachers to remain in place. Supposedly, and to hear these stories, Florida is unique among all states of having bad teachers.

A representative from the teachers union said that's not the point, to argue tenure, which does need to be looked at. Nor are unions upset about removing "bad teachers" from the classroom. On the contrary. But rather, that the language of the bill as it is now, makes utter mockery of order in its implementation.

But then, perhaps in the Tea-Party/Scott/Koch scheme this is the point. Chaos, disorder, angst, upset, unrest, strikes, litigation, resulting in the destruction of education, and the spread of ignorance.

If we accept that big business wants to destroy Florida's public education system turning it over to privatized fiefdoms of quasi-religious ignorance, for those attending vouchered chartered schools, with nothing to be done for those less fortunate, then you can indeed see the pattern developing here.

You see that promoting chaos in a system that was formerly on the right track, achieves the aim of "divide and conquer."  The new laws not only foster conflict between teachers and parents, but also serve to deepen the divide between teachers and administrators. Total disunity.

It also drives good people from the profession, as well as driving the learned from the state.

Those unwitting pawns in this are the well meaning administrators who do need to have greater tools for removing bad teachers from their ranks, and the parents who have suffered at the hands of bad teachers.

Unfortunately these well intended souls are blinded by politics and the sounds of their own personal stories, to evil works of outside interests, who are using their outrage as a means to destroy education in the state of Florida.

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