Education Career Services

April 9, 2009

Education House Bill: Career Commitment?

In typical fashion, this morning I enjoyed a cup of tea for breakfast while relaxing in the back porch and reading the Orlando Sentinel.While skimming, I noticed the headline: “Tougher teacher tenure bills move forward.” As my neighbor is a teacher, I decided my attention would be necessary…after all; a teaching career is a highly respectable (though often under-appreciated) trade. (Quotes in this blog were taken directly taken out of the paper—just to add a measure of context.)apple-coreu-s-178660-3

“Teachers also could be fired at any time if their students underachieve.”

For several years I was an instructor at a local college and to now learn a teacher’s career can be decided by students seems be a tad unfair, unpredictable, and un-defendable. After all, there’s so much more to being an effective teacher than standing in front of the class and lecturing. For teachers out there putting in 60+ hour weeks setting curriculum, reading papers, and tutoring, my respect is freely given to you.

On note with the quote, no doubt there is a relationship between outstanding teachers and student achievement but how many students just don’t care about achievement or intentionally disrupt the learning process for all lucky enough to be in the same class as the trouble-maker? Is it fair to now bring the concept of child success or failure onto the sole burden of the teacher? Where are the parents in this equation? Is it right to allow students to play such a powerful role when deciding promotions and terminations? Additionally, once students become aware of their power, how long before it is leveraged to their advantage? How absurd is this new policy to you (or is it just me)?

“…a tenured teacher would be limited to a five-year contract.”

Maybe not so bad, at least at first glance. But then again, many of the best teachers I have had the pleasure of learning from held over ten years of classroom experience. When does the sense of commitment by the school come into play? We trust and ask our teachers to guide our children but then throw a huge question mark which can be used as an administrative scare tactic. I am highly concerned about the blatant message as well as the latent meaning with the subjective agenda of this house bill.

Schools are all about lessons…in this, what does this lesson teach those looking for a career and for those looking to hire? If you’re looking for a career, be prepared to live life as a puppet-where no matter how hard you work and how well you do your job, you have no control over the strings binding you with your company. In effect, the precedent is clear: the House and Senate say it’s okay to terminate on the basis of a customer complaint, no matter the factors or agenda behind it. Are you feeling warm and fuzzy?

The bill “passed both the House and Senate committee votes today.”

How many people throughout the state of Florida knew of the upcoming vote? How many people in the state of Florida are willing to accept the consequences of this bill? For those outside of Florida, look out, this bill will act like a virus – so be prepared.

We are experiencing some of the most difficult times of recent memory and to have our educational leaders (House and Senate) allow fear to dominate the lives of teachers is, in my opinion, a travesty. And what does this tell the community and the children going to public schools? Ultimately, how can we expect our teachers to remain committed to the students and community when there is no return of commitment?

I’m not sure who the winners in this career move are…but I am certain who the losers are.

What’s your school district up to? How many out there know, I mean really know?

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
dhuffman@careersi.com
Education Career Services: http://www.educationcs.com
Career Services International: www.careersi.com

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