Eduwonk, among others, links to an essay from last week by a California teacher who wants more out of his work. He loves working with his kids, but he is frustrated by the fact that public-school teaching in America is deformed as a profession: few career advancement possibilities, few material incentives to excel, few controls on quality, and so on. While they can hardly receive all of the blame, America’s teachers unions are actively engaged in keeping education mired in mediocrity, with a few exceptions that serve only to prove the rule. The writer’s own union, the California Teachers Association (CTA) is certainly not one of the exceptions:
I want to grow. I want to excel. I want to feel like I’m not doing the same entry-level job I was six years ago. I want to feel like factors outside of my own willingness and drive to improve are at work in shaping my professional life.
There’s a growing wave of this stuff. When the CTA lady came to the union meeting to specifically alert new teachers to the dangers of proposed merit pay provisions, I shook my head in tight side-to-sides, because true systems of meritorious compensation are the future of the work we do. New hiring practices, the dissolution of tenure, authentic evaluations, performance based pay – this is what’s needed to get us off that ledge and quell the schizophrenia of being an ambitious and successful teacher in a public school.