Saturday, February 7, 2015

The agenda of school "reformers"

I wrote this in a fit of pique this morning, after reading about Arizona's teacher shortage and the number of classrooms being run by subs.  Not just uncertified but degree-bearing adults who are dedicated to the task, people I call itinerant educators, but subs.  People who took the gig because it's easier to get a job doing that than designing roller coasters (or whatever).  And not just long-term subs, so at least students would get the same lackluster experience every day.  But serial subs, people who come in for a day or a week and the next time you see them it's in Phys Ed instead of in physics. 

Anyway, the following is based on observation and pattern-finding.  It may or it may not reflect reality.  But I find it useful in explaining the actions of school "reformers" and predicting how their big education initiatives will play out.


The agenda of for-profit cheap-labor conservative school “reformers”:

1.) Make teaching an impossible job.
a.) Require excessive bureaucracy.
b.) Mandate high standards and frequent changes, and provide insufficient support.
c.) Reduce salaries and benefits.
2.) Watch as qualified candidates run to more lucrative careers, like delivering pizzas.
3.) Engage in a number of stop-gap measures designed to exacerbate the problem.
a.) Hire unqualified candidates to do the job.  For example, say that teachers with life experience are better than teachers with specialized training in education methodology.
b.) Badly implement reforms based on actual science.
c.) Blame everything on a lack of God in schools.  (Not a requirement, but good for some chuckles.) 
d.) Under-fund the various employment mechanisms.  For example, say that money used to pay teachers’ salaries isn’t “reaching the classroom.” 
5.) Decry the public-education system as a failed experiment. 
6.) Sell your favorite get-rich-quick scheme (charter schools, exclusively-computer-based learning, vouchers) to the state as the only possible solution.  Promise public-school-level results for the same price.  Spend less than 1/7th of the amount on student education.
7.) Profit!

Epilogue: When this doesn’t work, say that you underestimated the costs of special education.  Pocket two years’ profits, close up shop and push the students back into the public school system you’ve worked to dismantle.