Perspectives: Rhee & Ravitch Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Teachers are under enormous pressure. Standards and incentives and expectations to make incredible marked changes in students’ performances create stress and sometimes undermine our faith in the people we must trust and cherish. It’s important to discuss how we can motivate reform within our public schools without seeing parents abandon hope and saying, I can’t wait five years for change to happen, and without seeing our teachers disillusioned and distracted. Shift would like to invite you to participate in this conversation by posting on its Facebook wall how you believe we can support our teachers and by joining our second Shift Breakout session next Tuesday, September 27 at CreateHere.
Tuesday evening, Michelle Rhee explored the important relationship between students and teachers. The Shift team values her belief that “If you look at things from the perspective of what’s good and right for children, rather than what is good for the system, then you end up with a very different set of policies.”
Whether or not you have children of your own, as a community, we need to shift our priorities to make sure what’s good and right for our children is always at the forefront of our minds. And, what’s good and right for all children are good teachers.
Rhee spoke of increasing teacher salaries based upon consistent student achievement—giving teachers incentives is a concept that is often discussed in education debates. While we are not arguing for or against it, we are reminded of an interview that former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch gave earlier this year concerning the need for great teachers in our public schools:
Part of the mania that we’ve been living with in the past two years is this idea that our schools are overwhelmed with bad teachers, and it’s not true. I think that is a part of the effort to undermine public education. The biggest problem we face with teaching is high turnover rate. Fifty percent of the people who enter teaching are gone within five years. That creates a revolving door when most communities want and need a stable experience.
And Ravitch compares our system with Finland’s:
It’s the poster nation. They don’t have any attrition in Finland. They have made teaching a highly respected and desirable position there. Government pays all of one’s college expenses, and it’s very competitive. Once they are in, they give them tremendous support.
Knowing the concerns of these two respected education experts, combined with the concerns of teacher burnout mentioned in our first Shift Breakout session, we look forward to hearing what our local education experts have to tell us about current efforts to recruit good teachers and engage effective teaching behavior next Tuesday, September 27 at the second Shift Breakout session.