Mike the Mad Biologist

Despite The Boston Phoenix’s running articles that occasionally contain the word fuck, as well as having an ‘adult section’ complete with ads for ‘massage’ (why one has to wear a bikini to give a massage escapes me; also, prostitution isn’t exactly feminist), their politics are about as alternative or radical as a wet noodle. This is best shown by their unrelenting and irrational assault on teachers, although the continual brushback by their readers seems to have had a slight effect.

Well, now the Phoenix editors have decided how to fix the Boston schools–even as these same schools have better than expected NAEP given the city’s poverty; they also do better than the national average at educating poor kids, but clearly teachers unions had nothing to do with that.

Wanna know their brilliant idea?

Ready?

Asking teachers to work longer hours for the same pay.

I’m sure a wage cut is exactly what’s needed, never mind that Brockton, MA didn’t have to gut their union contract to have significant improvements.

And in other news, management has announced that the beatings will cease once morale improves.

Now, I could be unfair to the solons at The Phoenix, so here’s their plan:

  • Increase flexibility in teacher hiring and assignments.
  • Improve teacher-evaluation process to provide actionable feedback.
  • Make student achievement a factor in those evaluations.
  • Reduce the role seniority plays in reassignments and layoffs.
  • Extend enrichment or development time for students and enhance mentoring and collaborative development for teachers.
  • Expand the role of parents and students in school-site councils and teacher evaluations.

Not bad, except for maybe the teacher evaluations bit–that should be the principal’s job. The seniority issue isn’t great either*. But here’s what comes next:

To realize these goals, a longer school day for students, and probably a longer school year for teachers, will be necessary.

Maybe I missed the herd of Magic Ponies which crap platinum bars to pay for this longer day and school year. Because the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have large piles of money that they can’t figure out how to spend (hell, when it’s cold, they just throw the money in oil drums and light it on fire).

With reality-based ideas like this, it’s a miracle that The Boston Phoenix hasn’t gone out of business.

Oh yeah, the massage section….

*One reason for seniority is that people, including schools don’t hire older workers, especially once they’ve been laid off and times are hard. We shouldn’t throw someone who has done what we asked them to do to the wolves.

Comments

  1. #1 A
    October 15, 2010

    I suspect that most of the things proposed by the Phoenix have already been tried, and have run to some limit (such as the 24 hour day, or evaluations by students/ parents clouded by the their grades /their children’s grades, or apathetic parents [alternating with busybodies],…).
    And if “student achievement [is] a factor in those evaluations” I want to teach only classes populated by offspring of the well-off, such as AP classes.
    And if there is no job security/seniority, I can understand that there are less qualified people willing to become teachers for the pay offered. And so on.

    But inanity in proposals to improve education is rampant.
    The Phoenix is not alone, the major national newspapers and TV broadcasters are full of uninformed education pundits spewing nonsense.
    Bob Somerby’s blog, http://www.dailyhowler.com/ has about daily examples.

  2. #2 A
    October 15, 2010

    Congratulations, Mike: By mentioning the “better than expected NAEP scores” you almost fullfilled the request of Bob Somerby’s “Ezra Klein challenge” in today’s Daily Howler:
    http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh101510.shtml#KLEIN
    namely to report that actually NAECP scores for black and hispanic kids have risen over the last ~ 9 years; implying that apparently public schools must have been doing something right.
    (Only, we want more of it, as white kids also improved, so an achievement gap remains.)