Mike the Mad Biologist

Does failing to teach evolution qualify as bad teaching? Because, then, I might get behind the idea that teacher tenure should fall by the wayside:

Now several Republican governors have concluded that removing ineffective teachers requires undoing the century-old protections of tenure.

Governors in Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Nevada and New Jersey have called for the elimination or dismantling of tenure. As state legislatures convene this winter, anti-tenure bills are being written in those states and others. Their chances of passing have risen because of crushing state budget deficits that have put teachers’ unions on the defensive.

“It’s practically impossible to remove an underperforming teacher under the system we have now,” said Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada, lamenting that his state has the lowest high school graduation rate in the nation.

Eliminating tenure, Mr. Sandoval said, would allow school districts to dismiss teachers based on competence, not seniority, in the event of layoffs.

Failing to teach evolution, either out of fear or ideological belief, seems like a lack of competence to me.

Somehow, I don’t think that will be counted as bad teaching.

It should though.

Comments

  1. #1 dean
    February 2, 2011

    This has to be very high, if not at the top, of the list of questions having an answer so obvious the question didn’t need to be asked.

    A slight twist: Would the Republicans behind this be so bold as to claim [b] teaching [/b] evolution indicates lack of competence?

    I don’t thing they are that bold yet, but they’re not far from it.

  2. #2 dean
    February 2, 2011

    Apologies for committing the botching of tags in my first post.

  3. #3 David
    February 2, 2011

    If the less competent teachers are eliminated, then when the remaining teachers reproduce, the next generation of teachers…

    How can conservatives make this proposal and still oppose evolution?

  4. #4 greatbear
    February 2, 2011

    Evolution is the central tenet of biology. It’s time to stop pretending you can understand biology without the basics of evolutionary theory. Refusing to teach evolution is refusal to teach biology. Refusing to teach the subject they were hired to teach should be ground for dismissal.

  5. #5 Drivebyposter
    February 2, 2011

    Hey Dean, try using these things <> instead of [ and ]

  6. #6 Captain Patriot
    February 2, 2011

    Does failing to teach evolution qualify as bad teaching?

    NO. As long as that teacher explains that evolution is not 100 percent guarunteed undisputable fact.

    Now a better question…

    Does the NEA who accpets millions of dollars that should be going into the education sytem need to be defunded and disbanded? ABSOLUTELY! The NEA steals money for education. and uses it for their own puposes. of course, that’s what many unions do best.

    You can teach evilution in your government ordained schools if we can teach against it in our God ordained churches. Deal? Sounds fair to me. Now, kids bring your biology book to Sunday School and we’ll discuss the whole thing….

  7. #7 Captain Patriot
    February 2, 2011

    Creation is the central tenet of Christianity. It’s time to stop pretending you can understand Chrsitianity without the basics of the creation story. Refusing to teach creation is refusal to teach about Jesus. Refusing to teach the subject they were called to teach should be grounds for dismissal.

    This should be in the church laws.

  8. #8 DuaneBidoux
    February 2, 2011

    First of all it is total malarchy that any union or anything else keeps a bad teacher in place: no school is ever forced to renew a contract and no school is ever forced to hire someone they don’t wish to hire.

    Bad schools willingly hire bad teachers because nobody else will come to work for them. The one thing that is true is that underperforming schools should be allowed to pay more because the job is more difficult–and they shouldn’t be penalized if they have failed to raise scores on a standardized test in communities that are crime, drug, and gang infested.

    Second: is thie Captain Patriot guy (seriously here) satire?

  9. #9 Cpatain Patriot
    February 2, 2011

    Maybe we shouod solve the problems and let individual communities have their schools back and not make these great big huge schools. You know like in the 1940s and before when each community had its own school and that community was responsible for it instead of the whole state. It would solve many issues

    Yes thie captain patriot is for real. Maybe we could even let the Bible be the literature book like the old colonial days before the constitution was written. Putting God back and taking out leftism would solve many things here. I like change. CHANGE IT BACK!

  10. #10 dean
    February 2, 2011

    “Hey Dean, try using these things > instead of [ and ]“.

    Yup. The sad thing is, I know that: I can’t plead ignorance on this, it was just a stupid typing error with a failure to preview thrown in. I hope I don’t hit the trifecta.

    captain patriot is something of a notorious liar and troll on other blogs – he seems to be oozing his way around the internet.

  11. #11 A little common sense
    February 3, 2011

    I think a case can be made that unions have been made superfluous by Federal and state regulation. There is really little use for the NEA except to collect dues and employ union officials.

    On the issue of tenure, the same might be said because, historically, school systems were highly political. Granted, the politics were local, but that did not make them any less of a factor.

    So tenure was the only form of job security for teachers that had spent the required time and generally been looked over and approved by the system and the community.

    Just about every enterprise has its standards for performance and behavior. The military, governments, law firms, sales, medicine, crafts, manufacturing and even agriculture are a few examples. The combination of industry standards and government regulation is effective for controlling most of these enterprises.

    It is worth noting that, unlike the NEA, craft unions did indeed establish and set minimum standards for membership based on performance, ability, and demonstrated skills. The NEA, on the other hand, is adamantly opposed to any standards of performance.

    Does anyone now of any generally accepted standards for teachers? There is a National Electric Code and a National Plumbing Code, but there is no National Teaching Code.

    To be promoted to sergeant, a soldier knows exactly what he or she must achieve and what requirements of behavior apply. Teaching has no such standard.

    Shouldn’t there be a paradigm, benchmark, specification, whatever for teaching, and shouldn’t it be a significant factor in determining both advancement and retention?

  12. #12 dean
    February 3, 2011

    Shouldn’t there be a paradigm, benchmark, specification, whatever for teaching, and shouldn’t it be a significant factor in determining both advancement and retention?

    How do you take school funding into account? How do you take the economic background of the students’ families into account? How do you take parental involvement into account? If you base teacher assessment solely on student performance and none of these, you have a worthless method of teacher assessment.

    And, if you take away teacher protection and leave things to local politics, say goodbye to serious teaching of science in large parts of the country.

  13. #13 A little common sense
    February 3, 2011

    Reply to #12 posted by dean

    How do you take school funding into account? How do you take the economic background of the students’ families into account? How do you take parental involvement into account? If you base teacher assessment solely on student performance and none of these, you have a worthless method of teacher assessment.

    You’re right. Those are good questions. How would you do it?

    By the way, where did you see a suggestion that anyone should “…base teacher assessment solely on student performance…”?

    On the other hand, shouldn’t student performance at least be a factor in rating teachers’ performance?

    And, if you take away teacher protection and leave things to local politics, say goodbye to serious teaching of science in large parts of the country.

    Aren’t there other forms of protection besides tenure? Are you asserting that the governmental rules and regulations involving employment DO NOT apply to teachers? Aren’t the protections that apply to the remainder of the working population satisfactory for teachers, too? Why should they receive an extra level of protection that everyone else does not enjoy?

  14. #14 dean
    February 4, 2011

    I’m not a huge fan of rating teacher performance on student performance, because:
    * the tests are really lousy – Michigan’s MEAP program is terrible, but when testing season comes around it hangs huge over everyone in the schools
    * MEAP results in MI are most closely correlated to school funding and economic status of the school system. If there were studies on it (can’t find any right now) I’d bet that parental involvement is associated as well. Using our test results simply identifies the systems that are well off and the systems that are poor. Does it determine better teachers? I’d say it indicates where teachers can go to have better resources.

    The local push (where I live) and the push in other places where I know people involved, is to base teacher assessment purely on test results because it’s easiest and least expensive. I’d be surprised to hear of communities where that wouldn’t be the community preference, but I haven’t gathered the data.

    “Aren’t there other forms of protection besides tenure? Are you asserting that the governmental rules and regulations involving employment DO NOT apply to teachers? Aren’t the protections that apply to the remainder of the working population satisfactory for teachers, too? Why should they receive an extra level of protection that everyone else does not enjoy?”

    If you think that non-tenure protection would be enough to protect teachers who teach evolution in a community where it’s not wanted, or who teach physics stressing modern cosmological ideas, as much as they can be introduced at a high school level, is enough, you are seriously out of the loop. Parental pressure on administration = poor performance review = no support, all of which filters down to the students, and the loop intensifies. Even if teachers are not outright fired for refusing to cover stupidity (intelligent design) or omit discussion of evolution, or the big bang, the lack of administrative support will drive them out. Again, in our school system, we’re on the verge of a parent revolt driven by folks on the school board who
    don’t like the fact that the science curriculum, as updated by teachers and researchers from a local university and industry, increased emphasis (from the old curriculum) on evolution, modern physics, and even emphasis in mathematics

    “Aren’t the protections that apply to the remainder of the working population satisfactory for teachers, too?”
    No, they are not.
    “Why should they receive an extra level of protection that everyone else does not enjoy?”
    Teachers have an important role for the country’s future. They are already poorly paid in comparison to people with equivalent educations outside education (and if you give the old “teachers only work 9 months a year I’ll know you’re not serious”) – removing job protections will only decrease the pool of qualified people who are interested in the career.

  15. #15 Mike Haubrich
    February 5, 2011

    Common sense is neither, and a little is not a substitute for a lot. Common sense is just opinion based on a poor analysis of the facts.

    Shouldn’t there be a paradigm, benchmark, specification, whatever for teaching, and shouldn’t it be a significant factor in determining both advancement and retention?

    The individual states set benchmarks and standards, based on public input mixed in with the recommendations of educational professionals. The federal government creates conflicting standards by measuring schools using standardized tests that only measure limited skillsets. Schools are punished for not advancing the scores of the students, through de-funding of poorly performing schools.

    Teachers are put under pressure to emphasize skills that will be on the tests, even if they are not reflective of the state standards so there is a conflict.

    So, it would be nice if the states had consistent standards to follow that matched what the federal government requires them to teach. Of course, conservatives follow this mantra of more localized control and hate the federal government except for when it buys military equipment and starts wars. They don’t like the idea of a federal government setting standards, nor do they like to even fund a cabinet-level department of education. Oddly enough, it was the conservatives who gave us the idea that school funding should be based on performance on national standardized tests.

    Teachers unions serve to make sure that the rights of the teachers are at least paid attention to, because they have an important job.

    Teachers in rich school districts don’t face the problems in being able to educate their students that those in poor school districts face:

    Kids whose parents are either working three jobs to pay rent and basic bills, parents who are addicted to drugs and alcohol and neglect them, kids who have to step over homeless people while walking to school, kids who are not fed properly at home or who have to go to school unwashed and in dirty clothes because nobody cares for them. These kids don’t learn as well as those whose parents are more well off.

    If you give teachers in this district magic wands so that they can fix the lives of their students, so that their students are able to learn when they come to class, then I think we can look at some ways to come up with an objective way to pay teachers on a competitional, free market basis.

    Until then, learn a bit about how teachers manage to cope with the fact that they are doing more than educating, and open your eyes to reality and less towards the ridiculous ideals that teachers are all on equal footing and those with failing students are merely incompetent.

    It’s easy to criticize people in a profession you don’t practice, like calling a football coach incompetent, or a baseball manager a loser; but until you demonstrate some experience in their field you should perhaps refrain from such kibbitzing.

  16. #16 A little common sense
    February 6, 2011

    Reply to #15 posted by Mike Haubrich

    It’s easy to criticize people in a profession you don’t practice, like calling a football coach incompetent, or a baseball manager a loser; but until you demonstrate some experience in their field you should perhaps refrain from such kibbitzing.

    You’re kidding, right? If that became the rule on this blog, we would hear nothing but a great, ringing silence.

    Funny you should pick two sports examples. Sports is probably the most statistically-based profession outside of insurance.

    If you look at my posts, I did not kibbutz. I asked questions, offered suggestions, and looked for solutions to a demonstrated problem.

    For what it’s worth, I developed several very effective advancement and incentive programs over the years. They covered both manufacturing and service industries. As far as I know, they are still being used, and at least two of these plans date back to the early 90s.

  17. #17 Barry
    June 1, 2011

    “Does failing to teach evolution qualify as bad teaching? ”

    I think that you mean ‘Does teaching evolution qualify as bad teaching?’, in which case the answer from every single one of these people trying to destroy teachers’ unions is ‘yes’.