Friday, January 23, 2009

Bad Teachers, Part 8 of ∞: Quotes & Misquotes

And then she supposedly said....
But Bernstein said the union doesn't want those teachers in a classroom anywhere.--last line from "Union Backs Brooks' Plan", Albuquerque Journal, 1.22.09
When she really said....
"Today's Journal has a story about the district's plan for Rio and Ernie Pyle. The last line is a gross and shocking misquote from me. I will be calling Andrea at the Journal and asking her to print a correction."--from an email sent by Ellen Bernstein, Albuquerque Teacher's Federation President, 1.22.09
Now I really wish I had read the Journal story prior to seeing the email from Ellen Bernstein, instead of the other way around. It would have been fun to contemplate for a few hours a teacher's union using words like "anywhere" in such a context.

Alas, it's far more complicated, and Bernstein actually told the Journal much more, and heck, I'll just copy/paste the particulars from the Bernstein email:

* If an administrator thinks a teacher is "bad" then it is their job to evaluate them appropriately and offer them assistance as
outlined in our negotiated Peer Assistance and Review program.
* We will not agree to the $5,000 differential if it is tied to a merit pay idea in any way.
* I did say that if a teacher is "bad", we have agreed upon ways of work with them, and if they are appropriately evaluated they
should not be a teacher anywhere-stressing that this is a district-wide statement of our union's commitment to good teaching, and not a statement about teachers at Rio and Ernie Pyle.
* I also stated that the agreement for Rio and Ernie Pyle does not take away a teachers right to be evaluated appropriately and that the letter of commitment was to the instructional design.

Oh, well. Something a great deal more thoughtful and less draconian than a simple "anywhere". But obviously all above that wouldn't fit into a 350 word story at the Journal. One wonders what percentage of the world/truth ever does fit into a 350 word story.

I do find it strangely hard not to be disappointed. That "anywhere" had me thinking we might be getting somewhere regarding "bad teachers", even if it possibly means your humble blogger would be determined to be a "bad teacher", and some Kafkaesque trial by no-trial system was being put in place to eliminate me and my incompetent teaching colleagues.

But again, I had read the email prior to the Journal article. So instead my thoughts go to how the newspaper's misquote might alter the public relations landscape on the Rio/Ernie Pyle changes, and how difficult it must be for a Union President to absolutely know that some teachers are "bad" by any criteria or definition, while also understanding that the current criteria/definitional process of establishing "badness" is horribly flawed and incompetently implemented.

Remind me to never become a teacher's union president. Not that it has ever occurred to anyone to ask me to take on the job.

P.S.: Also remind me to write a bit more on the whole "teacher evaluation process" in APS. It's something I haven't even gotten around to, and it's riper than a Rodney Dangerfield setup line for plenty of bittersweet professional punchlines. Have a good weekend everybody.

3 comments:

Lucky said...

Teach Special Ed. I've been around all year and not only has no one ever been in my classroom, it seems no one plans to.

Anonymous said...

Lucky,
They don't have the ca...nes to walk in a sped class.

Kelsey Atherton said...

I can't imagine that you haven't read this, but it seems to me to be the best writing on teachers quality anywhere, so I figured I'd go ahead and link to it.

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/12/15/081215fa_fact_gladwell?currentPage=all