Thursday, July 09, 2009

It's Summer Break Halftime Now, But Soon The Teaching Game Will Again Start

We're right at the halfway mark of Summer Vacation for most participants in the game known as K-12 education, and several important questions exist. These include:
  1. What day of the week is this?
  2. Who is leading today's stage of the Tour de France?
  3. It's 8:30, should I get out of bed to watch today's stage?
  4. What day of the week did you say it was again?

These are the hard-hitting questions to which today's teaching professionals need answers. Yet, despite the fact our only real daily "work" these days is getting the mail (and maybe doing the dishes...maybe), it will soon enough be August 12th or thereabouts, and we will all return to our shellshocked, fractious workplaces to deal with another year of teaching between the standardized testing raindrops.

Meanwhile, what is happening, public educationally speaking, whilst we sleep late and wear pajamas (or less) all day?

Well, for one thing U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is saying some very vague, but very interesting things about teacher training, teacher pay and the Obama Administration:

“School systems pay teachers billions of dollars more each year for earning credentials that do very little to improve the quality of teaching,” he said. “At the same time, many schools give nothing at all to the teachers who go the extra mile and make all the difference in students’ lives. Excellence matters, and we should honor it—fairly, transparentlyand on terms teachers can embrace.”

This was just one of several juicy quotes in a speech Duncan gave to an assembly of National Education Association (i.e., one of the two big teacher unions) members this week. As noted in Education Week, union members variously cheered and hissed their way through Mr. Duncan's remarks on "merit pay", "better training for administrators" and "reworked tenure provisions".

So what? Why should a teacher wearing pajamas (or less) around the house at 9:30 in the morning eating Cheerios while watching the end of today's stage of the Tour de France care about this? What difference, in the long run, will the Obama Administration make in public school education? What impact will the Administration ever truly have on our jobs?

Good questions, I think. Questions worth occasionally changing out of our pajamas for.

And doing what? Well that's another good question. I'll consider that one today while I travel into "town" for a discussion or two with various education folks who actually have to work during the Summer. If I find anything worthy of changing from pajamas (or less) to work clothes, I'll pass it on.

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