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on Nov 2, 2013
1) most teacher coming from teaching programs from Stanford, Santa Clara, etc., don't get jobs on low performing districts. That's why they stay in the profession.
2) tenure just protects a teacher from an abusive principal or poor school culture. Believe me, the bullying and age discrimination that goes on from management would never be tolerated in industry.
3) Currently, unions have become so weak; they are no longer the protection they once were...
I love it when business people try to fix the schools. Between corruption, nepotism, school scandals and more, business people stick their fingers in education and 99.9% of the time make the problem so much worse. If you want to fix schools find a retired group of teachers, leave the superintendents and their ilk out of it, and let those teachers fix the system. Or go with business people and just continue bleeding money and creating more problems with our schools...
> Of the 6.2 million children in California, 53 percent are Latino
> and 1.6 million of them "cannot function in English in the classroom."
This has been the case for a few years--
Latino kids now majority in state's public schools:
Latinos now make up a majority of California's public school students, cracking the 50 percent barrier for the first time in the state's history, according to data released Friday by the state Department of Education.
Almost 50.4 percent of the state's students in the 2009-10 school year identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino, up 1.36 percent from the previous year.
It's not likely that anyone associated with education will ask how it is that so many kids born in the US can't speak English? It's unlikely that anyone associated with California schools will ask why the US government isn't doing a better job of controlling our borders?
People have for a long time complained about the decline in the performance of California schools--without having the intellectual integrity to point out that children born in a foreign country, and brought to the US illegally, are not likely to be able to compete with those who were native born. Why not? Why is the simple truth so difficult for people associated with education to deal with?
One almost gets the sense that Mr. Hennessy, and others, might be tip-toeing to the point where they suggest that the California schools might want to stop conducting classes in English, and convert to the status quo of the Mexican school system. Trying to teach both a primary language, and a rigorous accademic schedule at the same time is not going to work. Anyone, and everyone, knows that. Perhaps its time for the people of California to come to their senses, and demand the Federal Government does its job and shut the southern border--putting an end to the free-flow of people who are clearly distorting the basic environment so much that we (California) can not even run our schools without having to admit that English is not suitable for the students enrolled.
So--if English is not suitable, then is anything that we hold dear, suitable--such as US history, US government, and the understanding of Western civilization?
If the Educators from Stanford are not willing to address the issues head-on, then who is?
You are clearly willing to address what you call the issues: Latinos kids, can't speak English, illegally, Mexican school system, and so on. The problem is, however, how do you, so bold with the assertion as to what the issues are, explain the same achievement gap with our African American children who are born in America, actually even at Stanford Hospital, grow up immersed in English-speaking households, and members of this great Western Civilization.
> however, how do you, so bold with the assertion as to what the issues are,
> explain the same achievement gap with our African American children
> who are born in America
The answer is simple to explain-education is, in large part, cultural, and can not be "painted" on students by sitting them in classrooms. Education involves each child's parentsin addition to any formal education provided by schools. There have been any number of studies that point out that children of poor families are not prepared for verbalizing as children of middle-class families, based on the number of words their parents (meaning their mothers) speak to them in their early years:
The Power of Talking to Your Baby:
By the time a poor child is 1 year old, she has most likely already fallen behind middle-class children in her ability to talk, understand and learn. The gap between poor children and wealthier ones widens each year, and by high school it has become a chasm. American attempts to close this gap in schools have largely failed, and a consensus is starting to build that these attempts must start long before school before preschool, perhaps even before birth.
There is no consensus, however, about what form these attempts should take, because there is no consensus about the problem itself. What is it about poverty that limits a child's ability to learn? Researchers have answered the question in different ways: Is it exposure to lead? Character issues like a lack of self-control or failure to think of future consequences? The effects of high levels of stress hormones? The lack of a culture of reading?
This basic point: "the lack of a culture of reading" certainly stands tall as one of the problems facing children trying to compete in a system where reading is woven so tightly into the fabric of our society that it would be impossible to conceive of what life would be like without a written language.
There is little evidence that middle-class mothers are given a handbook of child rearing when they leave the hospital after giving birth that includes directions about talking to their children. It's difficult to believe that middle-class mothers don't instinctively understand that children are in a constant learning mode, and that any/all verbalizing with them is preparation for their children's first words. (And then their second, and …)
So, why wouldn't "poorer" mothers sense the same thingsince they live in the same general world, as the middle-class? This becomes the question that would be well-answered by "cultural differences".
We also have a troubling problem of out-of-wedlock children born to mothers of African descent. These numbers have been in the 65%-70+% range for a long time now. Arguing that these mothers are too busy working to talk to their children might be one answer, but it's more likely that the lack of a "culture of reading" that provides an understanding for the need for "words" is the more likely culprit. Moreover, not having a stable family life can hardly be helpful to children in their formative years.
Most education professionals seem to have tried to remove families from how children are educated. There is a lot of money in education these days. So why would the "industry" want to acknowledge the work that the parents do--for free?
This point about a lack of "culture of reading" extends into later life for these children, also. If you were to visit the home of an African-American family, would you expect to find fewer books, or more books, than in the homes of a family of Caucasian ethnicity? Books have been one of the hallmarks of an educated, and successful individual. Homes where books are few and far between can hardly be endorsing reading, and education, as those homes filled with books.
The schools can only do so much. They can not make up for the lack of mothers not talking to their children from (or before) birth. This kind of knowledge is the sort that parents pass off to their childrenboth directly, and indirectly. Newspapers like the New York Times can write articles about itbut it's not likely that people who don't read a lot are going to notice these sorts of articles, and learn from them.
The belief that the public schools can somehow level the playing fields for all children has not been fulfilledno matter how much money has been thrown at this problem. Perhaps someone will someday conceive of a paradigm that helps to offset the differences between families that have embraced a "culture of reading", and those that have not. But this is a hope that seems to induce a flow of money into the education industry without much in the way of results to justify the expenditures.
The last comment is appalling...and the millions of people who died in WWII would agree
If it was meant as a joke, it's not funny and it couldn't be in worst taste.
True, sarcasm does not always work well on-line.
From the article:
All four panelists decried funding inequities in California public education.
"A beginning teacher's salary is $38,000 in Oakland; in San Francisco it's $48,000, and in Mountain View-Los Altos it's $60,000," Lotan said. "That's wrong; that's immoral. ... That should not be."
Hennessy said teachers working with struggling, low-income students should be paid more than other teachers, not less.
WHEN WILL HENNESSY SAY professors working at colleges with struggling, low-income students should be paid more than professors at Stanford?
Not only would the real David Starr Jordan, if he were alive, get a kick out of the last writer's logic -- but S.I. Hayakawa, if he were alive, would as well.
I'm not apologizing for that comment. It's wondering who should apologize for his [portion removed] comments about Mexican immigrants. It is exactly that kind of nationalistic and xenophobic treatment of refugees, noncitizen a and immigrants that characterized national socialism in Germany and in other countries including this one against the Chinese during exclusion, against the Japanese in the 1940s, against dust bowl refugees by California in the 1930s, and in other places and times . [Portion removed.] Thousands are right this minute being held in desert camps including families with children . Thousands are dying in the desert . Singling out people due to national origin or citizenship status is a road that the Han race has traveled and it did not go well. It is different only in degree.
With regard to the tenure timeline President Hennessy proposes, I am in complete agreement - when I look back on my work with students during the early part of my tenure, I am grateful for the guidance and support of my department chair and the veteran colleagues who stepped in to support my teaching. Perhaps something like an apprenticeship or journeyman-ship are in order for all of us who seek to better our practice. While teaching is a vocation, it is also a demanding profession that requires rigorous training and exacting standards to yield a true professional.
With the best intentions - I would like to speak respectfully to the ideas surrounding teachers whose students who come through our classroom doors each day without the benefit of a centered family environment - factors that might include mixed immigration status, linguistic diversity, parents/guardians struggling with mental health disorders and addiction. Those of us who devote our days to such students are compensated in exactly the same manner as those teachers whose students would easily earn their way into President Hennessy's former classroom. Certainly students in such compromised homes face a barrier to classroom success. My efforts implementing differentiate instructional strategies and assessment strategies reflect the extraordinary challenges my students face daily...and ought to be recognized....and rewarded appropriately.
I appreciated reading President Hennessy's comments that giving teachers tenure after only 2 years, is too soon. It is the only profession that gets tenure after such a short period of time. Finland the country that is considered to have the best educational system- takes the teaching of teachers much more seriously.( Canada is considered the second on that list.) The U.S. is not close to the top. I also agree with Ms Launer's points. However if I may say- she is a teacher who it was fine to get tenured after 2 years. She is really good with her students not only teaching well, but also being very encouraging and supportive. I know - my son was in her class.
And many of us on campus are looking forward to President Hennessy stepping down. He has done a wonderful job, but it's not in the long term interest of any University to have a President serve more than 10 years. Other than Kennedy, who served 12, you have to go back to 1968 to find a President who didn't realize when it was time to step down.
The Board of Trustees seems to disagree re: Hennessy -- who has presided over the biggest fund raising and building efforts in the University's history, while totally avoiding some of the Presidential scandals of the past.
I'm not sure if the Board Disagrees or if they are quietly waiting - but I would say the vast majority of faculty in my department as well as in the neighborhood feel that 10 years should be the max, no matter how good the President. Bob Lyman was vocal on that point and by example stepped down after 10 years. This is not a commentary on Hennessy, the man, but on the nature of the office and the health of the institution. 10 years. Max.
Notice that Larry Kramer - one of the greatest Deans of the Law School - stepped down around 10 years (8, I think), and followed in Paul Brest's footsteps as CEO of the Hewlett Foundation. Paul Brest is another example of great leadership (also Dean of the Law School), and he started looking for something else at 10 years - I think he left around 11 years.
Truly great leaders know when it's time to do something different.
Hennessy is 13 and counting……..
Looking at the years served by each Stanford President shows a lot of variability.
Anyway, it's none of our business. It's a private University. Is this going to be another ugly, totally manufactured Palo Alto "controversy?"
@Sylvie, you and the "vast majority" of your colleagues might be right, but maybe not. Here's the list of all Harvard presidents from 1869 till 2001 - seems like 20 years more typical than 10. They hired Larry Summers, then age 47, next - the thought at the time was that he would be good for 20 years as well (though that didn't work out too well). Perhaps there's a reason the Trustees get to choose the President, not the faculty ;-)
- Neil Rudenstein - 10 yrs
- Derek Bok - 20 yrs
- Nathan Pusey - 18 yrs
- James Conant - 20 yrs
- Lawrence Lowell - 28 yrs
- Charles Elliot - 40 yrs
So tenure is a mixed bag, it protect teachers from bad administrators, but it also makes bad teachers untouchable. I dont get why 2 years either, why wasn't 3 years good enough?
Tenure has nothing to do with so-called bad administrators, if it did, it would be a reason to get rid of it. It is a union protection. It is not about our children, education, or professionalism. It has morphed into a no-fire clause that protects the worst teachers, who actually don't exist according to the union. These lemons sour the pool of talented teachers that our children have had in Palo Alto.
1. The teachers' union is the most powerful lobbying group in CA.
Union-negotiated contracts make it nearly impossible to remove a teacher for cause. Our district had to invest several years of Bd and Administrator time, and hundreds of thousands of dollars, to remove a single incompetent teacher. This included a "dance of the lemons" scenario.
2. CA law requires that in the event of layoffs, the newest teachers be laid off first, strictly in order of time served and subject-matter credential (to teach general lower primary, or middle school math, etc), without respect to performance. Why is this our state law? See #1.
3. Administrators must determine K-12 tenure before the candidate has taught 2 full years, in Feb-April of 2nd year. If awarded tenure, the individual has a job for life, independent of classroom performance. If not awarded tenure, the candidate almost always leaves to try again in a new district.
Having lived in two countries and four states, it is disappointing to see CA educational system trailing so behind. This is a state that has produced some major innovations, yet, when you compare our students' readiness (to compete in college and in the real world, they are put in a disadvantage. For the last 3 years, CA was ranked a "C" below national average when it comes to its public education quality. In 2011, it was #30 (out of 51), 2012 - #34, 2013 -#36.
No joke: most home-school parents generally have their children take different state's standardize tests to gauge their levels. I have friends in different states home-schooling. They ALL say that CA standards are so low that their average children would "A" the tests with ease.
I agree with President Hennessy that for a teacher to receive tenure after 2 years is not justified. * I have no affiliation with Stanford or the President in any way that I am not biased toward his opinion. It is purely a global observation. Like any workplace, there will be bad administrators/managers or what have you so using tenure to protect the teachers is absurd. In two years, one can barely figure out the system and more importantly, the needs of the students (not one size fits all)to claim that he/she is good for life. I have kids who are going through/gone through, all different grades in Palo Alto. And yes, as good as Palo Alto schools are, there are questionable teachers but they cannot be touched because they have tenure. Tenure after 2 years is mostly based on subjectivity of the principal and the administrators. So, if one knows how to play the office politics game well, one can get tenure. In the end, those who are hurt are the students.
Many of the other comments are valid in many ways:
* education starts with the parent(s)and family. If children are not brought up in an inducive environment, they are behind before they even start their first day in Kindergarten. Exposing children to reading is important but I am not convinced that it is a cultural issue like one suggested but more a socio-economic issue. According to the data, many parents do not speak English themselves so for all we know, they teach their kids to read but just not in English. (I am not debating % of race in our schools or immigration law here) Our school system has to break that cycle. I have no solution but ideas.
* teachers and schools are second - if teachers know that they could get tenure in 2 years, human psychology, they would do a very school job for two years to get tenure. Human psychology again, unless a teacher is passionate about teaching, he/she may start to lax off knowing that he/she cannot be touched. There is no motivation to do better. Worse yet, there is no motivation to do anything at all.
One can argue that we should not inject business thinking into our education system but it is more than that. Our education system should have award and penalty built-in. Otherwise, it is almost like socialism or communism...everyone gets an equal sum regardless of how much effort one puts in. When was the last time we saw innovation or achievement coming out of such ideology? So, Californians, how good you want your state to be is entirely up to you. Be involved, make a change, otherwise, don't complain after the fact.
Tenure decisions are currently made in less than 2 years - more like 16-18 months since they are announced in March or very early April. That isn't enough time to properly evaluate a new teacher's competence. To be fair, change it to 3 years for tenure. Yes, a bad administrator can ruin a capable teacher's career.
Any teacher with a secondary credential from a CalState University had lots of classroom experience. Student teaching is a big part of the curriculum & most student teachers go to the less well-funded districts as a way to give some free help to their faculty. The secondary teachers my kids have had did their student teaching at Andrew Hill (East San Jose) Westmoor (Daly City) Balboa and Galileo (both SF) all of which serve primarily low(er) income kids and are known for high crime & drop-out rates.
It is also true that 80% of a what a 4 year old child knows has come from what she has heard said by those around her. Kids from semi-literate families or non-English speaking households will be at a disadvantage in school. How long does it take them to catch up? Maybe ESL kids should be in separate classrooms? A couple of ESL teachers in both Santa Clara & Alameda County say that about 50% of their Adult Ed students are barely, if at all, literate in their native languages. Those parents obviously don't read to their children, ever.
One legal requirement for citizenship is an English test. (This probably isn't enforced or we wouldn't need bilingual ballots.) The problems of adult illiteracy, immigration and green card control shouldn't be used to slow down the curriculum or progress in districts which have high percentages of well-educated & consequently well-paid families whose children are very ready to be learn.
And yes, pay teachers more. Some very good teachers in PAUSD and SUHSD have left the profession here or gone to teach in other states in order to have a standard of living commensurate with their educational accomplishments. Pity 2 young teachers here who marry each other. Their chances of home ownership or maintaining future social relationships with their college classmates are slim-to-none. They'll eventually fall out of their social networks by economic inability to indulge in restaurant dinners, shared out-of-town weekends & joint-family vacations. Sad.
Hmm, teacher tenure after 2 years. Wonder how that benefits school children. But, maybe it wasn't supposed to:
"When school children start paying union dues, that 's when I'll start representing the interests of school children."
- Albert Shanker, President, United Federation of Teachers 1964-84, and President, American Federation of Teachers 1974-97.
No high school teacher should get tenure. It should be reserved for academic freedom in research-related situations. IMHO, teacher tenure is a curse and allows terrible teachers to remain in the system pretty much untouchable. The movie "Waiting for Superman" captured it perfectly. No less a person than Steve Jobs was opposed to teacher tenure in K-12 schools.
Administrator abuse should be solved by other means. The K-12 tenure system is total crap.
@ David Pepperdine -
I'm not quite sure what you're saying -
"It should be reserved for academic freedom in research-related situations." What does this have to do with high school?
"...allows terrible teachers to remain in the system pretty much untouchable." What's "untouchable?" Teachers? The system?
"No less a person than Steve Jobs was opposed to teacher tenure ..." Steve was quite a person but not known to be an expert in education. He was also known to be a tyrant to his employees.
I wish you'd paid more attention to your terrible teachers and learned some sentence structure and parts of speech.
Since you can't seem to decipher simple English, perhaps you should have done the same. Then again, perhaps you're a teacher worried about losing your job if tenure goes away!
While I agree with your position, you lose lots of points with your sarcastic note above.
Non-English speaking children need to take classes to be taught to speak and understand English before being allowed to enter first grade.
@ SCB - good idea. Maybe ESL summer school, mandatory for non-English speakers?
[Post removed due to copyright infringement. Please post links to third-party material instead of cutting and pasting.]
In private industry, many companies hire staff as hourly staff/temp employees for a period of time. It is very easy to let them go during this time. After a certain amount of time, usually a year, the hiring manager has to choose to either bring them on as 'permanent' staff members or let them go. (There are legal reasons why keeping temp employees on past a year or two is problematic (see Microsoft "permatemp" case)
Anyway, if the temp employee is 'converted' to a permanent/fulltime employee, then it becomes more difficult to terminate them. You either have to show cause--firing.. Or, you can do a layoff, although it has to be legitimately closing the position, or you can get into hot water.
My point is that this sounds a lot like the 2 year contractor --> tenured position for teachers. They are working as temporary employees (on an annual contract) and they can have their contract non-renewed and they are gone. No cause needed. After that, they can become a permanent employee, which they are calling tenured.
This is the same.
And for those folks that complain that there are certain 'tenured' teachers that are really horrible and stay on for years..well..have you ever worked in a company and noticed some employees that are pretty terrible, but seem to stay employed? It's a management problem. Doesn't mean there is anything wrong with the system. The teacher's supervisors are not doing their job. Just like in private industry.
What is written above is a misstatement. Employment in the US outside the context of collective bargaining or other contract is employment at will. Cause is not needed for firing the majority of employees. Teachers are under a union contract and have different rights. To find out what their rights are during the pretenure period consult the contract. The rights under the contract whether per or post tenure are not employment at will. They are on an annual contract which still provides protections during the period of the contract. President Hennessy wants to eliminate tenure for teachers to make it easier to dismiss teachers when they are ineffective. Tenure is a protection from retaliation based on academic freedom. It is given at universities and coffee to protect critical research .
The reasons for tenure have nothing to do with what a 3d grade teacher needs or does. It is not appropriate and it is causing problems. What should replace it is harder. Teachers still should be protected fr arbitrary dsmissal. That's the purpose of a union. But tenure seems misplaced.
Parent-- You seem to not understand how employment is actually practiced in private industry here in california. Yes, California is an at-will employment state, but because many employees are members of a protected class (race, gender, age, and a growing list), it is more difficult to terminate an employee. On top of that, if you want to have a healthy work environment for your staff, you can't actually practice 'at-will' firings without tanking company morale. Significant documentation, probationary periods, etc.. need to be done and even in the easiest of cases is a tremendous amount of work.
This is similar to tenure. The teachers 'management' needs to actually justify the firing. They can't just say, "I don't like him" or "He's a bad teacher--uh, I can't prove it though". The pre-tenure period is probationary and post-tenure is not. Same as in companies.
If parents are angry at one of their kid's teachers, I would look first to your own raising of your kid. How much TV does the kid watch? How about video games? Many parents I met that complain about their kids' teachers are doing this while their kid is zoning out on the couch with a game or watching a brain numbing tv show. Time to fix your own house!
"If parents are angry at one of their kid's teachers, I would look first to your own raising of your kid. How much TV does the kid watch? How about video games? Many parents I met that complain about their kids' teachers are doing this while their kid is zoning out on the couch with a game or watching a brain numbing tv show. Time to fix your own house!"
I can understand that there are hard cases in every job, but a system that protects bad teachers is wrong. It is unfair to good teachers and unfair to good students.
It's pretty simple. The reality of tenure at the K-5 level, if not the K-12 level, is that it functions as a no-fire protection for any teacher who makes it past two years on PAUSD, though sometimes three. A tenured teacher can get away with so much only because PAEA is too strong in PAUSD. Kevin Skelly is about to get a $10,000 raise because PAEA hasn't made a stink about him. Coincidentally, they have received two raises in six months.
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