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Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Friday, February 25, 2011

It all seems to go too fast

I'm having a hard time keeping up with all the things happening in the world right now. Between the earthquake in Christchurch, the insanity that is Glenn Beck, all that is happening in Wisconsin, the daily craziness of Washington DC, and the totally bizarre changes in the middle east, I'm just overwhelmed with the news. It is too much, people. I can't process all this.

Today one of the large national teachers unions announced that they are ready to look at tenure. Thank F'ing God is my basic response. As a former teacher I believe in teachers being protected by unions, but I also believe that there are a lot of teachers that have lost their mojo and resent being in the classroom. Those teachers are so burnt out that they need to be dismissed for incompetence, but with the tenure rules so entrenched, there is just no way to get rid of them.

Years ago Gemma had an English teacher who was toxic. Not just to her, to every kid. He was a horrible teacher and he graded unfairly. Once I figured out that he was a big problem and that his refusal to meet with any parent, plus his refusal to attend an IEP meeting meant that there was no way I could possible talk to him, I went to the principal to complain. With me I brought about 7 manuals of style, and other documents proving my point that the teacher was full of shit. The principal admitted that this teacher was a pile of trouble over many years of complaints, but with tenure the principal's hands were tied. The crappy teacher is still teaching in that middle school, despite his lousy skills and attitude.

This experience, on top of a few other crappy teaching experiences over the years taught me that tenure, a great protection for teaching job, was not so great for the kids that got stuck with noxious teachers. As a former teacher, I worked with one teacher that honestly believed he had been taken on a space ship and examined by aliens. Yes, he was bonkers. He was also the head of my department and the guy that wrote my reviews. If there was ever a guy that should not have been protected by tenure, it was this character.  This was the very beginning of my career, my first job teaching and I got to see first hand that tenure wasn't a good thing.

I believe in unions and collective bargaining, but I've never really warmed up to tenure. I don't understand why teachers are such a special subset of employees that once they've worked for three years and earn tenure that their jobs are protected for life. Besides supreme court justices, who else has a guaranteed job for life?

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