4/8/14

Teaching . . .

The fine folks (sarcasm) of the Kansas legislature pulled some shenanigans this weekend and passed (by the narrowest of possible votes - which is how you KNOW shenanigans was pulled) and opened the door for our esteemed (I can't even type it without laughing) Governor Brownback to sign in to law the removal of the right for teachers to have the protections of due process.

Is it a strike against the union? Sure. Is that potential red flag to a state full of employees who work in heavily unionized shops and where every level of education just got a little more dicey? Yep. But I'm not going to make this about that . . . I want to focus on "due process" (as I understand it). I'm not a political scholar and I'm no law expert (so if I am all wet here - please just throw me a towel vs. jumping all over me) but there was one legislator that said something particularly troublesome (from my always uneasy perspective) . . .

Some lawmakers, like Republican Representative Allan Rothlisberg, say schools need to be run more like private sector businesses, where people can be hired and fired more easily.
“Produce or you’re gone," Rothlisberg says. "Private sector does it. You don’t meet standards, you don’t meet goals, you’re gone. That’s the way it should be in the public sector.”
Clearly Rep. Rothlisberg doesn't know much about anything . . . is he arguing there are no unions, processes, or protections in place in private business and the private sector? Even for an "at will" employment state like Kansas - lots of very poor-at-their-job-people get to stay employed for a long, long time.

I was raised by educators - my mother a teacher, my father an administrator. I listened to MANY conversations at dinner and at other times about how hard it is to educate and how hard it is to be a good educator. I chose NOT to teach. I'm horribly impatient, I don't like any kids (other than my own), and I would not want to put up with the politics of education. BUT I am observant enough to see the difference between what I do and what my parents did as relates to "due process" and "meeting standards" and "meeting goals" . . .

My press releases don't go home to 23 houses each night. None of my Tweets ever have to wonder where their next meal is coming from. While perhaps poorly written, none of my web copy has an actual learning disorder. There are no bullies in my laptop. There are no drugs, alcohol, or junk food getting in the way of my monthly analytics meeting. I am not in an environment where too many bodies occupy too little space or where budgets have cut back on everything including facial tissue, crayons, and the temperature that the building itself maintains.

Nope. I don't deal with any of that. But teachers do. Every. Single. Day.

Do I think the bad ones should be protected and allowed to keep their jobs? Heck no. I'm a taxpayer and that is the future of America they are half-assing. BUT I want them to have due process and to know why they are being fired. I want all of us to know. I want their colleagues to know as a warning sign that x = gone. Do I think due process should protect those accused of misconduct? Yep. It does at my job (private sector). Do I think due process should be used to evaluate a classroom that under-performs year after year on standardized tests? Sure.

People misunderstand teaching as an "easy" gig. 8 AM - 3 PM, summers off. That is the cliche, right? That is straight up wrong. I don't know ANY teachers that work those hours (and, frankly, the joke I once heard (can't remember who said it) was that teachers had to be out of work at 3 PM so they could compete against the high school kids for the hourly jobs they needed to supplement their incomes). I get time off from work. I, candidly, pretty much come and go as I please (I am at work way, way, WAY more than I am not - in case "due process" is watching). I work in the private sector.

I'm not saying all teachers are perfect. I'm not saying all private employees are perfect. I'm saying ALL professionals deserve the basic rights to know what they are accused of, to be able to defend themselves, and to know - if they fail in that defense - WHY they are being terminated.

This is the future of our country, people. Let's not make it any harder on those who are willing to push the ball up the hill.