Monday, October 20, 2008

When students are punished for the incompetence of adults

While engaging in my usual internet procrastination this afternoon (actually, I was searching for some updated info on how the latest economic debacle with affect public education), I ran across a sad story. 375 teachers were fired in Dallas on Friday.

On the one hand, it comes as no surprise to me that public schools are starting to suffer under the economic pinch. In fact, the story itself, is part of a much, much larger story. For one thing, what the city of Dallas is suffering from is what many large cities also suffer: underprepared, and sometimes less that honest leadership. Let me be clear here. I am not saying that all city school district leaders (and I am talking upper-level management specifically here) are unprepared and dishonest. However, Dallas schools suffered from the type of leadership that is seen as the stereotypical norm.

What is truly sad about this is that teachers were the ones who really suffered, as did students. Well, especially the students. And, students will be victimized again when there are no full-time teachers hired to take the place of those who were let go. In fact, students will be subjected to a revolving-door of substitutes. When it comes time for testing, students will not make the growth expected, and teachers and students will be blamed (as usual). Only, in this case, the blame is off its mark. You can say substitutes are under-prepared, even unqualified to teach a subject area. But, they do not choose where they are placed; nor did they choose to fire 375 teachers (to make up for a gap in the budget grown under another leader's rule). But they will be blamed regardless.

The winner in all of this? Those who want to strip the public schools of even more money, those who want to privatize, and those who hate the public schools. The losers? Why, the students, as usual.

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