Monday, May 12, 2008

Eductaion discussion on PBS

I just saw Randi Weingarten speaking on Charlie Rose on PBS. It was really quite interesting to hear someone speaking sanely about education and not blowing things out of proportion and making them seem cataclysmic. For example, many programs like NCLB, vouchers, teacher incentives, and the like are often talked about in a manner that makes it sounds like since something isn't working, nothing will ever work again! (there's a word for that, but I can't think of it now...) In fact, they played a clip from an earlier interview Rose did on education, and the man (whose name I didn't catch) was talking about, for lack of a better term at the moment, "lazy" teachers, and saying all the usual things about how impossible it is to be fired once they get tenure and how they destroy the system and all. Weingarten pointed out that the only difference between firing a new teacher and a tenured teacher is that the tenured teacher has to go through a hearing first (teachers out there : verification?) and that it's easier than people think to get bad teachers fired. However, she did seem to avoid the topic of whether the bad teachers really do get fired.

That was another interesting aspect to me - how Weingarten and Rose interacted. Rose obviously was trying to get certain answers out of her by steering the conversation and biasing the questions, but Weingarten dealt with it in two distinct ways - first, she turned the questions around to get across her own points, and second, she payed very special attention to the details about what Rose was saying so he couldn't back her into an answer, which, honestly, is a trap that she could have all to easily fallen into. However, she seemed like she was avoiding several questions simply because Rose was asking cut-and-dry questions, and she obviously was not willing to simplify the complex and multidimensional situations into a cut-and-dry answer for him.

I wish I could remember more of this now. Tomorrow, I'm going to look for a copy or rerun somewhere; there was a lot of good stuff in it.


P.S.: oh yeah, she gave a big plug for arts and music! Represent! Although, her "magic wand" list at the end of the program didn't mention the arts, she did mention getting, keeping, and working with good teachers and administration (one of several good points, but this was what stuck out because that's what Rose manipulated to be her main point at the end)

EDIT: so, I found the page where the video is eventually going to be, although I don't know how long that's going to take or how much video they're going to make available.

Also, I do now remember that they were talking about salaries, and Weingarten said something to the effect of using school-wide pay incentives to aid recruitment in certain core areas instead of just boosting pay in just the English or Math department, which is what Rose was trying to get at, I think. (I may have this a little muddled, but I'll find out for sure once the video is out) Now, I can see where Rose was coming with this, that in giving incentives to all teachers, you're rewarding those who aren't deserving of or needing incentives. But, look at it from the other way - what is it saying to the music or gym teacher who sees their core-subject co-workers not only getting more scheduling sway but also more pay? How demoralizing!

EDIT: The video has now been updated; you can use the link above. Enjoy!

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