Friday, April 22, 2011

The Nation: Teachers Are Not The Enemy

Pedro Noguera and Michelle Fine

April 22, 2011

Pedro Noguera is a professor of sociology at New York University.
Michelle Fine is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at City University of New York.
Public school teachers and their unions are under a sustained assault that is still unfolding. In 2010 Michelle Rhee, former Washington, DC, schools chancellor, announced the creation of a multimillion-dollar lobbying organization for the explicit purpose of undermining teachers unions. She has charged that "bad teachers" are the primary cause of the problems that beset America's schools. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has asserted that effective teachers need no experience. Romanticizing the young, energetic, passionate (read: cheap) teacher, he has made eliminating seniority preferences in layoffs (aka, last in, first out — or LIFO) his pet cause (it has been stymied for the time being by the state legislature).
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has slashed school aid by $1.2 billion while refusing to comply with a court-mandated formula for school funding equity. He has become a right-wing hero by demonizing teachers, lambasting unions, challenging tenure rights and introducing a crude teacher-evaluation process based on student test scores. Christie is also pushing what he calls a "final solution" — $360 million in tax credits for a tuition voucher system that would permit any child in New Jersey go to any school, public or private, and would include state subsidies for some students already attending parochial schools and yeshivas.

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