To the Chicago Teachers: Fire All of Them "The sound you make is Muzak to my ears/You must have learned something in all those years./How do you sleep at night?" - John Lennon
Since I was a kid I was tired of teachers striking. They make a lot of money. And they can't be fired very easily because of a load of crap called "tenure".
I am ashamed to say I wrote an article years ago about this and I deleted it because I felt it might offend someone. This is not my nature. So I'll give the gist of it, because it applies to this situation.
1) No teaching position should be salaried. A very large hourly wage is sufficient.
2) There should be no tenure whatsoever for any teacher anywhere for any reason. They earn their job every single day of their lives. If they fail to do so, they are fired.
3) There should be no health care provided. They pay for it out of their wages.
4) Teacher evaluations should be done by students who are voted upon by their peers. This evaluation process would be done in concert with local college students studying to be teachers as a result of auditing classes in local schools as part of their thesis or regular class work.
5) NO UNIONS. Any wage increase is based entirely on merit alone.
6) Teachers are to sign confidentiality contracts stating they will not discuss individual students outside of the work environment. I say this because I was in a social situation this past week where there were numerous local teachers. These people were mentioning young people by first and last name, while being around people who have no connection with their school. They should have been fired and sued for that. And I told them so.
7) Only people who are charismatic, talented public speakers should be hired. They develop their own curriculum, no State curriculum should be allowed. State curricula opens the door to plug just any hack into it. No creativity is possible.
8) Teachers should be regularly drug tested, hair tested if necessary.
9) No pensions. Teachers open their own retirement accounts when they begin.
10) No Boards of Education. No longer will we have to deal with parents who have no lives so they feel they can influence the direction of education based entirely upon their lonely lives.
No, this is not meant to be a harsh tirade on teachers. This is to ensure that only those who are REALLY dedicated to the COMMITMENT of teaching. Teaching is a calling, it is not a job. The sooner we weed out the lifetime hacks, the better off we will be. I also recognize there is a concern about security, especially in large cities. And I really have one suggestion about this:
1) One Marine. One Marine is stationed in these tough schools. You don't hire a bunch of morbidly obese security people, or bother the police with this. Just one Marine. He will be stationed at the school, and would be granted the opportunity to recruit. Police are nothing but derided by students in the inner city, and are subject to Internal Affairs investigation and discipline, not to mention lawsuits, for even the slightest perceived infraction. A single Marine who responds to difficulties, and granted immunity from frivolous lawsuits, would be the immovable object . A Marine commands respect simply because what he does is almost unattainable. And most inner city kids can't fathom commitment or ultimate respect or sacrifice. They will learn it by example. And this Marine is an instrument of the government and will not be accountable to lawsuits or unreasonable discipline in the carrying out of his duties. Trouble would end pretty quickly.
It's time we got serious about education. Now it is merely babysitting, hoping you don't get shot. Much of what I just wrote comes from my experience as a counselor in one of the most affluent school districts in Upstate New York: Brighton School District, part of Rochester, New York. What I saw when I worked there astounded me. I am not an easy candidate to be surprised. I used to go into crack houses and so-called "shooting galleries" and teach drug users how to clean their needles with bleach and water so they wouldn't get HIV/AIDS. These people at the Brighton Middle School made me sick. Talk about entitlement! The kids were great, and many of them graduated DESPITE their teachers.
I urge, and always will urge that there be a non-PC crackdown on education. Teaching should be an ultimate commitment; a calling. Much like ministry. And if it's not your style to do it, then please STAY OUT OF THE FIELD.
Andrew T.Durham is a graduate of State University at Albany, with a degree in Psychology/Philosophy. In the late 80's to mid 90's he was instrumental in creating ground-breaking outreach/prevention programs, as well as being a highly successful public speaker. A former acupuncturist and clinician (primarily to inner city adolescents), he has also been a consultant to the Massachusetts State Department of Public Health and several non-profit organizations. He is an accomplished musician - proficient in 7 instruments - ,actor and author of 10 plays, 5 of which have been produced. He is currently a consultant for small non-profit agencies and lives in Rochester, NY