Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Another Hit Against Experience

As I delved more into what is going on in the world of education policy, I have become a huge fan of Diane Ravitch. I believe she is one of the biggest authorities on education policy and THE biggest advocate against the current tide of school reform efforts. Unfortunately, she does not get as much media attention as she should. The media tends to favors those people who advocate for more testing, unregulated charter schools, etc. Today, she posted a blog about a report done by The New Teacher Project, which is an organization founded by Michelle Rhee. It essentially concludes that young teachers, including first year teachers, are more effective than teachers with multiple years of experience. 

Here is the tip-off to their self-interest: “In fact, in these districts, 40 percent of teachers with more than seven years of experience are less effective at advancing academic progress than the average first-year teacher.” Imagine that! The average first-year teachers (that is, the ones you can get if you work with TNTP) are far more effective that 40 percent of teachers with more than seven years experience! You can see where this is leading: experience is irrelevant because those great first-year teachers are better than 40 percent of the veterans. Why not ditch tenure and seniority and get rid of 40 percent of anyone who has taught for more than seven years?
I really don't get it. With the exception of athletics (due to the physical constraints that come with age), what other career devalues experience? I remember applying for summer jobs in college and seeing ads for fast food, quick service, and casual dining restaurants only seeking people with experience.  Before I can work at Backyard Burger, I guess I have to work for McDonald's. Before I can wait tables at Ruby Tuesday, I gave to work the graveyard shift at iHOP or Waffle House. But if you want to be a teacher, you better be fresh out of school, preferably without a degree in education or even the field in which you plan to teach! 

We always hear recent college grads make this complaint about the job market: "All of the companies want people with experience. How can I get experience if no one will hire me?"

I guess they should become teachers in the districts ran by these reform-minded mayors and superintendents. Thankfully, that does not appear to be an issue where I live. However, when it comes to the state government, I do not see that lasting forever. 

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