In Philadelphia, the war on teachers continues. I don't see what the fuss is about. Access to drinking water is a luxury!
Like neoliberalism writ large, the school reform movement is a study in contradictions. As I've written before, the laughable hypocrisy at the heart of school reform is that the self-same movement that constantly calls for quantifiable assessment and accountability totally shirks the same. The empirical metrics for major reform efforts like charter schools, private school vouchers, and merit pay are terrible, in aggregate. If the concept of charter schools was a principal, Michelle Rhee would have fired it long ago. And when you point out the continued failure of these measures to produce statistically verifiable, reliable gains-- absent the rampant cheating that attended Rhee's "progress," I mean-- the no excuses crowd suddenly has a lot of excuses. Unionized public school teachers always need to get the ax now; for nonunion charter schools that perform no better (or even worse), there's nothing but time.
That contradictory logic extends to the nature of teacher compensation, as here. The antilogic of school reform, distilled: our current teachers are not talented, skilled, or hardworking enough, so let's making teaching an immensely less attractive job. Solid thinking, there. If it were true that our current teachers are bad at their jobs, there would still be precious little incentive for better candidates to want to take the job, particularly since the self-same reformers are working tirelessly to make the terms of employment worse. When you point this out to the arch-capitalists who believe that ECON 101 will save our schools, they wax ineffable about how "real teachers" do it for love of education, love of children, love of our society.... In other words, they use the logic of capitalism to justify everything but expect teachers to be economic romantics. To which the only reply is: fuck you. Do you do your job for the love of children? Would you spend the next 30 years of your life in bad working conditions, trying to solve intractable problems, because of some vague commitment to community, while the community has no similar commitment to you?
The typical reply is, well, I support higher salaries for teachers! Which is a promise that, as they know, they have no ability to deliver on. It's just a feint. Tenure and job security are tangible employment benefits that don't cost a lot of money; that's why they're prevalent. Saying "I would pay them more in exchange for making their benefits far worse" is not a responsible claim when you can only deliver on the latter.
And it isn't enough to get them into the job. You have to get them to stay. Teachers leave the profession in droves. Turns out that those Nice White Ladies who take it on themselves to heal the world get tired of it after a couple years in the machine. They're the manifestation of school reform thinking: empty promises, fake commitment, superficial caring, and cruel optimism.