Teacher pay and tenure: creating a free agent market?

I have been known to describe the current situation of public education as not sustainable. The pay and benefits, and job protections, are very generous. Most working schlubs would really like to have that set up. I also freely admit that I would not be a good teacher in the sense of an objective assessment of cost-in versus product-out by which most of us are measured. Perhaps, however, changes will take hold that can save public education from itself. 

In Washington, D.C., the School Chancellor and the teachers’ union look set to make some real reform. According to The Economist,  in exchange for much higher merit-based pay, teachers would give up tenure protections. Teachers who excel get justified rewards while those who do not could be let go with ease. Backers believe not only will school and student performance improve by weeding out ineffective teachers, financial savings will come through greater system flexibility. Jonathan Alter, writing in Newsweek, also addresses the issue, albeit under a political guise. At least this time, I am not a lone voice on “educational sustainability.”

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Yet another confederate flag case

Once again, we suffer yet another juvenile escapade of confederate flag waiving. Read about it here. A few students in Bloomington, Minnesota irrationally thought it to be a quality prank to waive the confederate flag in the parking lot as students and parents were arriving for graduation ceremonies. The students were reasonably punished. Not surprisingly, the students and their supporters tried to hide behind the tiresome response tying the confederate flag to an admiration of Southern lifestyle (how these things evolve from prank to a post-hoc expression of lifestyle choice is never explained).

Astoundingly, reports indicate that many students protested in favor of the flag-waiving ignorants, with one quoted as saying the confederate flag “had nothing to do with slavery.”

A spokesman for the school noted “the Confederate flag represents hatred, bigotry, intolerance, slavery, . . . .” In addition to all that, proud Americans note that the confederate flag also represents armed insurrection against our Constitution and all the freedoms many generations of men and women fought and died for. The confederate flag is offensive to most for all these reasons and any justification that it is a mere prop in a sophomoric prank is nonsense.

We know that students are not learning history very well. Perhaps an appropriate punishment for these and other would-be pranksters is remedial history as they need to learn what it stands for.