Curmudgucation Calls BS (as usual)

Peter Greene, who blogs at Curmudgucation, does a great job of calling BS on the Minnesota anti-tenure lawsuit. His comments apply not only to this particular suit, of course, but to the whole world of education reform.

He starts with the main contention being made by the plaintiffs:

“These laws have the effect of poorly performing, ineffective teachers staying in the classroom for years on end,” said Jesse Stewart, a lawyer who will be arguing the case on behalf of the plaintiffs. “You have teachers who are demonstrably ineffective teaching students who need the best that’s out there,” Mr. Stewart added.

This is a lie. If a teacher were “demonstrably ineffective,” they would be demonstrably fire-able. For the umpty-gazzillionth time– tenure does not protect demonstrably incompetent teachers from getting fired. … Let me quote myself– behind every teacher who shouldn’t have a job is an administrator who isn’t doing his.

He then calls out the standard ed-deformer confusion about the difference between correlation and causation:

But the plaintiffs don’t actually mean “demonstrably ineffective.” What they mean is “standing in the classroom with a bunch of poor kids.”

In one example cited in the legal complaint, teachers at a school in Minneapolis where nearly all the students identify as minorities and are eligible to receive free or reduced price lunches had the lowest average performance ratings in the district.

Well, yes. Of course they did. We already know that poverty levels are excellent predictors of test scores. Take a classroom with no roof. When it rains, all the students in the room get wet, and so the teacher gets wet too. If you fire that teacher and go get a dry one, the students will still get wet when it rains– and so will every replacement teacher you ever put in there. Claiming that a really good teacher would keep everyone dry is baloney.

And then we get to the REAL motivation for this case:

Tiffini Flynn Forslund, one of the named plaintiffs and the mother of a 17-year-old high school junior in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, said her older daughter’s beloved fifth-grade teacher was laid off during budget cuts because he had less seniority than other teachers in the school.

Here’s is how I know that nobody filing this suit actually gives a rat’s ass about teacher quality– if they did, they would also be aggressively addressing the issue of budget cuts.

Tiffini should not have had to lose her beloved fifth grade teacher (six years ago– one wonders why the family waited till now to act). But neither should some other student in Tiffini’s school.

The fact that these “advocates” and their twitter cheer squad are troubled by the cutting of Tiffini’s teacher, but not at all troubled by the slashing of Tiffini’s budget or the reduction Tiffini’s teaching staff or the loss of Tiffini’s resources tells me that they are far more interested in attacking teacher tenure and job protections than they are concerned about Tiffini.

Read the whole post here 



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