Sunday, September 16, 2012

Shut-up Stupid Sunday: The war on Math

The Chicago Teachers Strike is in the news. Here's a few facts about it:

The teachers in Chicago were offered a 16% raise, 3% this year and 2% for each of the next three years. The math teachers said no. It's almost like math teachers know basic arithmetics.

But the primary reason for the strike is not over pay, it's over teacher protection. Some teachers feel that their job is to teach students the basic skills they need to survive in the world. That means some parents will object to their children being taught this. The unions protect them from being fired over doing their job. On the flip side some “bad” teachers manage to get protected as well.

I can remember a really “bad” teacher in my high school. He had been teaching there forever. He was a few years from retirement and was just punching the clock waiting it out. He picked up the chalk twice in the year I was in his class. That was just because a student teacher was in to observe. Oddly he really knew his stuff and how to explain it. He just wasn't motivated the rest of the year.

Okay, lets consider him a “bad” teacher. All he did was babysit us. So he should be paid what a babysitter makes, right?

A babysitter charges $5 an hour to babysit a kid. $5 an hour times 40 students is $200. Times that by 6 hours a day is $1,200. Teachers work around 180 days a year. So this “bad” teacher is worth about $216,000 a year for being a babysitter.

So it is horrible that the unions protect these “bad” teachers and allow them to make $71,000 a year when they are only worth $216,000 a year!

The most important thing that the Chicago teachers are striking over is the standardized tests to “measure” teacher performance. I wrote about standardized tests and rote learning two and a half years ago. 

What standardized test do is encourage the “bad” teachers to teach the easy way through rote learning, the process of having someone repeat something over and over again so they can spit out the answer with knowing the concepts behind it. It also punishes the “good” teachers, who actually care about making sure their students learn the subjects they are teaching.

The Chicago teachers strike shows the dedication of teachers. What they are asking for is to be able to do their jobs. They don't want to have their students grow-up to think 9.8% is 16% or that $71,000 is greater than $216,000. Unfortunately they are butting heads with people who not only don't understand the concepts behind what they were taught, but are determined to impose that way of thinking on the next generation.

So to everyone who is against letting the Chicago teachers actually do their jobs, I say, “Shut-up Stupid, just because you've learned things the wrong way doesn't give you the right to enforce that on the next generation.”

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

1 comment:

Stephanie Barr said...

We are doing all the wrong things in education.

Pity, because it's so important.

If we, as a nation, really cared about being "great" for the long haul, we would address education like we mean it.