I know you may be as shocked as I am for titling a post in this manner. I need to first put in a VERY big caveat: I am pro-teacher. I come from a family of great teachers; however, teachers have been hamstrung for decades, and the digital revolution is only accelerating the crisis facing the teaching profession.
If you don't think that public education needs a major butt-kicking, then you haven't read this recent story about a Sacramento’s teacher of the year, Michelle Apperton, who just lost her job as result of budget cuts in her district. The school district had no choice but to let her go as a result of a policy dictating that teachers be laid off based on seniority, not according to performance.
I was mortified when I saw this story that CNN picked up. And folks like Diane Ravitch continue to cause great harm to the efforts to try and reform the system. Ms. Ravitch has only recently reiterated her stance that teacher evaluation using even a FRACTION of its criteria on quantitative measures does NOT outweigh experience. She still believes that seniority and tenure is good for the profession. When I read this, I ran to my punching bag.
Why in g-d's name would any organization fire their best talent? Now in the case of entertainment and sports, that is an exception, because sometimes talent lets their ego get in the way, or vice versa. We're talking major dollars here. That is not the case in public education, where even salaries are "scaled" very precisely. This is what I call the "death spiral" for any organization.
Public schools like Sacramento will hide behind the "budget cuts" explanation. However, they have let things deteriorate for years. If they had embraced new approaches decades ago, things may not have gotten this dire this quickly. In fact, I have to refer my readers to some analogies that resonate in this Harvard Business Review blog titled, "Why Newspapers Were Doomed All Along." There are some excellent lessons learned from this because some newspaper businesses diversified their risk and experimented with innovation decades ago. Public education should have done the same thing.
It pains me to see school districts fire their best teachers because folks like Diane Ravitch are pushing the unions to defend policies and positions that are outdated and misguided. Only when both sides sit down in a spirit of collaboration, will real solutions be found.
How many more Michelle Appertons are out there? I bet tens, maybe hundreds of thousands.