Education Letter to the Editor

Political Agendas Slam Experienced Teachers

May 17, 2011 1 min read

To the Editor:

In Angela Beeley’s “ ‘Mad as Hell’ ” piece (April 27, 2011), she makes the point that because of the demonization of public school teachers, “no one in his or her right mind would go into this profession.” This depiction of lazy, money-grubbing teachers is particularly reserved for teachers who have been in the profession for a number of years. In fact, there has been continual growth in the numbers of individuals who temporarily enter teaching through programs with two-year commitments. Media coverage and government money often flows to these programs that seek to recruit the “brightest and best,” promising their recruits more prestigious careers in finance or government in the future.

Instead of applauding the teacher effectiveness that accompanies experience in the classroom, political agendas have sought to criticize it and have focused on the flawed and martyred messages of these short-term programs: Sacrifice two years to teach in failing public schools because the “lazy cats” are ineffective, and because you are brighter and more hard-working than they are. In effect, the message being sent is that “no one in his or her right mind would go into this profession” as a career or anything longer than a temporary stint.

We need to draw these parallels between the dual messages of lazy tenured teachers and two-year teaching-program recruits. The implication being drawn is to replace our tenured teachers with a revolving door of these less experienced individuals, typically straight out of undergraduate school and with no teaching experience. These two messages feed off each other, driving the same political agenda.

Students in urban schools need the best teachers, and countless bodies of research have proven that the best teacher is one who has years of experience to make him or her effective, and who, despite political pressure or promises of more prestigious work, does not give up on students’ success.

Jennifer McNally

Middle School Social Studies Teacher

Boston Public Schools

Boston, Mass.

A version of this article appeared in the May 18, 2011 edition of Education Week as Political Agendas Slam Experienced Teachers