How to handle the teachers

Has anyone wondered why teachers, when they threaten strike action, never schedule it for the school holidays?

I have. Especially when the bleat about hard they work, and how holidays aren’t actually holidays, and how hard they actually work in the holidays. (I can’t believe a principal is so stupid to put this on a school blog, but there you have it)

As students leave for their two weeks holiday I hear teachers making plans with their teams for meetings for planning and assessment during the two week break and I wish all those people who say teachers have so many holidays could see the reality.

You would think just once in their miserable lives they would schedule strike action for the holidays wouldn’t you? But no, I guess that tells us exactly what holidays really are to teachers, same as for everyone else, holidays.

Anyway I digress. Teachers are actually miners who dress up sort of nice, they should be treated as such when the go about working at the “chalk face” and other such nonsense.

However it seems to me that Anne Tolley needs a little help. First up she needs to take some lessons from Merv Wellington. He knew how to treat bleating highly unionised whinging teachers. He ignored them.

The second thing that Anne Tolley can do is follow the play book of Chris Christie, the governer of New Jersey. He is sorting out the teachers unions in New Jersey.

OLD BRIDGE, N.J. (CBS 2) — Determined to turn New Jersey’s education system on its head, Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday unveiled a tough-love reform package that will make classroom achievement — not seniority or tenure — the basis for pay hikes and career advancement in Garden State public schools.

Christie is turning his take-no-prisoner’s style to the classroom, demanding a top to bottom overhaul of how New Jersey students learn and teachers teach. And that means undoing tenure, seniority and other union work rules.

“We cannot wait. Your children are sitting in these classrooms today. We cannot wait to make it better,” Christie told CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer.

Uh huh….seems they have the same problems in New Jersey as we have here. But wait it gets better.

Unqualified teachers will feel the lash. The governor is demanding that teachers in kindergarten through fifth grade actually pass tests in reading and math in order to be certified.

“It might lead to the firing of lousy teachers and bad principals who hurt our children,” Christie said.

The governor wants to turn the old seniority system inside out and put quality teaching ahead of lack-luster performance. He will:

* Prohibit salary scales based on seniority

* Grant raises based on classroom performance

* Give tenure based on classroom performance

“We are paying a fortune for something that is not giving our children the hope and the faith and the trust that their tomorrow can be better than their today,” Christie said.

The governor said he would appoint a task force to come up with standards to measure teacher achievement.

Educational experts applauded the governor’s actions.

Bwahahaha, making teachers actually sit tests. Brilliant!

Og course the teacher unions are a mite upset.

A spokesman for the New Jersey Education Association attacked the governor’s plan saying that once again he was “trying to implement education reform without any input from educators.”

They’ve had their chance for input, same as the teachers here. the results are before us of 50 years if their input into the education sector. Time to do something different.

So long as the teachers unions and Teachers Council advocate to protect the most useless teacher and hide the names of criminal teachers, including those convicted of sex crimes, I will campaign against them.


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  • Teachers don’t strike on school holidays for the same reason that the watersider always used to strike ON school holidays. It’s no paper protest – it’s intended to cause disruption! And they call themselves professionals. Pah.

    I recall the early 80’s when I was at secondary school in Whellington – the ‘schoolyard chant’ – ‘Mervyn’s a gumboot!’ I now wonder how much that was our beliefs as students, and how much we had been manipulated by the establishment….

    Yeah, cool! Bring back the lash! They whipped us, the bastards (though I never got one myself), but bring back lashing, tie it to performance standards, and punish the underperforming and misbehaving teachers in exactly the same way that the teachers have punished underperforming and misbehaving students for decades!

  • jaghut

    I’m a fairly recent product of the teachers that have been striking.
    The thing that I most agree with here is the idea of salary directly tied to performance, and the teacher’s contribution to the school community.
    There is a vast difference between teachers who go above and beyond the call of duty, dilligently helping students to succeed, donating (unpaid) time to coaching sports teams etc and organising school productions… and the other side, teachers who show up late, with poorly prepared lessons, and who lack basic grammar and spelling skills.
    Sadly, in my experience the latter is the majority.

    • grizz

      You forgot turning up hungover

  • orange

    How is anyone expecting to performance grade teachers for pay when they can’t even performance grade students? NCEA doesn’t allow for ranking and comparing students effectively precisely because some nimwit decided it was not politically correct to tell them they had failed or maybe that they had 15% vs their neighbours 17%. Record numbers moving to Aussie, do you think the best qualified ones are the ones staying? And why not?

    Everyone knows its not about “pay”, its about working conditions. But sure, keep blaming the teachers while students throw chairs through the windows and spend every day drinking and getting high before coming to school from a broken home.

    • Blondie

      Tssk tssk. Generalisations much, hmmmm?

      For the record, pretty much all of my daughter’s school friends come from broken homes. And, uh, she goes to a decile 10 school which was reported as being the most expensive state school in the country.

      So, quit with the generalisations about divorcees eh? There’re just as many broken homes in Remmers and Parnell as there are in South Auckland.

      • Blondie

        And within that same school, we’ve had extremely different experiences with different teachers.

        Under one teacher, she learnt pretty much nothing; in fact, I’m sure she went backwards. I was spending hours every night trying to go over her maths and reading with her, because her teacher wasn’t teaching her a damn thing. My daughter was convinced she was stupid; not least because her teacher told her so.

        The next year, she jumped from the 25th percentile (ie, 75% of kids her age were achieving higher than her) to the 65th percentile – in less than 4 months. (I’m presuming I have the terminology the right way around). Why? Because she had a decent teacher who actually gave a shit; who didn’t just turn up to collect her pay packet; who didn’t talk down to her but treated her with a bit of kindness and would help her if she had a question.

        Nothing else changed. Still the same kid; still the same parent at home. But suddenly she was learning….. so maybe teachers should be held accountable for their student’s performance? After all, that’s what they’re PAID for!

  • lance

    I agree with performance testing of teachers in principle but I believe it is a lot more complicated than people are making out. For example who do you think would fare better in a performance based assessment of students against National Standards? A teacher at a decile 10 school with a class full of kids ready to learn, stacks of resources and parents who are involved and helping their kids and who place value on education? Or a decile 1 teacher with kids who are violent, have behavioural problems, absent parents, truant?

    Which teacher has the more difficult job? Whose students are going to flourish?

    It’s a pretty tricky one.

    • grizz

      You make a good statement here Lance and I feel it is worth discussing how to grade performance. From my point of view, a gross score of students should not be a criteria for for performance on its own. Performance should be relative to the progression of your students from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. If you come off a low base, this should be taken into account.

      I also feel that if student performance is low and progression remains poor relative to similar deciles, then this should help the school system to direct more resources and additional training for staff. Assessing performance should also include a programme to improve performance.

  • adze

    Striking is one thing but one thing that some teachers do that really fucks me off is to drag the kids into it – getting them to “express their opposition” to the issue (always consistent with the teacher’s own position, naturally). I remember in a Form 1 class near New Plymouth the teacher got us to draw anti-‘gas to gasoline’ plant posters (which was to be constructed the following year). Later the same year, the same teacher got her students to sign a petition for the same purpose.

  • thor42

    Surely the teachers must be one of the last groups of people in the country who do not have performance-based pay.
    It’s time that it was brought in. I fully agree with that Chris Christie guy in New Jersey – very best of luck to him!

    As for the children who “play up” in school, some action can be taken there as well. Put the heat back on parents for their misbehaving brats. Get tough (and I mean really tough). Fine them (or suspend or cancel their benefit) if their child misbehaves. All it takes is a government with balls to introduce such measures.

  • moolooman

    First time contributing. Believed the mass media when they said Whale Oil was an idiot. Visited the site and found out that I was in fact the idiot for not checking it out earlier without judging. Fine site, and insightful insights.

    Was a teacher for two years in Auckland. I personally think that teachers get paid enough. I would be concerned about the conditions being pared back anymore however.

    @Thor42 – I suspect years ago when I hadn`t had the opportunity to see how thing really worked raved on like yourself and suggested the suspension and cancelling of benefits
    So many of these kids are on a proverbial hiding to nothing to start with, and as soon as you start tinkering with the benefits of those who are unsuitable to be parents from the get go, you start making the kids life unbearable. Not saying you are wrong, just pointing out the facts that I have learnt at the coalface.