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Piling on

By Owen Paine on Saturday February 6, 2010 01:01 PM

Above is the man that out-Nixoned Nixon, Albert Shanker; and here is Shanker's latest avatar, Randi Weingarten:

According to a union barking device from captive think tank EPI, she wants:

"contracts that include systems for fair and balanced evaluation of teacher performance (including, but not limited to measures of student achievement); and for the speedy removal of ineffective teachers, with simplified due process rules, when appropriate support fails to correct inadequacy."
Very un-Shanker-sounding, eh? Well, get a load of why: this could add 20% more teachers to any staff. Note the words "appropriate support":
"Evaluation of teachers, including the mentoring of novices and of veterans in need of improvement, requires the employment of many additional supervisors of teachers. Call them master-or mentor-teachers... Schools today are under-administered. Frequently, one principal supervises as many as 30 teachers. No principal can evaluate and mentor this many... The reason we have such terrible "drive-by" teacher evaluation systems, with principals taking perfunctory peeks into classrooms, is that principals have no time (or training) to do it right.

No other profession operates with such inadequate supervision. Can you imagine a nursing supervisor overseeing 30 nurses? A newspaper editor overseeing 30 reporters? A law firm partner overseeing 30 associates? Even an assembly line can't rely on only one foreman for 30 workers."

Prepare yourself:
"Management theorists recommend that no leader should have more than 5 direct-reports. The failure of public education to organize itself around this common-sense principle is the roadblock to fair and balanced evaluation. "

"Blaming teacher unions for this failure is demagoguery...Administrations don't propose such systems mostly because they are very, very expensive."

Do we need another crankup in the teacher-to-victim ratio? A win for the union, yes. For the actual teachers, maybe not, and for the much abused pupils, almost certainly not.

Personally, I'm all for it, up through grade 6 anyway. Lower school teachers are hot --

... and I bet mentoring teachers are even hotter!

Comments (10)


op, have you been following the events in Europe involving the deficit countries Greece, Italy, Portugal etc.?

It's complete insanity. The EU is trying to push austerity programs on them, and doesn't want the IMF to step in. Their "recovery plan" is to force Greece's deficit down from 13% to 3% by 2012

the Portugese have said no way:

Portuguese govt defeated on austerity plan; Move may cause fears about eurozone debt to mount
"Portuguese opposition parties defeated a government austerity plan on Friday, passing their own bill that lets the country's regions rack up even more debt."

"Schools today are under-administered." OMFG! I'm used to unbearable crap from the collaborators who run this thing, but really -- OMFG! Makes me want to finally quit this shitbarge.

How the fuck does Bucky the Beaver here imagine, among other things, that the new stratum of administrators she wants to bring in to harass and fire our members won't be classified as management, hence further eroding union membership?


Everything in the society is so utterly ruined...


Before everyone goes flying off the handle there is some sense to this idea. It doesn't necessarily have to be a bunch of new pencil pushers occuping offices. Head nurses do nursing work, supervising doctors do medical work, senior attorneys do legal work. Teachers right now have to do a bunch of work outside the classroom and have to deal with numerous problems in the classroom, of which the principal is their only support.

Al Schumann:

I love flying off the handle! Seriously, though, there's an empty ring to any claim that increasing administrative capacity will free productive workers from drudgery and tasks not directly relevant to the job at hand. The major problem they face is inadequate compensation. Adding bodies to the administrative pool makes the organization top heavy, without adding to productivity, eats up resources and ultimately creates more uncompensated work.

The senior administrators fight over the added bodies and compete to justify holding onto them. The end result is something that looks like Microsoft, where feral managers feast on the flesh of the people they're supposed to serve.


fledermaus, my god, your idiocy makes me sick. So I'll ignore it.

What about your metaphors? "flying off the handle" -- there's a great turn of phrase from the babyboom bureaucrat. Like "pencil pusher," a pseudo-critique of the hierarchy that misses the point on purpose.

But I can't let this fly:

"Teachers right now have to do a bunch of work outside the classroom and have to deal with numerous problems in the classroom, of which the principal is their only support."

Let's forget about your prepositional confusion. The hierarchy is only here to help! That awful autonomy is eating you alive--the injustice! How about you let us handle it?


Hold up your hands, everyone who wants to be evaluated by persons with a touch more interest and/or skill in bureaucratic sword-play-butt-kiss, let's see those hands.

Michael D.:

Someday we have to go for a drink, so I can tell you all about my glorious, albeit brief career fetching water and the like for the local school admins a year or so back.

It was fantastically amazing. No, really. :/

Michael Hureaux:

So far as I'm concerned, the role of a principal is to understand the orientation of a program as designed by the people (teachers, aides, building staff) who are actually teaching and working with the young people who have been admitted to said program. This role involves largely staying the fuck out of the way, advocacy for what works and best serves the innovation and or maintenance of every layer of the education facility and a critical eye for what doesn't work. It doesn't have anything to do with Weingarten world, where increasingly the "evaluation" offered by crews of administrators are word -for -word phrases borrowed from state regulatory committees who know nothing about the communities we serve other than in the abstract.

At present where I work, we have a principal, a "co-principal", a vice principal, a dean of students, and an assistant dean of students. One would think that such an adminstrative staff would at least be able to curtail some of the lunacy that transpires during passing periods, but no such luck. I'm one of those teachers whose number of office referrel slips amounts to three or less every year, given the lack of real response to any ongoing problem, or indeed, the impossiblity of transforming the social chaos that works its way through the doors of this building every day. What I see with extra administration is another finger tapping on the back of my neck, very little else. Thank you, but no thanks, Randy. And how typical of your perspective, which I got a good look at in the UFT when i was teaching in New York City. Count me among those who "fly off the handle".

Ms. X, I'd love to gain a commie drinking buddy! Those aren't easy to find. mdawson ampersand pdx.edu

As to the AFuckingT, it makes me utterly, totally heartsick. The rank and file are remarkable and rebellious. The Stalinists squatting at the top are the worst and stupidest people on the planet. And, while re-electing themselves "at Convention," they fucking pay themselves like mofo-ing corporate VPs, too -- not least to ensure that only scumbags will do the elbowing it takes to join the Apparatus.

I swear to god, the FBI is still running this "labor" thing.

Fuck, fuck, fuck!


" Stalinists" atop Al Shanker's hay stack ?

my pink shell like ear shatters
at the mere thought

might we use a slightly less paradoxical label here md ??

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