Sunday, December 28, 2014

Veteran teachers bring value

           A dear friend of mine was invited to apply for a job assisting schools throughout our state by creating training, pulling together task forces in the school community and helping teachers access the portal this company created.  She was imminently qualified.  She has over a decade of experience in the classroom and a Masters in Education.  Despite being requested to apply  she received a snippy email from the HR department of this company pointing out that she was just a teacher.  My friend chose not to follow up to defend her qualification because she is happy in her current position.
            Last week an article was posted on twitter questioning the education and training of all teachers. This was surprising to me.  All of the professional teachers in our state have bachelors degrees, many have advanced degrees.  The percentage of people in our state with advanced degrees is in the teens, mostly comprised of doctors, lawyers and academics (teachers).  No information was given about the person who wrote the article, other than charter apologist.  I know there is an 80 percent chance or greater that he has no education beyond high school and that his article is pushing the agenda to dismantle our public school systems.  He is encouraging his audience to accept a myth which also seems to be held by some HR departments and school reform leaders.  Let's bust this myth.
         Public school teachers are highly educated, competent and remarkable. All have college degrees many with masters or greater. They can monitor several people at one time, sometimes as many as thirty.  They must remember multiple special ed records, medical information, pedagogical learnings and government policies.  In order to function in a classroom long-term all of this information must be synthesized into a complex understanding.  This synthesis entails abstract thinking.  That's not a common skill set but it is a coveted one in business.
        The skills of the professional teaching core are a well kept secret. Veteran teachers are a treasure to any organization lucky enough to employ them.  They are the ultimate generalists but they are exceptionally competent in work.  They understand how to learn and can pick up new skill sets quickly.  If treated decently they are loyal so training dollars go further with these employees.  They can organize and lead teams, plan complex events and design and maintain schedules.  Those that have worked in Title I schools are likely to have book keeping and supply training.  Many veteran educators have trained groups of adults as well as students. Teachers show up on time to work and actually work giving value back to their employer.
         Educators are workhorses and planners.  These skills are mandatory to survive in the classroom.  They organize people to accomplish tasks that can take months of planning.  Festivals, carnivals, and other community/school events require a team of people working together and planning so these events can run seamlessly. A group of teachers work together to organize these events. Cooperation and teamwork become survival skills as teachers work together to help students overcome disabilities, learning disorders and the ravages of poverty. 
           Professional teachers are heartbroken over the changes occurring in public education.  Some are seeking employment in other fields.  Great teachers have lost their positions due to lack of due process protection and many have opted for early retirement. Changes in policy and changes in status are creating a talent drain from schools. Employers who tap this valuable resource will greatly benefit.

If you think of skills I may have overlooked or if you would like to hire a veteran teacher please contact us.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Is Privatization of Educational Records a Good Idea?

         You may have already heard about about the bankruptcy sale of ConnectEDU. This company has collected and owns millions of student records.  Despite the promise of privacy, these records are being sold along with the other assets. ConnectEDU served students as young as 10 years old.   Ed week has an excellent article.  I have posted the link to it at the bottom of this page.
           The internet allows contact with people we might never meet in a non-connected classroom.  Sometimes this is wonderful.  We can bring other teachers, authors, experts and students from all over the globe into our learning environments.  There have been many times I have taken advantage of these opportunities for my students. With technology we can also give instant feedback on quizzes and assignments.  There are many benefits to best practices use of technology in the classroom.
            With that being said, there are pitfalls we haven't even discovered yet.  There are loop-holes companies can utilize our lawmakers have not yet addressed.  The judge in the ConnectEDU case attempted to protect the young students whose records were being held.  He stated that the company had to either: select an ombudsman to oversee the handling of records or alert the clients so they could opt to have the records destroyed.  The attorney told the judge there were no employees left to manage this situation.  The company was broken up and sold to various vendors along with sensitive student data.    The records were not held as a trade secret as ConnectEDU stated and they were not kept private as promised. As far as I can tell the judge does not have power to drive the management of this data by the purchasing companies.It gets worse.
             This company used teachers, administrators and other school officials to collect this information.  They used the trust our students placed in us to then turn around and betray them. The information collected was much more in depth than an email address or names.  In some cases this company had access to standardized test scores, grades and information related to physical or intellectual disabilities.  If  a school system purchased ConnectEDU's services they would have trained their employees in the use of this product and expected them to use it in the classroom.  Many wouldn't give a second thought to sharing their info with the school system approved vendor.  I am sitting here shaking my head and I'm so glad my system does not, to my knowledge, use this service.  This is a train wreck.
             Our students and their information must be protected. This will happen again.  If protections aren't put in place this generation of children will be harmed. As members of a school system we need to become savvy about information we tell our students to share.  As members of a governmental system we need to press for emergency legislation to force the hard deletion of all student records created while students were under the age of majority. We might also legislate the student records created prior to the age of majority with private companies can only be owned by the students.  As parents we need to talk to our kids about the digital footprints they create and safe practices related to internet use.
          Lets start some conversations in our community so we can create a hedge around our young people. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Introductions Updated

Hello and welcome to our blog spot.
            I am your host, the Teacher   I began my career in 1998.  I have watched many changes in education, society and family culture since then.  I am starting this blog as a place for people to share their experiences, wisdom, and interests related to improving society, helping families and children and saving free public education for future generations.  The writings in this blog are written by teachers and others from all over the country.  Some may choose to identify themselves and some may not.  Please site this blog if you quote us in other work.
           Education is a basic human right and our definitions are being steered away from positive outcomes for students in our classrooms.  This forum provides a place to engage in the public debate related to education and family policy.  If you have written something you feel matches the scope of this blog and you would like a space to publish it, please contact us.

Edit:Our audience has expanded beyond the boarders of the United States.  We are thrilled to have visits from readers outside of the country.  We would welcome you as a guest blogger if you would like to share your experiences in education or other related topics.