Dragon Eagle wrote:Smurfette, I'm really interested to hear your take on school choice/school vouchers. I own my own eikaiwa, I compete for students. I have to give them what they want or suffer the consequences. I am confident enough in my teaching ability that I am willing to compete with other teachers of English for students, I know I can do as well or better than them. I think that there are some (not all) public school teachers who fear this kind of system because they will be exposed as poor teachers.
Okay, let's get this straight. If your students don't get what they want
, they either find a new hobby or they find a new eikaiwa...yes, you
suffer monetary consequences, but their
life goes on. If I don't give my students what they need
, I am sending them to the next grade level unprepared to learn skills that they
will need to make a living. To an avid reader of Capitalism Magazine
, yes, the monetary consequence may seem worse. However, to most people who voluntarily enter the teaching field, losing a child is a horrible feeling, the worst consequence, and it has nothing to do with money. (Feeling insulted, I had originally typed a more scathing response, but I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt that by "some," you mean something more like "a limited number.") Comparing eikaiwa to public school teaching is like comparing apples to oranges, unless you have eikaiwa students who are homeless because their moms are fucking smack addicts, but they don't see mom because she pawns them off on whatever relative is around at the time her boyfriend comes to take her out, which apparently is all the time, so they have all this anger towards their mother and have to take it out on the next best thing to a mother, a mother figure...their teacher. No, I didn't have many of those, either, when I taught in Japan.
It's also a bit naive to think that the teachers in the under-performing schools are simply poor teachers. I work in a under-performing school. In my building, we have grades 1-5, 11 regular-ed classroom teachers in all. Four of us are first-year teachers. Five are second-year teachers. That's right, there are only two veteran teachers (one being a "veteran" at 4 years, the other a bona fide veteran of 20+). All of the first and second year teachers are here through programs where we teach as we get our Master's Degree or other teaching qualifications (Teach for America doesn't work towards a Master's, AFAIK.) Are we put in these schools because HR took one look at us and deemed us "poor teachers," or are we there because the more experienced teachers are out at the better schools? The kids most in need of quality instruction, because they come to school least prepared and get little education at home are getting the least experienced teachers, who must not only cope with finding their teaching groove, but dealing with behaviors that you would not believe. We have to create some incentives for getting veteran teachers in classrooms where they are most needed.
One reason that a lot of teachers in under-performing schools are against the voucher program is that they are going to get labeled as "poor teachers" if their kids, who come into school woefully unprepared (when compared to students in other schools), don't score as well on some standardized test as students in more affluent schools, where teachers have loads of resources and human support in teaching students who started out way ahead. Another is that any teacher, first-year or not, is going to be more reluctant to work in an under-performing school if it means that they will be ruining their future career prospects. This means that the kids who are getting the least experienced teachers now will be lucky to have any teachers in the future.
That said, I wouldn't say that I'm against the whole voucher issue, but I'm not for it either. I want to see how it works out in the districts where they are using it first, and if it is done, it has to be done right. If you are into education issues, I would suggest this site over Capitalism Magazine: http://www.edweek.org/context/topics/issuespage.cfm?id=43
. Its focus is more on education and less on ideology.
Jeez, I'm not finished, but I gotta go.