The paradox of courage is that a man must be a little careless of his life in order to keep it.
- G. K. Chesterton, English Novelist and Essayist (1874-1936)
Interesting article from Eugene Robinson . . .
The fact is that teachers are being saddled with absurdly high expectations. Some studies have shown a correlation between student performance and teacher “effectiveness,” depending how this elusive quality is measured. But there is a whole body of academic literature proving the stronger correlation between student performance and a much more important variable: family income.
Yes, I’m talking about poverty. Sorry to be so gauche, but when teachers point out the relationship between income and achievement, they’re not shirking responsibility. They’re just stating an inconvenient truth.
When 40% of Chicago students end up dropping-out, there’s no denying that our schools are failing – miserably. But Mr. Robinson is right in arguing that the larger contributing factor in our failed schools is not apathy or incompetence among inner-city teachers – I’m sure there’s a roughly equal share of good teachers and bad teachers in rich neighborhood and poor neighborhoods – but where he misses the mark a bit is in ascribing it directly to poverty. The more direct cause is not poverty itself but the breakdown in those neighborhoods of the culture and in parental responsibility.
Show me a first generation immigrant family in abject poverty where both parents take an active roll in their kids lives and stress that education is their ticket out of the slums and into the American dream and I’ll show you students that will score just as high on their SATs as any kids from the rich neighborhoods.
So Mr. Robinson has a point that the failures in our inner-city school can be pinned on the socio-economic environment far more than any failures on our teachers part, but in “standing up for teachers” in what he perceives as a scapegoating of teachers, what he’s really missing is that the growing outrage among the public against the unions, and fun facts like this:
Chicago medan household income $46,350
Average Chicago teacher salary: $76,ooo
In the private sector today, most are just happy to keep a job even while seeing their incomes fall. ((Median family income in America has fallen from $54,983 when Obama took office to $50,964 this year.)
The reality of the striking teachers of Chicago?
Chicago teachers — who already are among the nation’s highest paid with salaries that average $76,000 — ought to appreciate the city’s offer of raises that average out to 4.4 percent annually over four years. Clearly, though, the main sticking points are not economic but rather the common-sense reforms sought by Mr. Emanuel — more instruction time, empowering principals to hire the best teachers and evaluating teachers by how their students achieve.
While working parents deal with the nightmare of scrambling to find a safe environment for their kids while they try to go out and earn a living, the unions would have us believe that teachers making $30,000 than the majority of their fellow Chicagoans and being held accountable for their performance is a noble fight we should all get behind.
Considering those numbers though, I doubt too many regular citizens are feeling like standing up for the striking teachers of Chicago.