Wednesday, February 4, 2009

This Week's Bottom Feeder

The winner of the first Bottom of the Class award goes to Marcus Winters of the Manhattan Institute. I had no idea what the Manhattan Institute was--it sounded vaguely like an atomic bomb project. It turns out that they are a think tank (translation: can't get a real job?). Well, someone must have cut off the oxygen to Mr. Winters particular tank. How else to explain his inane editorial in the Daily News advocating the layoffs of senior teachers?

Ignoring the obvious question as to what sort of think tank wants its work published in the Daily News, for crying out loud, let's examine Mr. Winters' argument. He posits that the city should lay off the most senior teachers because "...there is basically no relationship between seniority and teaching ability." Using his think tank skills, Mr. Winters deftly offers no evidence of this whatsoever, choosing instead the ad populum argument that the body of evidence of this is "scarcely disputed". As a parent, I can tell you that I would opt for teaching experience over a respondent to a subway ad for Teaching Fellows any day. As a teacher, I can assert that it takes at least five years before a teacher becomes reasonably competent--i.e., he or she knows the business and has enough experience to be an effective educator.

A particularly brain dead assertion by Mr. Winters is that "After several years in the classroom, teachers can earn much higher salaries, even surpassing $100,000." I can tell Mr. W, without equivocation, that there is not one--not ONE--teacher who makes anywhere near 100K after a few years in the classroom. And unlike Mr. W, I hereby offer my proof--the salary schedule in the UFT contract. In order to earn 100K, NYC teachers must not only have a master's degree and thirty credits beyond that, we must put in 22 years of service. And then you pass the 100K mark by a whopping $49.00.

One of the most glaring of Mr. Winters lapses in logic is that the school system would continue to attract qualified teachers if the seniority layoff provision were done away with. Who would want to make teaching a career knowing that their jobs would be in peril every time there was an economic downturn? Does he believe, like other non-educators such as Joel Klein, that we can attract talented people by offering them less money than surrounding districts, higher class sizes, and no job security?

Mr. Winters also worries about losing new, potentially effective teachers, without giving a thought to losing experienced, proven effective teachers.

So, we offer a hearty Bronx cheer to Mr. Winters, which is more than he can do until someone stops pumping the oxygen from his think tank.


Ms. Tsouris said...

I saw that "article" too. The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research's motto is "Turning Intellect into Influence". I find it ever so ironic that this is so much what an effective teacher does. Its mission statement: "The Mission of the Manhattan Institute is to develop and disseminate new ideas that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility." Marcus Winters, who sounds like an abject moron, is just another anti union corporate fascist and a prime example of what is so wrong with media outlets like the Daily News and with what used to be "journalism" in general. I love your blog, Accountable!! You are insightful and have made me laugh more than once.

Mr. Talk said...

Thanks, Ms., I appreciate the kind words. My goal is to be more entertaining than morose. Let me know if I stray too far off the mark!