And in other news …

News dump time.

– Should public school teachers have tenure? This story in the St. Petersburg Times points out how hard it is to fire a horrible teacher. What interests me about this story? Evolution, of course.

When teachers earned workplace protections in the early 20th century, tenure was intended as a shield against overbearing parents and heavy-handed school boards.

Supporters say the need remains. Just imagine, they say, what could happen to tenure-less science teachers in stretches of Florida where evolution is ridiculed.

But critics say tenure’s shield is too often extended to teachers who don’t deserve it.

– Budget slashing is hitting everyone hard. Science class field trips are no exception.

“It’s sad,” she said. “I just had a child tell me, ‘Mrs. Franta, this is a glorious day.’ This kind of experience can affect students the rest of their lives. It makes them aware of their environment. It makes them want to care for it.”

– A 14-year-old student laments the loss of the gifted science class in a good letter to the editor.

I am an eighth-grade student at Gifford Middle School. I am currently enrolled in the gifted program and have recently been informed of the school district’s intention to discontinue the gifted subject of science.

I was very distraught when I received this news, having seen my science teacher, Jennie Flynt, cry over the emotional weight that this carried.

– A high school junior wants to know what is up with the science FCAT. Her peers just “Christmas treed” it.

When our administrators told us that the science portion of the FCAT only counted to grade our school, several students decided they weren’t going to bother showing up. Several more did show up but only because their parents required them; however, they in no way took the test seriously but instead “Christmas treed” it.

– Phil Plait does a good summary of the Texas science standards situation. And the Texas Freedom Network covers the situation from all angles. And here is a story at Salon. Feel free to add more informative links in the comments.

One Response to “And in other news …”

  1. MaryB Says:

    While tenure sometimes protects a teacher who does not deserve it you also see the unions moving to make sure that bad apples can be removed. I consider this broad statement about “bad teachers” anti union propaganda. First of all why are we only worried about bad teachers? A school is profoundly affected by a bad administrator and you never hear a peep about that problem. Nor does anyone wring their hands over any other professional group where “bad” doctors or lawyers or judges or politicians or wall street CEOs are allowed to reek havoc! I know at least one excellent teacher who is a union rep who filed a legit grievance against an administrator who would have lost her job without tenure. As it was, she was harassed for several years for doing her job and protecting our workplace. The system is so top down already and taking tenure away will take a teachers voice away about what is happening to the kids in their classroom and to the schools they care about. And believe me when I say that the people who care the most are generally the teachers. I’m one of those tachers with tenure and a voice and I do speak out and it has made a difference to students several times just this year. The younger teachers who are still on probation generally keep their mouths shut. We would all have to shut up without tenure.
    The other thing to look at is statistics and you will find that unionized school and high test scores do go together. Of course if you do away with teacher unions then you can do away with health care and pensions for school employees and there will be more money for those CEO bonuses!