Thursday, October 6, 2011

Point / Counter Point - " What if the NFL Played by Teachers' Rules? "

In the past, I have posted some info on the problems with our education system. We spend more per student than most any other country and we still wind up with students who rank 25th in the world, falling behind countries like Poland and Luxembourg.

Why aren't US Students the best ??

The education system has changed radically since my generation was educated and not for the better. There has been too much effort devoted to "social education ' and not enough to the basics that every child needs to be able to think and reason. The largest Unions in our country are Teacher's Unions and they are like any other Union, only devoted to preserving " The Union " and not very interested in the welfare or education of our students, regardless of what they state.

I could go on for a bit but I felt it best to host a POINT / COUNTER POINT debate.

Frank Tarketon wrote the first piece as an OPED in the Wall Street Journal. He is a a NFL Hall of Fame quarterback with the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Giants from 1961 to 1978, is an entrepreneur who runs two websites devoted to small business education.

The response comes from James Marshall Crotty, a FORBES magazine contributor who specializes in educational issues. Take a read and decide for yourself.

All I know is what we are doing presently is NOT working and to feel that to continue to throw more money at the issue is NOT solving anything. There has to be accountability for the failure to achieve the results desired. The big question is HOW do we achieve it??

What if the NFL Played by Teachers' Rules?
Imagine a league where players who make it through three seasons could never be cut from the roster

By FRAN TARKENTON - OPINION / Wall Street Journal

Imagine the National Football League in an alternate reality. Each player's salary is based on how long he's been in the league. It's about tenure, not talent. The same scale is used for every player, no matter whether he's an All-Pro quarterback or the last man on the roster. For every year a player's been in this NFL, he gets a bump in pay. The only difference between Tom Brady and the worst player in the league is a few years of step increases. And if a player makes it through his third season, he can never be cut from the roster until he chooses to retire, except in the most extreme cases of misconduct.

Let's face the truth about this alternate reality: The on-field product would steadily decline. Why bother playing harder or better and risk getting hurt?

No matter how much money was poured into the league, it wouldn't get better. In fact, in many ways the disincentive to play harder or to try to stand out would be even stronger with more money.

Of course, a few wild-eyed reformers might suggest the whole system was broken and needed revamping to reward better results, but the players union would refuse to budge and then demonize the reform advocates: "They hate football. They hate the players. They hate the fans." The only thing that might get done would be building bigger, more expensive stadiums and installing more state-of-the-art technology. But that just wouldn't help.

If you haven't figured it out yet, the NFL in this alternate reality is the real -life American public education system. Teachers' salaries have no relation to whether teachers are actually good at their job—excellence isn't rewarded, and neither is extra effort. Pay is almost solely determined by how many years they've been teaching. That's it. After a teacher earns tenure, which is often essentially automatic, firing him or her becomes almost impossible, no matter how bad the performance might be. And if you criticize the system, you're demonized for hating teachers and not believing in our nation's children.

Inflation-adjusted spending per student in the United States has nearly tripled since 1970. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, we spend more per student than any nation except Switzerland, with only middling results to show for it.

Over the past 20 years, we've been told that a big part of the problem is crumbling schools—that with new buildings and computers in every classroom, everything would improve. But even though spending on facilities and equipment has more than doubled since 1989 (again adjusted for inflation), we're still not seeing results, and officials assume the answer is that we haven't spent enough.

These same misguided beliefs are front and center in President Obama's jobs plan, which includes billions for "public school modernization." The popular definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. We've been spending billions of dollars on school modernization for decades, and I suspect we could keep on doing it until the end of the world, without much in the way of academic results. The only beneficiaries are the teachers unions.

Some reformers, including Bill Gates, are finally catching on that our federally centralized, union-created system provides no incentive for better performance. If anything, it penalizes those who work hard because they spend time, energy and their own money to help students, only to get the same check each month as the worst teacher in the district (or an even smaller one, if that teacher has been there longer). Is it any surprise, then, that so many good teachers burn out or become disenchanted?

Perhaps no other sector of American society so demonstrates the failure of government spending and interference. We've destroyed individual initiative, individual innovation and personal achievement, and marginalized anyone willing to point it out. As one of my coaches used to say, "You don't get vast results with half-vast efforts!"

The results we're looking for are students learning, so we need to reward great teachers who show they can make that happen—and get rid of bad teachers who don't get the job done. It's what we do in every other profession: If you're good, you get rewarded, and if you're not, then you look for other work. It's fine to look for ways to improve the measuring tools, but don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Our rigid, top-down, union-dictated system isn't working. If results are the objective, then we need to loosen the reins, giving teachers the ability to fulfill their responsibilities to students to the best of their abilities, not to the letter of the union contract and federal standards.

Mr. Tarkenton, a NFL Hall of Fame quarterback with the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Giants from 1961 to 1978, is an entrepreneur who runs two websites devoted to small business education

What if the NFL Played by Teachers' Rules?
James Marshall Crotty - Forbes Contibutor

And you thought Hall of Fame NFL quarterback Fran Tarkenton could just scramble away from would-be tacklers. Turns out that “The Mad Scrambler” is a mad scribbler too. In an October 3 editorial in the Wall Street Journal, the former Vikings and Giants star, and successful serial entrepreneur, persuasively and succinctly argues for an NFL-style teacher retention and reward system based on in-classroom performance.

Surely, he must realize that several million teachers are fans of professional football. In fact, several high school teachers I’ve known coach high school football. I don’t think “Frantic Fran” is going to get many invitations to speak at teacher’s union banquets anytime soon.

Yet, precisely because of the studied resistance he will get, Tarkenton is showing the same courage post-football that he clearly demonstrated in his storied gridiron career. The question I have for all of you is whether Mr. Tarkenton’s analogy holds. Should teachers be treated like professional football players, whose salaries, job security, and other perks are determined almost exclusively based on individual performance metrics, regardless of the quality of their management, stadiums, equipment, coaching, practice facility, the quality and ambition of their fellow players, their level of fan support, age, health, competition, weather, whether they primarily play indoors or outdoors, or sundry other factors that might empirically affect their performance?

What’s more, how do we ascertain the quality of a teacher? Are there pedagogical equivalents for football’s tackles, sacks, pancake blocks, rushing yards, passing yards, completions, catches, and touchdowns, let alone wins and losses? I know such a metric would make picking and choosing teachers a lot simpler, but is there something ineffable in the teaching and learning process that resists such easy statistical measurement? Especially when teaching success seems to depend so mightily on the quality and drive of the student material one is given?

I totally agree with Mr. Tarkenton that the billions that Mr. Obama plans to spend on “public school modernization” is akin to dressing up the ballroom on the RMS Titanic. It will not appreciably move the needle on student learning. And I also agree, as an inner city educator who had to invest his own resources in providing basic services and supplies to a debate team I coached, that teachers are not properly rewarded for such outsized initiative (Mr. Tarkenton, if you want to throw financial support behind my important work teaching debate to at-risk black and Hispanic teens, I am ready to make that reception).

I disagree, however, with Mr. Tarkenton that the root cause of this country’s declining academic performance rests primarily in bad teachers. Rather, I think the root cause lies in families of origin, where the critical thinking, reading, and listening skills so essential to success in a global high-tech economy, need to be modeled from the earliest possible age. When parents engage in lifelong learning, their children follow suit. There’s only so much a star athlete, star coach, and star teacher can do to achieve excellence when those he is working for, or working with, do not share the same no-excuses commitment to excellence.

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