John McDonald

Blogging about politics, life, and the web

Education Cuts and Union Seniority

April 4th, 2009

Well, there’s a financial crisis and to many politicians the obvious solution is to slash education funding.  Holding those responsible accountable must sound absurd – let’s punish the kids instead and take a mortgage out against their future by reducing their access to the knowledge they need.

Here in Florida, our elected representatives seem intent on achieving the notorious status of “worst in the nation.”  Last time I checked, it was a pretty close race between us, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee.  A few years ago, the voters passed a constitutional amendment that promised to reduce the number of students in a classroom under a single teacher’s supervision, but the legislature managed to create a few dozen loopholes before they decided to completely throw out the voter’s demands.

And now of course, they’re ready to gut the school system even more.  All of these property tax cuts weren’t free, ya know!

Here in Jacksonville, it means virtually no art, music, drama, or physical education unless it is taught by a homeroom teacher that never specialized in the subject.  Don’t worry though, they don’t plan on taking much time out of the schedule for this mediocore substitute.

Yet it may not be the cuts themselves that are the worst of the situation.  The highest level of absurdity at play here is how the teachers will be selected to lose their jobs:  By union seniority.

After spending billions of dollars and years of classtime on tests designed to measure performance, none of that data will be incorporated into the decision of who stays and who goes.  Everyone under the age of 30 can just forget about a teaching job – regardless of what they put into the school or how much the students get out of their educational style.

Now I’m not saying that young teachers are good and more experienced ones are bad, but it is also very clear that some of the senior teachers are literally from “another generation” when it comes to certain things like race relations and the role of religion in public schools.  This is most definitely a southern problem…

So if you’re wondering why the next generation isn’t curing cancer and saving us from environmental destruction, just remember that it was nothing personal.  We have to protect those who have been around a while – because hey – isn’t this collapsing society proof that they’ve done a good job so far?

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