Dec 9, 2008

For DC Teachers: It is A Time To Build Up, A Time To Gather Stones, A Time To Speak... A Time Of War

To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven. I always loved this passage from Ecclesiastes in the bible. I used it in raising my son, JBL and supporting some of the unpopular decisions that I as a parent had to make as well as teaching life's hardest lessons. Often when I had to impose an unpopular parental decision I started with "for everything there's a season. There's a time to fall in love, there's a time to learn how to drive, there's a time to stay out late. It's not your season yet, my son." As hard as it was for me when the time did come for my son to embrace the dreaded developmental milestones of dating, hanging out later with friends and growing up-I would remark for everything there 's a season. It's your season, go for it with all of my blessings of course. Here's the verse in its entirety.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 From The Holy Bible Attributed to King Solomon
"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sow; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war; and a time of peace."


What I have learned from this passage is that it is no longer the season to remain silent and sit back. In war, it's a time to gather stones, a time to speak out and a time to fight- to go against the grain if you will. Nationally, teachers and teachers unions are speaking out in defense of DC teachers. Just recently the Detroit Teachers Union passed a resolution in support of Washington, DC teachers and have encouraged all of teacher unions across the United States to follow suit. I attribute this to the media blame game campaign that Rhee has waged in her all out war against DC teachers. Negative anecdotes of teacher horror stories are regularly proffered almost daily it seems by Rhee and supported by the mainstream press of reporters in Washington, DC and mostly offer one sided viewpoints like the article featured by WaPo reporter Jay Mathews last week titled , "New DC Principal Hand Picked Team Makes Early Gains."

Much to my surprise another editorial appeared this week from a suburban teacher colleague in challenging Mathew's article. Here's what she said in "The Wisdom of Older Teachers" which appeared on Monday, December 8th on page A18:

"While it was heartening to learn from Jay Mathews's column that students at Shaw Middle School at Garnet-Patterson are improving their performance on tests (Metro, Dec. 1), I was dismayed at principal Brian Betts's blatant ageism in the hiring of teachers. It is unfair to equate youth with enthusiasm and ambition and to dismiss out of hand the richness of experience and wisdom gained by teaching over many years. Certainly there are older teachers who are just putting in their time until they reach retirement age, but that is a small minority, at least in my experience as a teacher. I've known and learned from many "seasoned" teachers who are dynamic, embrace new technology and challenge themselves to create more interesting lesson plans; I've also met a few younger teachers who chose not to put much effort into their instructional methods.

It is interesting that Mr. Betts requires "daily teacher training." Could this be because there are so few experienced teachers on his staff? Teachers with a few years under their belts offer knowledge to their students gained from hands-on experiences in the classroom. As in other professions, teachers with experience should be valued. I wonder if, in five years when Mr. Betts is 46, he will find that his experience and accomplishments as an administrator are discounted when he interviews with a younger version of himself, who assumes that older folks are "jaded."
Virginia R. Pass, Silver Spring, The writer teaches French at Robert Frost Middle School in Rockville.

For DC Teachers...It's a time to build up, a time to gather stones, a time to speak... a time of war. Last night we gathered together our troops alongside AFT preparing our battle plan of action. Stay tuned for more. (Posted by The Washington Teacher). (This story inspired by JB ).

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I also read that letter to the editor in the Post responding to the principal of Garnett Paterson where he made the ridiculous comment about about having a young staff. Whoopie. Guess he never heard the saying about young and dumb. Beat a lot of them quit if he can't reign in the discipline, which I hear is off the hook. The letter made a lot of sense and I'm glad you put it on your blog. But this is what Rhee is all about. People said it in the beginning, that she just wants to get rid of older black women teachers. I tried not to believe it and to like her. I too believe in serious educational reform and equity. That's why I became a teacher. But she has done too much to alienate DCPS teachers. Heck, she thinks we're what's wrong with the system. It's just so insulting.

lodesterre said...

According to Teaching Chic, Rhee is meeting with teachers who support the contract. Of course, if it is the same number as those that signed the on-line petition than it won't be more then 60 people. It has always been my understanding that management cannot enter into negotiations with the membership of the union directly. Is that not the case here? Do you know what is happening here?

Anonymous said...

To everything there is a season!!!

The Washington Teacher said...

Lodesterre: It is a labor relations violation for management to discuss such issues with members of any union because they have a collective bargaining agent.

Anonymous said...

In other words, Rhee meeting with teachers would be going around the bargaining agent, the WTU, if she were to do so independently. So count me out.

Anonymous said...

Nice of you to delete my comment. You know, the one about engaging in detrimental war hyperbole.

Guess you don't appreciate free speech...

The Washington Teacher said...

I appreciate free speech but the tone of your comments and little digs is what I don't appreciate. Perhaps you might consider posting on DC Teacher Chic as she has to approve of all posts before they appear.

Anonymous said...

Crisis bargaining folks and that's where it is we think and that I heard ! Abolishment Statute Code & 1-624-08. Office of Employee Appeals has exclusive juisdiction over unions claims appeal. Docket no.07-581 in Superior Court of Appeals stating "unfair application of the rules." Now the principles alleged report being told to lie on a classroom observations of teachers ? One principle resigns. Ask if that's Prima facie case for discriminatory effect intent.Regents v Roth ?

Anonymous said...

Collective bargaining moved to crisis bargaining. Wants to declare DC a State of Emergency. Abolishment Statute in appeals with Supreme Court,"unfair application of the rules.Now seeking legislation to empower the city to bypass collective bargaining and expand charter schools moving to plan B of teacher contract and 90 day plan. Are there guidelines per the courts to delineate tenure provisions ? Conflicting standards of review ? Ligitmate claim of entitlement to job tenure still ineffect? Alleged reports of principles being told to lie about teacher evaluations and observations ?Alleged, Patterson Elem.principle resigns in protest to unethical proceedures. Check ! "Days Like This" ! Van Morrison to ya ! When all the parts of the puzzle start to look like they fit !Checkmate Rhee !