I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Refs For America

Apparently, nothing else happened in America over the last 48 hours:

And so we see what happens when the petty greed of wealthy owners trumps any sense of innate integrity. They have more than enough money to come to a reasonable accommodation with the refs; they just refuse to part with it if they don't have to.

And I have to agree with Steve Young; there is a very good chance the owners will get away with it:
As Steve Young put it on last week’s “Monday Night Football” broadcast, the NFL is “inelastic for demand.”
“There is nothing they can do to hurt the demand of the game,” Young said. “So the bottom line is they don’t care. Player safety doesn’t matter in this case. Bring Division III officials? Doesn’t matter. Because in the end you’re still going to watch the game.”
On second thought, I'm not quite as sanguine as Young about this - in the long term. Ultimately, I think the owners will pay a price if the lockout goes on much longer: the value of the NFL brand and each of their teams' brands suffers every time these incompetent refs take the field. Short term, however, lots of people like football, there's nothing else worth watching on Monday nights (Mrs. Jazzman's would disagree strongly, which is why we have two TVs), and fans would rather sit through a terribly reffed game than watch no game at all.

So, unless the public or the players really ramp up the pressure, there's not much reason for the owners to settle. Which brings us to teachers...

One of the biggest reformy arguments we hear about teachers is that experience is overrated.  Reformies assume that teacher burnout is inevitable (I think the proof for this mostly exists in fictional movies), and that young, enthusiastic teachers - who, conveniently, just happen to be cheap! - are what we need to get kids motivated.

Of course, the research shows the opposite: experience does matter a great deal. And the thought of a "profession" where experienced practitioners are not rewarded for their longevity is absurd: certainly the law, medicine, the military, academia, and many other fields reward experience simply for its own sake. Yes, some people do decline over time and need to be helped or shown the door. But the notion of treating a 30-year veteran teacher the same as a second year teacher offends the basic idea of professionalism.

Because it should be about more than the bottom line - in any career. Sure, the TV ratings might stay strong, and the ticket holders will still get in line next year for the NFL. But isn't there more to life than that? Don't the years of experience that veteran NFL refs bring to the game help them command respect? And isn't that respect vital to maintaining the integrity of the game?

By the same token: when Teach For America sends out bright, young, enthusiastic, but poorly trained teachers into the most difficult schools, aren't they undermining the professionalism of teaching? Isn't it wrong to label these teachers as "highly qualified" when clearly they are not? Especially when TFA teachers have such a high rate of attrition?

The research on TFA teachers' effectiveness is exactly what you'd expect:
The trade-offs are straightforward. TFA teachers are elite college graduates, but they receive a much shorter training process than conventional teacher education programs. They teach in hard-to-staff schools, but they generally do so for only two years. So one would expect that these TFA teachers would show outcomes better than other minimally trained beginning teachers but worse than fully trained teachers or experienced teachers. In fact, the research shows exactly these results, explain Heilig and Jez.
TFA teachers do get better - if they stay long enough to become fully credentialed, the evidence suggests. Those experienced, fully credentialed TFA teachers "appear to do about as well as other, similarly experienced, credentialed teachers in teaching reading ... [and] as well as, and sometimes better than, that comparison group in teaching mathematics," Heilig and Jez write. [emphasis mine]
But why would they stay in a profession if it has little regard for experience and seniority? Who wants to invest in a career where you don't get commensurate respect for your years of service?

I'm sure some of the scab refs who came out of the Lingerie Football League will improve with time; just like many of the TFAers who stay in teaching will. But with every game these folks ref and every class these folks teach, the integrity of the NFL and of public education is compromised. Hiring inexperienced people to do a professional's job may save money and get you minimally acceptable results...

But is it really worth it?

ADDING: via Defend NJ's Public Schools:

More like this!

1 comment:

be careful said...

Of all the states to lose to an inexperienced novice RFA wannabe I am so happy it is the home of Scott Walker...the anti union, collective bargaining ball buster....sorry Green Bay, but you are stuck with inexperienced teacher churn and amateur refs. I don't think Scotty boy will fight for you...he doesn't like unionized employees.