The novice #teacher versus the veteran

We have here a debate over the value of experience, one from a system that rejected bonuses for novice teachers and another an analysis of Rhee’s now defunct New Teacher Project. Regarding the former, some officials touted raises for less experienced teachers, likely to increase retention, but:

“We don’t just want raises for teachers in years 1 through 10, we want raises for all teachers,” said Tony Hernandez, executive director of the Classroom Teachers Association union that has been negotiating with the district on a teachers’ contract for this school year and next school year.

So, that plan failed, for obvious reasons, as teacher advocacy groups would rather spread that money out amongst all professionals, rather than favor teachers in their first ten years. I have mixed feelings about this. I can totally understand why the bonuses were suggested: to help new folks stay in the profession. Additionally, new, younger teachers may have loans to repay and not yet have a second income, so maybe they need a little extra at first as they begin their careers. They don’t have accumulated materials, books, and the like that veteran educators collect over many years.

Even as a faculty member who is 33 right now, I get a sense that my judgment would be questioned because of my age in elementary schools. So, I think there’s “ageism” both ways, both young and older teachers are suspicious of each other. Those veterans have some work to do as well, let’s not forget that.

In terms of the second piece, it’s another entry on one teacher’s experiences with TNTP. Even though they went through it, the author finds some problems with underlying ideology. Fine, to wit:

he idea that jaded, overly comfortable tenured teachers are to blame for the achievement gap plays right into the old familiar teacher-scapegoating routine so popular among education “reformers” today. Rhee, of course, is best known for “cleaning up” D.C. schools by “sweeping out” hundreds of teachers based on test scores. (She is also gaining some less welcome attention because of suspicions that there was extensive cheating on tests at D.C. schools under her tenure as chancellor.)

Without getting into the piece’s arguments, I have a very quick thought that just came up. Is anyone out there sensing problems with this whole “my experience as a teacher is better than yours” kind of ethos? That is, a teacher’s experience in California, in Missouri, in Louisiana, or wherever are all judged equally and given equal merit. Are teachers’ experiences really that homogenized that we can assume one from any of the thousands of school systems represents the views of the collective? Should we not take into account of the nuances that may underscore their views? Is one teacher really equivalent and representative of all teachers?

Perhaps I’m oversimplifying the issue here, but can we trust all individual teacher accounts the same?

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