Schools should never be run as if they were corporations

If your child is enrolled at a New York City public school, rest assured he or she is receiving a substandard education. This statement may sound alarming, but it is true. Teachers unions are under attack nationwide. The agenda being pushed by the wealthiest Americans via our elected officials is to destroy unions, privatize public schools and turn teaching into a low-income, low-skilled, high-turnover job.

Unions have afforded teachers solid middle-class status. There are wealthy individuals who want to do away with that. They would like to strip teachers of any collective bargaining rights. They would like to see teachers become at-will employees at the mercy of their administrators, who would have the power to fire anyone who is not in good favor with their administrator.

Many veteran administrators have been pushed out of the school system only to be replaced by unqualified, inexperienced people — some from corporate America after attending the Leadership Academy. This academy was created by former city Schools Chancellor Joel Klein to train non-educators to run schools or districts.

The Broad Academy for Superintendents is an organization training people from corporate America as well as the military to run large school districts nationwide. Many of the graduates of the Leadership and Broad academies have created an avalanche of problems in the schools and districts they run. Veteran educators are being overlooked for high-level administrator jobs in order to give corporate individuals the power to run schools corporate-style.

And what always counts in the business world is the bottom line. They are implementing corporate-style tactics in order to drive our experienced teachers out and ensure that the job is so miserable that younger teachers will not stay either.

There has been a proliferation of charter schools. There is a massive profit to be made by individuals who run these schools. Some charter CEOs make close to a half a million dollars to run schools for a few hundred students — all at taxpayer expense. Most charters practice self-selection, regularly counseling out students who do not make the grade.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has also proposed increasing the amount of special education students in our general education populations. Students who receive special education services are often pulled out for services for much of the day, disrupting classes. Under Bloomberg, there has been a huge surge in Collaborative Team Teaching classes, where 60 percent of students are general education and 40 percent are special education in a given class. This is not fair.

Most charter schools are also test-prep factories. The quality of the education our children receive is horrible. Students using the Balanced Literacy and Everyday Mathematics curricula are not getting a good education. Research suggests progressive education curricula such as these are detrimental to students. Should we believe that not learning to spell correctly, not using grammar properly and not having strong math skills will make our children college-ready?

The people behind the movement to “reform” education would also like to eliminate rewarding teachers for advanced degrees. They do not want to see people dedicated to education. They would also like to see teacher evaluations linked to student scores. This is another business tactic that sets impossible goals for employees and when they cannot meet them.

We do not need temporary staff. We need people who are committed to educating our children — not people who are here to push others’ agendas or their own. They would like to create a system that educates our children as cheaply as possible, including online instruction. They want to see teachers last no more than a few years, thereby eliminating higher salaries and pensions. Make no mistake: This is all about money. They do not care about our children.

Teachers are tired of being vilified in the press. Teachers are tired of being told they are greedy. Teachers are tired of being blamed for students’ failures. Teachers are tired of having their voices ripped away to defend themselves as well as their students. Teachers are tired of corporate-style management. Teachers are tired of dealing with incompetent, unqualified leadership running their schools. Teachers are tired of being fearful. Teachers are tired of not having a say in what they teach and being judged on the results.

Something is wrong when teachers have somehow become the punching bag of the media.

James Daniels