By Ron Isaac
Whenever critics of public schools argue against what they call “business as usual,” they trot out the same platitudes from the same playbook. One of them is that younger teachers with less experience are planted in poor neighborhoods and more senior veterans take root in more privileged communities. Several implications are at issue here. Let’s deal with just one of them for now.
Are the younger, less experienced instructors necessarily inferior? The same critics who constantly harp about entrenched teachers who supposedly have lost their spark and burned out and endure just to fatten their pensions now prefer these supposed graybeards and hags to the spontaneous, idealism-driven “millennials” who currently clog the non-gentrified enclaves of the indigent.
A good teacher is a good teacher. When all else is equal, they grow professionally through trial and error, but all else is never equal. There are too many intangible and pivotal other factors. There are many variables, such as the broad-spectrum attribute of raw innate talent, that count far more than time logged in service.
A prodigy 25 years old outclasses a drone of 50. And Lord knows there are many prodigies in East New York. They are happy and their students learn.
If the critics are correct about the link between teacher placement by age and experience and access to educational justice, then they’d be in the awkward position of explaining away their own inconsistency.
For example, why do most of them favor giving principals total hiring and firing power over all their teachers, while not minding or even preferring that the new breed of principals on whom they would confer this authority are as young and inexperienced as the rookie teachers in the disadvantaged areas? Many of these principals are skimpily trained and are driven by an anti-seniority indoctrination.
What is it that these critics truly value?
It’s not that they’re out for “fresh blood.”
It’s that they’re just out for blood.