Good teachers have nothing to fear
Saturday, May 10, 2014 06:00 am
It’s pure folly to believe that not even one of Alberta’s 36,000 active teachers is incompetent. It’s a mathematical impossibility, but it’s exactly what the Alberta Teachers’ Association wants us to believe.
In the last 10 years, there has not been one single case in which a teacher’s certification has been cancelled due to incompetence. The ATA is the judge and jury when it comes to complaints lodged against teachers, but it also represents the very teachers who are the subjects of those complaints. It’s a blatant conflict of interest, and because of it substandard teachers remain in the classroom today.
The recently released report from the Task Force on Teaching Excellence is by no means the gold standard for the improvement of education in Alberta. It does, however, make a valid point that there is no effective mechanism in place to deal with teacher misconduct, and that has a direct impact on the overall quality of teaching in the province.
This point really is unchallengeable, but that hasn’t stopped ATA president Mark Ramsankar, who blasted the panel this week for what he calls an attack on the teaching profession.
“We didn’t become one of the best education systems in the world because we employ mediocre teachers and because we have an association that protects misconduct and incompetence,” he said.
We agree – Alberta does have one of the best education systems in the world – but to state there are no mediocre teachers in the province, let alone no incompetent ones, is disingenuous at best.
The task force suggested principals should possibly be removed from the ATA so they can effectively deal with teacher competence issues. This notion is the conflict of interest would be removed. Of course, that doesn’t fly with the ATA, which contends it would “extend human resource functions that are now exercised by school boards.”
First of all, these functions are not being effectively exercised. Secondly, school principals are also educators and are therefore better equipped to deal with teacher competence issues than a school board that may have non-educators sitting on it.
The ATA contends that the government is “turning principals from education leaders and professional colleagues into bosses.”
Bosses, at least good ones, are collaborative, encouraging and an organization’s biggest cheerleader. Good bosses also have their organization’s health as their primary directive. In the world of education, that primary directive is teaching excellence for our children, and poor teachers threaten that directive. A mechanism should be put in place to allow school principals to remove all threats to quality education.
Good teachers are worth their weight in gold, and they should be celebrated for equipping our children with the knowledge they need to flourish as adults. Unfortunately, there are poor teachers out there who are doing a disservice to our children. These teachers do the bare minimum, or less, but they put their time in to collect a pension. They lack passion for the job, which is very demanding in terms of time and energy. It’s not a secret who these teachers are.
Adults today can reflect on their education and can tell you without hesitation if they had a bad teacher and in which grade or subject. The ATA would do well to recognize this fact and work collaboratively with stakeholders to weed them out.