Mr. Pereira, My 11th grade Chemistry teacher--correction, fat loudmouth slob aping the notion of being a teacher--was also My 10th grade Biology f.l.s.a.t.n.o.b.a.t. His degree was in Physical Education and he had spent 14 years as a Math teacher before waddling blindly into sciences.
Mr. Rivera, My 10th grade Spanish teacher--correction, hideous lying gnome lacking sense and morals--was a rambling idiot with loose hands, a fact I and several other students pointed out then, others had pointed out before and nothing was done until a decade later when he was forced to resign after being caught physically forcing himself on one of his students. In school.
Mr. González, My 11 grade Geometry teacher--correction, deluded self-obsessed ingrate--was a drunkard who routinely showed up in the classroom reeking of alcohol, often passed out between classes and once pissed himself while trying to argue with Me over his inability to remember My name.
And before you fling some notion of sour grapes at Me, I finished high school with an "A" average...after being skipped into it at age 13.
Yes, I had the wherewithal to overcome morons parading in front of classrooms, but the problem isn't merely that many teachers are too lazy and too stupid to do any other work, it's that the worst ones are treated as equally valuable as the best ones.
And note that two of these dregs of humanity were teaching core courses, the "difficult" disciplines of Math and Sciences. Why? Because they were willing to take a paycheck for doing worse than nothing. And why could they? Because it was nearly impossible to fire them for being grossly incompetent.
How did these guys fare, aside from the statutory rapist? Pereira and González retired. Full pensions. And hundreds, even thousands of students, received idiocy instead of instruction. And the grossly incompetent are still nearly impossible to fire.
A recent article in The New Yorker describes how a group of teachers spend the whole day--every day--sitting inside a "rubber room," basically serving time, but collecting their teacher paychecks. It's government employee Nirvana and it's killing Our educational system. Because where New York has a rubber room, We have...the classroom.
Most of the blame for this can be laid squarely at the feet of teacher's unions, who in their greedy push for power have taken the notion of competence in education totally out of the equation, leaving Us with the cretinous framework of an educational system where results don't matter, but policy does. That's like running a restaurant where the food tastes like reheated crap, but you simply must keep the cooks in the kitchen.
And in Puerto Rico, the educational system has been used to stuff useless wads of flesh onto the public payroll, again favoring imbeciles over students and policy over educational progress. I know We are not unique in that sense, but I wish We were unique in reversing that trend.
Can a teacher's union be a force for positive change in education? Of course it can be, but only by focusing on excellence in education as the goal. As long as a union--any union--is a self-serving leech with two suckers, one draining its membership and the other its patron entity, then a union is nothing more than a posse of thieves with license to undercut, undermine and under-deliver.
It's way past time for unions to step up and set new standards for overall progress. For the teacher's union in New York, Puerto Rico or Mississippi to do that, it must recognize three basic truths:
1) Excellence in education means adequately and openly measuring everything in the system, including teachers.
2) Some teachers are better than others and some are worst; it's called human nature.
3) For excellence in education, the best ones should get better compensation and the worse ones should be dismissed.
Why teacher's unions insist on denying these points is an indication of how far their vision is from reality. In nearly every walk of life, excellence gets rewarded with more benefits while incompetence gets dismissed. In the classroom, their "system" would have the top-notch students, the failures and the stay-at-homes all getting "C"s and no one being left behind for any reason other than death. Teachers don't want their power to "grade" students taken away from them, but Our right (We pay for their services and have a direct stake in the result, therefore We have the right) to grade them? Nuh-uh.
In My high school, I dealt with a Math teacher who several times tried to cheat Me on My final grade, a Spanish teacher with the gall to try to discuss novels, including Don Quixote, without ever having read any of them and a History teacher who could discuss the topic only as related to her trip to Russia in 1967.
I called them all on this and much more, the fat slob, the drunkard, the pervert, the cheater, the know-nothings and more, often and loudly. Was I a pain on the ass? You bet I was. Did I deserve their rejection? Uh-huh. But I didn't deserve their incompetence and inability to do even a mediocre job as teachers. None of My classmates did. No student ever does.
Teachers make a lot of noise, usually in protest and pseudo-defense of their "rights." If they really want to make a difference and recover the respect they once enjoyed and that their colleagues in other countries enjoy, then they have to earn it by being at the front of the debate of excellence in education, exemplifying the standard, rather than on the streets behaving like drop-outs.
The Jenius Has Spoken.
Update: 19 Nov. 09: The Boston Teachers Union blocks performance bonuses to deserving teachers because the others don't get any. Makes me want to re-evaluate My stance on gun support, too.