14 March 2011

Incentivize This!

Many conservative commentators, using Scott Walker's attack on teachers' unions, have gone back to the old trope of saying that schools need to be run like businesses.

This point of view is not new, of course. It's an old stand-by for those that like to attack public education. I could spend lots of time attacking it (oh, hey! I have!). But that's not what I'm here to do. In fact, I'm not going to spend my valuable time rebutting an attitude that most of the loyal BlazeBlog readers don't share. I'm going to do something totally unexpected, go off on a tangeant.

You see, many conservative commentators have been lashing out at teachers. One of their attacks is that we're part time employees. (here's Jon Stewart's very good take on the situation) Again, this is a fallacy which I don't intend to attack today, since I think you all realize that teachers are anything but part time.

Here's what really insulting: there is an implication that teachers don't understand how it works in the business world; that somehow we work in an environment free of consequence. If only we could be fired all willy-nilly, then education would get fixed. Do you want to know why that insults me more than calling me a part-time employee?

Because it shows even more ignorance of the situation than your throw-away lines about the number of days I work. It suggests that I can't figure out how "the real world" works. Well, sirs and madames, I've got news for you. Not only do I understand how the business world works in theory, but in reality. Why? Because, like most teachers, I've worked in the business world.

But that's impossible, you protest. How could you have worked in the business world? Well, the pay is so crummy in teaching that I kinda had to. To live a comfortable life, I have to work a summer job. In fact, I've worked any number of them, and I understand how these "incentives" work in the "real-world". Since I've gotten my teaching credential, I've done the following other things:

1. Worked in race-team relations for Goodyear Tires
2. Worked in Operations for a California Wilderness Experience Center
3. Worked in customer relations for a major retail chain
4. Operated a small business and consulting company

Watch this; I'll further explain: I understand that if you click on an ad, Google gets paid, and in turn they pay me. If I start writing really crummy posts, then you'll stop reading, people will stop clicking ads, and I won't get paid. Wow, it's almost as though I'm qualified to teach this stuff. What would we call that? Economics, perhaps?

So don't blather on as if teachers don't understand your great mystery of "incentives". We get it. We're just smart enough to recognize that it probably won't make schools any better.

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