Education

Hey Kids! Leaves That Teacher Alone!

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teachers who suck

Who hasn't had a truly awful teacher? My worst teachers were often burnouts, the kind of people who probably started out bright eyed and bushy-tailed, but had gradually been reduced to sleepwalking through their 30-year-old lesson plans waiting for retirement.

Nowadays, American kids have a variety of sites available where they can rate their teachers and warn incoming students to stay away from the lemons.

Not so in France, where a court ruled Monday that rating teachers online was a breach of privacy and an "incitement to public disorder."

"We are totally satisfied by this ruling," said Francis Berguin, the head of the SNES teachers' union. "It is not up to pupils to mark their own teachers and certainly not on a commercial Web site," he told LCI news channel.

While some of the ratings are bound to be motivated by revenge for bad grades or perceived slights–who wouldn't welcome the chance to stick it to harsh graders?–the lawsuit wasn't concerned with accuracy. The union simply decided that minor inconvenience or possible embarrassment for teachers was unacceptable and required restrictions on student speech and commercial enterprise.

The unions may have won for now, but they're fighting a losing battle. "The ranking and evaluation of professionals on the Web is a fundamental principle and a primary motor of the Internet around the world," [Stephane Cola, who co-founded the site] told reporters after the verdict. He's right.

More reason on the havoc caused by teacher's unions here and here. John Stossel on how to fire an incompetent teacher here.

NEXT: Streetlights, People, Aooowaaaaaugh!

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  1. We are totally satisfied by this ruling,” said Francis Berguin, the head of the SNES teachers’ union.

    I knew France was behind on getting new consumer technology out to the public, but seriously, by now they should at least have a WII teacher’s union (though SNES still has its appeal).

  2. What exactly is stopping people from rating teachers on a site based in, say, Montreal?

  3. Yeah but the only thing the Wii teacher’s union would be good for is playing the same old games as the SNES Union. Although I hear the sports program is quite improved.

  4. Parisan restaurants that have lost Michilen stars should use this ruling as a precedent for sticking it to the Michilen guide.

  5. Are there some sort of padded fences that run the length of the French coast lines? Because I’m wondering what keeps them from all wandering into the sea?

  6. Cross another country off the list of places for Free Speech. It seems like were almost going backwards in society.

  7. To be fair, teachers need a public website where they can belittle students.

    Believe it or not, kids can be fucking assholes. Not yours of course, the other parents’ kids.

  8. Here in Germany we had an almost identical lawsuit regarding a site called spickmich.de, but in this case it was thankfully decided against the suing teacher.

  9. It is not up to pupils to have an opinion.

  10. sarcasm, by the way.

  11. I think there ought to be a law that you’re not allowed to teach more than three years in a row. After that, you have to get another job for at least three years before you can come back.

    If I had a dollar for every burnt-out teacher I had from K-12 I’d have a retirement nest egg by now.

  12. I’d also like to know if there are confidential student evaluations of teachers in French Universities. Wouldn’t that also violate their “privacy”?

  13. The three biggest problems in education today are:

    Teachers that can’t be fired

    Students that can’t be expelled

    Adminstrations that are immune to market pressure

  14. I’m in my 8th year teaching and I’ve been rated on these sites numerous times. I think they’re stupid but basically harmless. Comments on some website are NOT EVER going to be used to justify personnel actions or evaluations. Period. Most of us on my staff just laugh at them.

  15. Only a lad-

    They’re very useful for University students, however, who have much greater leeway in choosing which Professors they will get.

  16. I think there ought to be a law that you’re not allowed to teach more than three years in a row. After that, you have to get another job for at least three years before you can come back.

    There’s a good plan for keeping everyone out of the teaching profession.

  17. There’s a good plan for keeping everyone out of the teaching profession.

    Sad thing is that might be a slight improvement over the current public school system.

  18. “It is not up to pupils to mark their own teachers and certainly not on a commercial Web site,” he told LCI news channel.

    Grow up, a-hole.

  19. It is not up to pupils to mark their own teachers and certainly not on a commercial Web site,” he told LCI news channel.

    There is not match for the smuggness of a frenchman in righteous indignation.

  20. What exactly is stopping people from rating teachers on a site based in, say, Montreal?

    Epi: Nothing, actually. But I suspect that French law would penalize the posters, anyway.

    Cross another country off the list of places for Free Speech. It seems like were almost going backwards in society.

    Alex: France, and most of the rest of Europe, has been off this list for some time, now.

    I think there ought to be a law that you’re not allowed to teach more than three years in a row. After that, you have to get another job for at least three years before you can come back.

    Cesar: A great idea, but impossible to implement without violating libertarian ideals about right to work. A better solution would be no careerist teachers, but mandatory granting of sabaticals to (ie) IT people to teach computer science, but this has the same problems as your original solution.

    Comments on some website are NOT EVER going to be used to justify personnel actions or evaluations. Period. Most of us on my staff just laugh at them.

    OaL: Yet. First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then you win. Thanks for the OB ref, though.

  21. Re: headline. “Leave.”

  22. Most of us on my staff just laugh at them.

    only a lad, I just checked out the ratings and comments on my kid’s teachers on the RateMyTeachers site. I’m impressed at the accuracy. Lots of comments along the lines of – ‘really hard, but a great teacher, if you do your homework you’ll do well on the AP exam.’ Or ‘very nice, easy A, but you won’t do well next year in Pre-calc.’

    Sure there was some typical teenage garbage and griping, but if you see a theme, positive or negative, I suggest you take it seriously.

  23. First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then you win.

    The Flat Earth Society is getting ready to so win big time, after being ignored and laughed at for so long.

  24. If I had a dollar for every burnt-out teacher I had from K-12 I’d have a retirement nest egg by now.

    Cesar, how many teachers did you have? If I had a dollar for every teacher, good or bad, I’d had from K to 12, I’d have… not enough for a Wii. I could get a game, maybe. Let’s see, 6 teachers K-5, plus 4 specialists (PE, music, art, “gifted”). 6 periods for 3 years 6-8, skipping over having the same band teacher, add in 4 for exploratory classes – 22. 9-12 I have 7 periods, 2 are same teacher one year and three years, plus same Latin teacher, and only 4 one semester classes – 17 at minimum. Counting extra teachers I’d encounter for math club, lit mag, homeroom, etc… 20ish?

    $48? 50? (Wow, I was right. I can buy and on sale Wii game). And I’d say 10 – 25% of my teachers were burnt out. That is not a lot of money. Maybe you had REALLY bad teachers.

  25. Its called hyperbole, megs.

  26. Teachers that can’t be fired – Students that can’t be expelled – Adminstrations that are immune to market pressure

    It’s actually even worse than that.

    Yes, oftentimes teachers can’t be fired, but that still doesn’t mean they’re at liberty to teach as they see fit – they’re still straitjacketed by regulations and by the whims of local boards, in spite of the enormous amount of speicalized education training they have to pass. That kids can smell their teachers’ paper-thin authority and act accordingly should come as no surprise to someone who’s known any kids.

    Students can and are expelled (I was), but again – it’s a function of political pressure by boards and far from being a disciplinary measure, it appears limited to the regulation and disposal of undesirable students and liabilities. More often than expelling kids, counselors will talk them into dropping out (“It’s better for you, you don’t need to be here”; though of course it isn’t and practically speaking, they do).

    And even worse than being immune to market pressure, administrators are must perform their jobs under constant political pressure. In a reversal that’s typical of the upside-down logic of public schools, they must employ experts but perform under the scrutiny and authority of non-experts. Market pressure would be great, but failing that, relief of the myriad of counterproductive political pressures would make improvements to the classroom possible that presently are not.

  27. I would be interested in hearing from some of you who went to Catholic or other schools. What percent of your teachers were burnt out? Most businesses that I interact with have burned out employees. Schools are whipping boys, but are they more filled with ineffective employees than other businesses? I don’t know, so I would be interested in hearing people’s honest impressions.

  28. I grew up at a time in a place where public schools actually worked. The teachers in the college-prep classes were mostly involved and caring, but even then the teachers with class loads involving the mandatory general education classes tended to be worn down.

  29. My daughter is in 5th grade public school. She has in my view had 5 good teachers and 1 dud, so a little under 20%. But even that year she learned a lot with very high scores on all sections of the no child left behind tests.

  30. The teachers unions are turning them into more bricks in the wall.

  31. To be fair, we should have rating sites for parents, since more often than not, it’s shitty parenting that causes, or allows students to fail. Yes, that includes some of you on this site.

    I don’t blame teachers for becoming essentially numb in time. After all, they’ve signed on to be a sitter in what is a truly sterile, institutionalized environment.

    Public schools are essentially half-way homes for the mentally ill.

    But of course, it’s not acceptable to blame parents. They work a long, hard days, and television waits for no burned out custodian.

  32. I just wanted to say that I find megs’ literal reading of Cesar’s hyperbole to be hilarious.
    If I had a nickel for every time I laughed reading megs’ post, I would be Bill Gates.

  33. “(“It’s better for you, you don’t need to be here”; though of course it isn’t and practically speaking, they do).”

    I disagree. Some of the students would be better off dropping out, and entering a trade program, or at least moving on with their lives, and leaving the mess of public school behind them.

    Dropping out of high school is not the end of the world. It doesn’t stop you from getting into college, or obtaining a decent job. In fact, a high school diploma is virtually useless.

    Some students will be okay, others will simply engage in the same behavior outside of school that they did while in school. It’s a wash.

    It makes sense for some people to drop out, especially if the learning environment becomes counter-productive.

    The worst, yet unavoidable aspect of public education is the fact that it employs a one size fits all strategy to education that leaves many students pissing in the wind.

  34. At my Catholic elementary school young teachers were enthusiastic and old teachers were enthusiastic as well as confident, experienced, and smart. Catholic schools nationwide teach with smaller per-student budgets than public schools but outperform them in student testing. There’s a lot of heterogeneity among Catholic schools (some of which are only nominally Catholic, elite, metropolitan/suburban college-prep schools and some of which are modest, conservative “community” schools worshipping Jesus a lot and football a lot too).

  35. For the Sake,

    The problem is that a high school diploma is nearly meaningless, but that employers really want you to have them.

  36. My teachers in public school (rural WV) were great as well, all the way up through high school. I don’t know why, by all the statistics, I should have been up shit creek, but it sure worked out fine for me.

  37. It doesn’t surprise me that this is coming out of France. Ask a teacher for clarification there, and the student is dubbed “insolent.” According to the French education ethic, the teachers are always right.

  38. Education in France is one of the strongest expressions and causes of the elitism that afflicts French society.

  39. Ask a teacher for clarification there, and the student is dubbed “insolent.”

  40. What is oh so wrong about “rating the parents”, For the Sake, is that the TEACHERS are the ones responsible to the parents, not the other way around. And far too few teachers acknowledge this. They would rate the parent as to how compliant they were to their “expertise” and “authority”.

    When do the parents get rated? When their kids grow up and become successful, happy, responsible adults. THAT is the acid test, and the only one.

  41. They would rate the parent as to how compliant they were to their “expertise” and “authority”.

    Pssht. Just like parents can rate on those teacher sites how “compliant” they were at raising little Johnny’s grade for a Big Project that he just didn’t have time to finish because he had football playoffs. Parents are just as petty and conniving as teachers when they want their future Ivy-Leaguer to get whatever they want without the work. /bitter Texas “education” rant

    Parents do have a responsibility to teachers. They are responsible for getting their kids to school and making sure they do their homework. They are responsible for keeping an eye on their grades and staying in contact with teachers. Teachers have their end of the bargain to uphold, that is true, but too many people and parents dump all the responsibility on the teacher without realizing how lazy and irresponsible parents are in regards to their childrens’ education.

  42. “The problem is that a high school diploma is nearly meaningless, but that employers really want you to have them.”

    What job? Most jobs don’t even verify if you have a college degree or not, much less a H.S. diploma. Simply having a H.S. diploma alone won’t exactly put you in interviews where it matters anyway. You would have to pursue a college education, and that doesn’t require a H.S. diploma, or even a G.E.D. in many cases.

    Furthermore, as much as some of you want to believe that the teachers are solely responsible for educating the students, basic logic dictates that they aren’t.

    Schools are merely introductory sessions. Teachers alone cannot make a student learn the required material, or even expand meaningfully on that material. There’s simply not enough time or resources to do so. The interest, and discipline has to be enforced outside of school.

    A person’s ability to live successfully comes more so from their home environment, not from their constant preparation for standardized tests.

    So, keep clicking your heels and believing that’s its’ all about the quality of the teachers. The inability for people to lambaste the horrid parenting that ruins most students is one of the reasons that there is a problem.

    How do I know this? I never finished H.S., and I went to college, and pursued an English Degree, along with paralegal certification.

    Hours of reading, and introspection did more for my education than any pseudo learning environment ever could.

  43. “When do the parents get rated? When their kids grow up and become successful, happy, responsible adults. THAT is the acid test, and the only one.”

    There are great parents who have kids who grow up to be psychopaths. The formula is a bit more complicated than you realize.

    As well, there are great teachers who simply cannot get students to perform the way that they should.

    Some students need to be left behind at a certain age, and the burden of their advancement should rest solely upon their shoulders, as well as the shoulders of their custodians.

    If this were to happen then public schools might start to improve, and be able to handle the ridiculous number of delinquents that it harbors.

    Some kids, for various reasons, do not function properly in an institutionalized environment.

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