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Teachers Unions Concerned Kids Might Get Bored When Stuck for Hours Under the Care of Mediocre Instructors

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this image is not meant to imply in any way that I totally had teachers who drank on the job at my public school

Three years ago, Chicago's Mayor Richard M. Daley tried to negotiate with the teachers union to extend the school day by 45 minutes. (Chicago kids have one of the shortest school days in the country.)

After those talks fell apart, Daley moved on to Plan B: A mandatory extended day program where kids take online supplemental classes in reading and math, guided by non-union facilitators. And, just as a little screw you, the new plan calls for a 90-minute extension. A pilot will take place at 15 elementary schools and be mandatory for first through eighth graders.

Suddenly, teachers union officials are speaking out about their concerns that kids might not love being stuck in classrooms for hours on end with indifferent instruction:

"When the kids are tired and they want to go home and they don't want to do this any more, what happens? I'm a little concerned about how this plays out over an entire year," said union president Karen Lewis.

And this:

"To sit a kid at a computer for an extra hour—I want to make sure it's not drill-and-kill and that the so-called 'facilitators' know what they're doing. Or is this yet another way to get around our contract?" Lewis said. "They keep trying to ding us every other way they can. Is this just another way to do education on the cheap?"

To answer those questions: Yep and yep.

I've expressed my skepticism elsewhere about the value of extending the school day in schools that really aren't very good. More of a bad thing doesn't make it into a good thing. But this idea is appealing, mostly because it has the kind of flexibility that other attempts at school reform rarely enjoy: If the online classes don't work out, Daley can kill the program, try a new online ed provider, of just turn the whole thing into daycare. And if he hits the jackpot and kids love the online ed and/or scores improve dramatically, he can expand the program. And trying to use commerical online solutions to provide high quality education more cheaply isn't a bad thing.

I've written about the touchy relationship between online education and teachers unions here.

Via reader Chris Sengenberger.

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  1. “When the kids are tired and they want to go home and they don’t want to do this any more, what happens?”

    I say we bust this place up!!

  2. “Suddenly, teachers union officials are speaking out about their concerns that kids might not love being stuck in classrooms for hours on end with indifferent instruction:”

    They’re not objecting to “indifference;” it’s non-union indifference that frosts them.

    1. If the teachers union is against it, it’s probably a good program.

      I’ve never met a union member that gave a shit about anyone or anything but themselves.

  3. Suddenly, teachers union officials are speaking out about their concerns that kids might not love being stuck in classrooms for hours on end with indifferent instruction[.]

    Their concerns should be quieted summarily, since everybody knows that compulsory enslavem… I mean, education, is the most important thing the government can do for the children… whether the miserable little tykes want it or not.

  4. How is the teacher’s union like a Catholic priest?

    They both want to fuck the children and get paid for doing it.

  5. “I want to make sure it’s not drill-and-kill…”

    A great deal of what’s fucked up with American education can be summed up in that phrase. “Drill and kill” is eduspeak for direct instruction, aka, actually teaching kids material as opposed to the “discovery” or “self-guided” methods in vogue today.

    The school my wife teaches at was in deep shit over failure to reach AYP two years in a row, and, in desperation, they implemented a program of DI for certain subjects. Guess what? They not only made AYP, they’re now one of the top schools in the state.

    Education is all about increasing staff count and keeping teachers amused. Students are a distant third.

    1. DI is very effective – if kids don’t have any basic knowledge about subjects in their heads, they cannot be creative or engage in discovery.

      I’ve been reading about “teaching ergonomically,” which is essentially bombarding kids with information from many directions until they get facts into their heads. It might be old fashioned, but it works for teachers who are permitted to practice it. Imagine, teaching Gatsby, TKAM or Grapes of Wrath when students have knowledge and context for life before and during the Great Depression, or teaching writing when students have had grammar repetitively exposed to them. Oh, the horror of learning the hows and whys of cueing your reader to your meaning with punctuation marks, syntax, and diction!

      1. The school district here stopped teaching grammar as part of the English curriculum years ago. The official mantra is that children will learn the skill by “absorbing” it from the material.

        In addition, the schools stopped doing any real spelling and vocabulary work even earlier than that. The current crop of graduates might be able to read, but comprehension and writing are out the window.

        Of course, with texting and tweeting becoming the newest forms of communication who needs any of those skills.

        (This is among many reasons I moved my son to a private school.)

  6. I’ve become interested of late in following the online-schooling movement and its successes or failures. I’m doing an online Master’s program right now and like the model, but I wonder how well children with varying degrees of commitment and discipline (and supervision) will fare.

    Of course, KMW is correct in that extending a school day in an already crappy school is useless, but it seems that the mandatory extended time will deliver instruction in a different way. The union is scared that it might be successful, hence breaking their hold on the hearts and minds of parents. Quelle horreur!

  7. Public education must end.

    Problem solved.

    1. you and von Mises both. Of course, Ludwig thought that public education would cause ethnic strife and war through fights over the language of instruction (which, in the European context, is by no means far-fetched).

  8. I don’t really care for Daley, but if he keeps doing things like this, I just might understand why Chicagoans vote for him…

  9. If nothing else, this will keep kids off the streets for an extra 90 minutes per day. Kids are the frequent targets of violent crime in Chicago, mostly on the South Side.

  10. Maybe the so-called ‘facilitators’ should be paid based on how well their students improve, or perhaps by some objective evaluation from the outside. That way we could assure the teachers’ union that the children’s education would not suffer.

    1. To hell with the teachers unions. Every freaking union in the country should be busted. They are a festering boil on society

  11. They both want to fuck the children and get paid for doing it.

    1. They both want to fuck the children and get paid for doing it.

      Problem solved.

      I see BagBot is evolving a libertarian sense of humor.

  12. DI is very effective – if kids don’t have any basic knowledge about subjects in their heads, they cannot be creative or engage in discovery.

  13. Is this just another way to do education on the cheap?

    Ms. Lewis is simply doing everything in her power so dat chilurns can get dey learn on.

    1. So don’t hate.

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