RNC Convention Day 1 - Ugly

Tuesday, August 29 was the first day of the RNC convention. As part of their proceedings, they released their education platform, which takes a sideswipe at educators

Parents are responsible for the education of their children. We do not believe in a one size fits all approach to education and support providing broad education choices to parents and children at the State and local level. Maintaining American preeminence requires a world-class system of education, with high standards, in which all students can reach their potential. Today’s education reform movement calls for accountability at every stage of schooling. It affirms higher expectations for all students and rejects the crippling bigotry of low expectations. It recognizes the wisdom of State and local control of our schools, and it wisely sees consumer rights in education – choice – as the most important driving force for renewing our schools.

Education is much more than schooling. It is the whole range of activities by which families and communities transmit to a younger generation, not just knowledge and skills, but ethical and behavioral norms and traditions. It is the handing over of a personal and cultural identity. That is why education choice has expanded so vigorously. It is also why American education has, for the last several decades, been the focus of constant controversy, as centralizing forces outside the family and community have sought to remake education in order to remake America. They have not succeeded, but they have done immense damage.

Privatization and "choice" also take prominent position in the platform, as Ed Week notes

•Doesn't see more money as the solution for improving education. That tracks with the budget proposed by the presumptive veep nominee, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin, which calls for big cuts in domestic discretionary spending, the category that includes education.

•Pushes what does works in the GOP view instead of more funding: accountability on the part of administrators, parents and teachers; higher academic standards; programs that support the development of character and financial literacy; and periodic testing in math, science, reading, history, and geography.

•Calls for rigorous academic standards, but doesn't actually mention the words "Common Core State Standards Initiative." Instead, it "affirms higher expectations for all students and rejects the crippling bigotry of low expectations."

The biggest news from day 1 of the RNC Convention had little to do with education at all. According to widespread media reports, an attendee at the Republican National Convention threw nuts at a black camerawoman working for CNN and said “This is how we feed animals”.

This shocking and ugly event followed on from an earlier event that was similarly ugly

Zoraida Fonalledas, the chairwoman of the Committee on Permanent Organization—took her turn at the main-stage lectern. As she began speaking in her accented English, some in the crowd started shouting “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”
RNC chairman Reince Priebus quickly stepped up and asked for order and respect for the speaker, suggesting that, yeah, what we had just seen might well have been an ugly outburst of nativism

The video of the event is here.

Later in the evening Ann Romney spoke, and so did Governor Christie - both appearing to speak at cross purposes.

Ann Romney at the Republican National Convention tonight:

Tonight I want to talk to you about love. I want to talk to you about the deep and abiding love I have for a man I met at a dance many years ago. And the profound love I have, and I know we share, for this country. I want to talk to you about that love so deep only a mother can fathom it — the love we have for our children and our children's children.

Chris Christie, 20 minutes later:

But I have learned over time that it applies just as much to leadership. In fact, I think that advice applies to America today more than ever. I believe we have become paralyzed by our desire to be loved.

While Ohio Governor John Kasich didn't speak of love, he did espousethe economic recovery in Ohio. He failed to mention however, the repeal of SB5 and his own budget that has caused a school funding crisis and local tax hikes.

So that was an eventful day 1. Probably a day the GOP would like to have back.

SB5 is very harmful to new teachers

When the supporters of SB5 talk about the teaching provisions, they use an ugly, divisive argument. The argument is mean to pit teacher against teacher, young vs old, like this example from "Better Ohio"

Or this from an extreme right wing blogger

It's an ugly argument, full of falsehoods on a number of levels, for a number of reasons. They not too subtly imply that because of seniority, young teacher get laid off - and that it's these young teachers that are "the best".

This should offend any veteran educator, in no other profession is experience denigrated or misrepresented in this manner.

The very best teachers in Ohio have some of the deepest and longest experience. Consider Ohio's teachers of the year

Tim Dove, 2011 Ohio Teacher of the Year - 29 years experience
Natalie Wester, 2010 Ohio Teacher of the Year - 7 years experience
Jennifer Walker, 2009 Ohio Teacher of the Year - over 14 years experience
Deborah Wickerham, 2008 Ohio Teacher of the Year - over 33 years experience
George Edge, 2007 Ohio Teacher of the Year - over 28 years experience
Eric Combs, 2006 Ohio Teacher of the Year - over 20 years experience
Deepa Ganschinietz, 2005 Ohio Teacher of the Year - over 20 years experience
Kathy Rank, 2004 Ohio Teacher of the Year - over 20 years experience
Doreen Uhas-Sauer, 2003 Ohio Teacher of the Year - over 35 years experience

The argument is particularly ugly because no one wants to argue that there are some fine young teachers, but all the evidence in the world indicates that if SB5 passes it is young teachers, not more experienced teachers, who would suffer to the greatest extent.

First, teaching is an incredibly hard, complex job, requiring lots of skill, practice and experience. This is one of the primary reasons why it is estimated that almost a third of America’s teachers leave the field sometime during their first three years of teaching, and almost half leave after five years (National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education). If we were to rely predominantly on young teachers our schools would experience significant shortages and very distruptive turnover.

Moreover, study after study shows that teachers become more skilled with experience (see Rice, 2003; Murnane, 1975; Murnane & Phillips, 1981; Ferguson, 1991; Ferguson & Ladd, 1996; Greenwald, Hedges, & Laine, 1996; Hanushek, Kain, & Rivkin, 1998; Grissmer, Flanagan, Kawata, & Williamson, 2000; Rivers & Sanders, 2002; Rowan et al., 2002; Wayne & Youngs, 2003; Nye, Konstantopoulos, & Hedges, 2004; Hanushek & Rivkin, 2004; Hanushek, Kain, O’Brien, & Rivkin, 2005; Kane, Rockoff, & Staiger, 2006; Gordon, Kane, & Staiger, 2006; Harris & Sass, 2007; Aos, Miller, & Pennucci, 2007; Clotfelter, Ladd, & Vigdor, 2006, 2007a).

If teachers are to be evlauated, paid, hired and fired based on their performance, it is unlikely that most new, inexperienced teachers are going to benefit from this rubric when compared to their more experienced colleagues. Indeed, in the absence of preferential treatment or compensation level based decisions that seniority protects against, younger teachers should expect to be let go more often, not less. See their pay grow slower and not faster

How many people would want to enter such a profession?

To be explicit. If SB5 were to become law, young teachers entering the classroom would be harmed significantly by it.

Supporters of SB5 are not interested in rewarding the best teacher, or any teachers. If they were they would have included money in the bill, or the budget, to provide that reward. Instead they made unprecedented cuts to public education.