Opinion

Teachers union ally unleashes sexist attack on education reformer

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Education,Ashe Schow,War on Women,Teachers,Teachers Unions

It’s a war on women being perpetrated by a woman.

Diane Ravitch, a blogger, former assistant education secretary and research professor at New York University’s Steinhardt School, does not like former CNN anchor and proponent of education reform Campbell Brown’s take on teacher tenure.

And Ravitch got sexist in her criticism.

“She is a good media figure because of her looks, but she doesn’t seem to know or understand anything about teaching and why tenure matters,” Ravitch said. “I know it sounds sexist to say that she is pretty, but that makes her telegenic, even if what she has to say is total nonsense.”

Brown’s position that Ravitch finds so nonsensical is to remove teacher tenure because it makes it nearly impossible to remove underperforming teachers. Tenure means teachers can only be fired for cause, and only then after a hearing.

If only every job allowed you to present your case at a mock trial before you got canned.

Ravitch said taking away tenure is “taking away teachers’ due-process rights.”

But tenure, according to Brown, equates to “permanent lifetime employment.”

“There’s no reason why anyone’s job should become untouchable for the rest of their life,” Brown added.

Patrick Brennan at National Review Online noted in June that the firing process for teachers with tenure in California “takes an incredibly long amount of time, dozens of individual steps, and can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Brennan adds that time and expense has led to a “0.002 percent” firing rate in a given year.

And losing tenure is not as nonsensical as Ravitch believes. Making room for good teachers by removing bad ones (or keeping good teachers that haven’t been teaching for very long) is good for children.

Teacher tenure leads to the last-in-first-out method for laying off teachers. I remember back in high school worrying each year that my favorite teachers (some of whom were new) would be fired, even though they were better at connecting with students than some of the teachers who had been working longer.

But Ravitch didn’t even bother criticizing Brown’s position on its merits, she went straight for sexism.

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