Great Moments in Mediocrity

Teachers at one school district in California chose not to select a teacher of the year this year, because it smacked too much of recognizing and rewarding competence (hat tip: best of the web):

The name of the winner was to have been
announced at tonight's school board meeting. Instead, Leach will read a
statement explaining why the union has decided not to pick a single
winner this year....

That coincided with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's first pitch for
merit pay for public-school teachers. His proposal has met with strong
opposition from some teachers around California and from a key state
education official.

"We decided that choosing one among us as the best is similar to merit pay," Leach said.

This reminds me of Bill Gates's Life Lesson #8:

Your school may have done away
with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished
failing grades; they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right
answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Except, perhaps, teaching.  More on teachers and their union here and here and here.


  1. Chris Fritz:

    Back when I was in high school, there was a teachers strike for a couple of weeks. Teachers that did a wonderful job in the classroom were on strike and teachers that did a horrible job in the classroom were on strike. Both good and bad teachers were striking for more money.

    Who would be against paying a good teacher more and a bad teacher less? It can't be the good teachers, can it? That's like being against getting a raise when they worked really hard, and above and beyond their expectations as a teacher as well as beyond the work of their peers. And now they aren't even being recognized for their achievements in the classroom at this one school? Oy...

    Who would be against paying more money to someone who does more and better work, and less money to someone who slacks off and doesn't teach very well? If there are more teachers in such a union than there are teachers not in the union, then that's really terrifying. When workers feel everyone should be equal in everything, rather than graded on performance, then that's terrifying. (Of course, my middle school dropped the letter grade system for the "fail, pass, exceed", which equally graded Timmy who solved one bonus math problem and Julie who solved all 20 bonus math problems, so I got used to it early on.)

  2. Matt:

    The easiest way to judge the quality of a teacher is to mention the teacher's union to them and see how they react. If it reminds you of Superman hearing a mention of kryptonite, chances are you've got someone good.

  3. Michael H.:

    Hi Coyote
    This is an interesting post. I think it is sad but inevitable that selecting someone for special praise is considered politically incorrect for the teacher's union.
    I should point out that the list of Bill Gates life lessons is a hoax. Bill Gates never wrote anything like that. See snopes:

  4. michaela:

    Bad thing about you conservatives is you seem to like watching other people fail, and you hate any working american who plainly asks for fair game rules.
    At the same time, you don't feel any simmilar hate for the many INCOMPETENT Fortunate Sons that look at us all from above, as if they'd earned something with great work and sacrifice, while they try to squeeze the less fortunate into an irreversible state of poverty, with declining salaries, until they will get the times of slavery back.
    And you call yourselves Christians, for Christ's sake!

  5. Alina:

    Actually, I call myself Jewish... but that's neither here nor there.

    As for the quote not from Bill Gates, that's the problem I have with most special education. (Most of the middle class special needs kids I see have the special need of being both middle class and not at the top of their class, ergo there must be a medical problem). So the school lets you take a longer time for a test. Does anyone want a surgeon who needs more time to make a decision and take action? Or a lawyer arguing your case who can't read a motion fast enough to lodge the correct response? Or even a taxi driver who can't tell left from right? When you facilate the success of people who are not up to the task, where does that leave those of us who then have to deal with them?

  6. Mark A:

    Declaring winners and losers is not an assurance of outcomein todays political/economic environment. Winning does not always help. A successful peducational program is not even safe. What Bill can help, local government can hurt... check this out:

    Gates Scholars to lose their Alma Mater?

    What is going on in Richmond and this world when bureaucrats are trying to ruin the most successful school the area has ever seen?

    details at http://gatesscholarsmaylosealmamater