Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Lynnell Mickelsen's big problem

She doesn't get to make firing decisions for the Minneapolis schools
Mickelsen got another one of her anecdotal anti-teacher screeds in the Strib. I was curious about her organization, so I sent her a message about Put Kids First Minneapolis, and its supporters. This was her reply:
We're just a small group of passionate, pissed-off parents and citizens.
Well, indeed. Note that she didn't say informed.

Lynnell is Exhibit A in why the civil service exists in the first place. Never underestimate the ability of a small group of bug-eyed control freak citizens to make life a living hell for just about anybody.

This is exactly what Lynnell wants the ability to do. You see, every teacher knows a Lynnell or two, and it is one of the reasons teachers are so leery about giving up tenure and seniority. If the Lynnells of the world take the notion that the teacher is the reason that Johnny is such an ignorant fool -- and never mind the role of the Lynnells in raising the aforesaid ignorant fool -- then nothing will do but to get rid of the teacher.

And if the choleric Lynnells shows up at the principal's office, machete in hand often enough, well, the principal might just be tempted to cut the teacher loose. Especially if the principal (no pun intended) tool of evaluation is some high stakes test that makes the teacher look like a champ one year and a chump the next.

It used to happen with regularity a generation ago. And if Lynnell has her way, it will again.

Everybody thinks that he or she is the boss of public employees. But giving the Lynnells their way will not improve education; it will actually harm it, and it surely will make teaching less attractive as a profession. The Lynnells won't attract the best and the brightest; they will drive them away.

Her little homily -- and her self-description to me -- illustrate that quite well.

But we need to ask the Lynnells some questions: how much time have you actually spent in a classroom; have you every offered to volunteer, say weekly, in your child's classroom; do you know how many of your child's classmates come to school hungry or from homeless shelters; have you ever asked the principal or teachers at your kids' school how you can help; have you done any reflection on your role in your kids' failures; have your ever gone to a school board meeting, or ran for school board? If you did, why didn't you win?

But here's my favorite: how come you're so smart and the entire education establishment is so stupid?

Oh, and here's one more. Parents United for Public Schools is registered as a lobbying organization. Why isn't Put Kids First Minneapolis? If you've been around a while, you have undoubtedly crossed the expense threshold.

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