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Cultivate good teachers

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I saw a comment on Facebook that said, “How we can save great teachers from antiquated ‘last in, first out’ policies.” I am not a specialist in education, but I have been a teacher for 40 years so I will add my two cents’ worth to the discussion. What I present applies primarily to K-12 education. The nature of the comment underlines the basic truth that “schools really don’t want good teachers, they want cheap teachers,” but I will address the issue of recruiting and retaining good teachers. To recruit and retain “good teachers” the first step is to define what a good teacher is so that they will understand expectations and leadership is clear about what they actually want in a teacher. The second would be reward them with security, pay, benefits, support and provide a work environment that is free from small-time politics, mismanagement and incompetent administrators that currently dominate. A third point would be to demonstrate that education is a valid and important career. Fourth: Leadership needs to consistently demonstrate support, empathy, ethics, understanding and most of all leadership needs to get out of the way so the teachers can do their job. Fifth: Stop evaluating teacher performance using methods that are biased on conditions that are outside the teacher’s control and instigated by politics. Sixth: Return to “lifetime credentials” and remove the political inspired requirements of current credentialing. Seventh: Stop the public tirades about, “How poor the teachers are, how overpaid teachers are, how teachers are bankrupting California and how lazy teachers are.” There is no better way to discourage new, well-qualified people from the career of teaching than to allow this insane line of discussion to continue. Maybe the true way to recruit and retain “good teachers” would be simply to value them in deed rather than “spin” politics. Martin Maeding, Weimar