Thursday, March 29, 2007

Buenos Aires, Argentina: UNESCO blasts Latin American teachers

UNESCO, about the only UN organization that gains any respect at all from the US government, says this about education in Latin America.
Many in the teacher's profession are to be criticized for excessive "corporatismo" (unionism) and through this (unionism) they concentrate their demands on better salaries, they tend to reject performance evaluations, they don't seem seriously dedicated to improving the education of their students and they don't take any responsibility for poor educational performance.
Amen to that, although UNESCO could also be describing the US's NEA as well as Sección 22 and the SNTE. While the boulder I just tossed at the NEA is richly deserved, let me make it perfectly clear that I am well aware that the educational system in the USA cannot be compared to anyone's to our immediate south, or further south, for that matter.

An old friend of mine once made a comment about unions and union contracts that bears remembering. He said, "There was never one single contract signed with one single union in the entire history of the organized labor movement which was not also signed by one management team or another. There were always two sides to the table and never was just one side present at any contract signing" UNESCO, meeting in Buenos Aires, also recognized this and did not hold back on its criticism of Latin American governments' responsibilities for their horrendous educational systems.
Governments have adopted education policies, in the short term, which result in a conspiratorial relationship between teachers unions and governments which yield salary increases and massive amounts spent on training (more days off from the classrooms).

This results in insufficient salary schemes with little public oversight, in a teaching career linked to seniority, in a passive role for individual teachers and a weak dedication to performance as well as the poor education of their students.
UNESCO proposes (don't hold your breath) the following:

1. Governments must create systems, processes and transparent (oversight) mechanisms for evaluation and accreditation of their colleges of education as well as have the competency of graduates certified by an outside and independent entity.

2. Tutorial systems must be set up to help new teachers confront their classrooms (I'll drink to that), improve teacher performance and convert the colleges of education to professional development centers.

3. Governments must create some sort of performance rating system for prospective new teachers (something other than "Pass/Fail") as well as link starting salaries to that performance rating.

4. Governments must institute teacher salary policies that are subject to oversight and are directly dependent on student performance.

5. When millions of teachers throughout Latin America take to the streets, from Mexico City to Santiago, Chile, in protest of having to actually teach somebody something in order to receive their outrageous pay increases and thereby bringing the economies of various countries and states to a grinding halt, shoot them all, especially in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Just kidding about that last one.

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