It's unusual that a single article exposes what we're dealing with here in New York, not with one, but with two quotes that make your blood just boil. See below for what I wrote a couple of hours ago about the great pseudo-defender of teacher rights, and now a few words about one of the pioneers of America's new caste system."In the private sector, cash incentives are a proven motivator for producing results,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “The most successful employees work harder, and everyone else tries to figure out how they can improve as well."True enough in his line of work, but not in ours. In fact, I can think of many kinds of jobs where a little more cash can crank up the volume to get a few more things done. Telephone marketing, cross-country trucking, manual labor, to name a few. Many of us including myself would certainly go for cash bonuses if we were doing any of these worthy jobs.
But not teaching — or for that matter, healthcare, or manning an emergency room, or putting out fires. These jobs are not done "better," and we are not more "successful" at them, with cash incentives.
For all his intellect, Bloomberg’s sociopathic soul always shines through the vacuous remarks he makes about how to educate kids. His corporate world is riddled with white-collar crime, yet he wants to hold businesses in “the private sector” up to us as models of good institutions with worthy goals. There's no match here, as much as he says there is.
It's hard to believe that the man actually doesn't know what being a "successful employee" is in the field of education, or how educators measure their own successes. We certainly don't rate ourselves by tests or seek rewards for what we do well in the form of cash.
A "successful" teacher holds the room together with most kids on task when they’ve all just come in a huge variety of moods, from deeply depressed, to hungry, to love-starved, angry, ready to work, jealous, giggly, pre-occupied, fearful, and downright horny. A successful teacher can turn an apathetic expression into a moment of joy, like when a student “gets” a concept he’d been having trouble with a second before. That’s a “eureka” moment worth its weight in gold.
Success means when parents and teachers work together to change aberrant behaviors and help students take control of the harmful things they do to themselves and to others. A successful teacher can reverse a bad attendance record. Sometimes success means just the ability to survive in overcrowded classrooms with no textbooks or inadequate equipment — which, trust me, won’t get fixed even when they get around to lowering the numbers by one or two bodies or putting a few extra dollars towards extra computers or more Snapple machines. And it means being able to turn kids away from gang-think, and get them to see there are other kinds of worlds that would serve them better.
Sure, we have notions of success that are similar to Bloomberg’s, like acing a test, or giving a relatively error-free performance, or even just graduating from high school. How could we not, having been through the educational mill ourselves and enjoyed these kinds of successes.
But their world, the corporate one he holds up as a model, is deeply flawed, and no one should be buying into those limited and possibly fraudulent notions of “success” that revolve around test scores and silent submission to administrative directives that don't make sense.
The savings-and-loan corporations of the 80s, Enron, Arbusto Energy, ChoicePoint, Blackwater, subprime lenders: these are some of the greatest “success” stories in Bloomberg’s corporate world — before the muckraking, that is, and before some of the directors got caught and put in jail. People get “successfully” rich working in these kinds of institutions all along the way, and when they're particularly clever, they get to keep their assets even when they serve hard time. That must be a super mark of success. And you could say that politicos and lobbyists like DeLay, Frist and Abramoff were supremely successful at what they did as well, though they dragged the country through the mud.
But to educators, these companies and what these players are all about are some of the most destructive and immoral by-products of capitalism in America.
“I am a capitalist,” Bloomberg says according to the article in Ny1, which means he swims comfortably in these same murky waters.
This is not good for the education of our kids, and because he is unethical at heart and ruthless, we're not saying anything he doesn't already know.