Regarding Paul Peterson’s assertion that The Public Turns Against Teacher Tenure
Our country was founded on the commoditization of public spaces. First natives were exploited for their pelts and lands, soon came timber and agriculture, all on what was once a pristine public space. Peterson’s arguments are a clever dialogical attempt to lead the public in the direction of the full commoditization of, what some would consider the final frontier of yet public space, our school system. A closer look at his arguments reveals flawed assumptions. He touts a recent online survey by The Harvard Program on Education. He breaks down all the facts and figures as ammunition to use against the teacher unions which he characterizes as “bitterly, arguing”. Catering to the ideologues that want to erode the ability of unions so they may impose any labor practice they wish as seen in the maquiladoras along the border when manufacturing jobs were shifted to Mexico after NAFTA, Peterson runs the numbers as evidence that the public is turning against teacher tenure. His flawed logic implies that the public was ever for teacher tenure. Does he have any empirical data from before? Instead he has used the racist concept of the bell curve as the foundation of his, and the neoliberal agenda to weaken the position of public school teachers. It stands to reason that if five categories of grades were given, A-F, the public, colleagues included, would feel obliged to put some teachers in every category, otherwise why would we need a grade system. Later the true aim of their “reform” is revealed when he relates teacher performance to the rise of our GDP. Arguing that tenure should be tied to student performance again only serves the business interest in creating their vision of worker/consumer. Tenure based on standardized test’s outcomes only demonstrate an ability to transfer knowledge. Teaching is about creating the environment and relationships where value can be created. Knowing facts about a standard does not create value. Facts are only important when seen from the perspective of how do they relate to human life. Simply, knowledge of venom can be used to make poison or medicine; knowledge is not nearly as important as the wisdom and moral character to use knowledge constructively. Teacher tenure is a privilege reserved for those willing to put in the time, day after day on the front lines of education for all, even those without internet access and/or green cards. Rather than hiding behind the names Harvard and Hoover Peterson should reveal his position as an economist promoting the agendas of Eli Broad and Kenneth Griffin, both high donors to Harvard, as they seek to do what they have always done, make money off of someone else’s money. Espousing the virtue of a market that they don’t really believe in as seen in the “too big to fail” derivatives market debacles. Peterson is a political scientist that should stay out of the more pure realm of education.