I've blogged in the past about how politicians in both parties say they want good teachers and then do everything possible to drive educators to change careers. The latest example of this trend is found in my sweet hometown of Chicago. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) have opted not to extend a contract with its teachers that would have given them a raise of 3%. Instead, CPS has said it will ask teachers to take a 7% cut in pay. Mayor Emanuel is quoted in today's Chicago Sun-Times that teachers are "working hard" and that schools are achieving "incredible results." At the same time, the mayor cites "serious fiscal challenges" as a reason for CPS' actions. Teacher's union president Karen Lewis call this action an "insult." There is good chance that the teachers could be forced to go on strike again.
For me, the real problem in this story is how it will affect teaching in the future. If we really want the best and brightest students to go into teaching, we need to think about how they react to stories like this. What intelligent, ambitious student would pursue a career that would cut the pay of people the mayor calls hard working and successful? Politicians and citizen need to ask themselves a difficult question: Do we care about saving a few dollars in taxes or educating children?
Some people say always at the end.
Some say always at the beginning.
I say: "Be suspicious of people who say 'always.'" They usually follow rules without having any reason for doing so.
I put education where it does the most to help a client look like a highly qualified candidate. In most cases where a client has relevant experience, education goes last. However, if a candidate has recently received a new degree or certificate that enhances her marketability, why not put that information first? Similarly, most new graduates should have education as the first element on their resume because that is their primary selling point. But this is not always the case. Some new graduates have worked while in school and have relevant experience. In those cases, education should be placed after experience.
My simple rule is: What does the employer want to see? Put those elements first.
Conservatives and Neoliberals often blame unemployment on the skills gap, the claim that jobs are open because workers are not able to fill them. Paul Krugman takes this claim apart by pointing to the most deadly thing of all – facts. Using economic data and a tool called the Beveridge Curve, Krugman shows that the rate of unemployed based on skills is its usual rate. Rather than blaming workers for not being skilled, shouldn’t we be debating better ways to train workers and educate students? Shouldn’t we be talking about how to invest in the future?
Diane Ravitch reports bad news about education in Detroit. 26 schools will be closed, and teachers’ pay will be cut by 10%. What angers me about this report is that Governor Rick Snyder and his allies preach the school “reform” line. They put the blame for poor education outcomes on teachers. Then they take measures that make good teachers want to leave the profession. The decision to make the cut was made by the city’s Dicta. . . Emergency Manager, who is a puppet of the Governor. Best wishes to the parents and children in Detroit. What is happening in your city is a crime against democracy – and common sense.
Every job posting asks for a combination of experience, knowledge, skill, and education. Another way to think about this is "weight." The employer wants to know that you can carry the load of a given job. For example, an entry level job will ask for less weight than one that looks for 3-5 years experience or a background supervising or training employees. In writing your resume or presenting yourself at an interview, you need to be able to show how and why you are qualified to do the job. Look carefully at job posts for positions you are seeking and identify the kind of weight the employer is seeking. Show that you can carry the load.
Anyone familiar with Diane Ravitch’s writing knows she is on the political left. That said, her latest article does a great job of showing how our political and economic decisions are linked to education. Whatever your political views, I recommend that you consider her views and how they impact both students you care about and how they impact your tax dollars. As Ravitch points out, jobs are also at issue. As long as Americans are competing with workers in developing nations that earn much less, jobs will continue to outsourced. Ravitch, like a good teacher, helps us connect the dots.
Today saw a second straight disappointing month for job growth. The number again is positive, but not strong enough. Common Dreams has posted an article by Michelle Chen that looks beyond the monthly numbers. Chen, a writer at In These Times, lays bare the mainstream media lie that workers are to blame for unemployment because they have the wrong skills. Citing a study from the Economic Policy Institute, she finds that workers of all education levels are struggling in the current market. Chen concludes that the real gap is one of understanding. People who claim that skills are the problem do not know how the economy works.
I would add to Chen’s analysis by noting that many fields have been glutted by intense marketing from universities, colleges, and training programs. Professions that once had easy entry know have more applicants than open positions, which lets employers drive down salary costs. My simple take is that good jobs are hard to find and getting harder to find all the time. Employers have the upper hand, and they know it, which means wages will continue to stay flat or go down until real job growth happens. Given the attitude of both business and government, we might be in this negative cycle for a long time to come.
Just as some people change fire alarm batteries at the fall time change, the New Year is a good time to look at your resume and update it. The first question to ask is if your resume still fits your career goals. Are you doing the same thing? Looking for a promotion? Attempting to change careers? If you’re not doing the same thing, your resume needs to change.
Even if you’re not making a major change in your career, the New Year is a good time to take stock of what you have accomplished in the past year. Before you edit the resume, make a list of your success stories from the last year. Compare these achievements to those currently listed on the resume. Refresh any dated material and add new elements. You don’t have to add everything you’ve accomplished over the past year. Add only those examples that make your resume stronger.
Finally, test important details that are easy to miss. Is your contact information (address, phone number, and email) correct? Have you learned any new software or technical skills that should be added? Have you completed any new education, training, or certification? Have you joined any professional groups? Give your resume one more good review. This time your goal is to take off any information that is dated or no longer relevant.
The New Year is a great time to plan and make changes. If you’re plans include career advancement or finding a new job, remember to refresh your resume.
Laura Clawson of Daily Kos is one of my favorite writers because she finds the stories others miss. Usually she focuses on labor. Today she looks at a new type of charter school that caters to predominantly white students whose families are not in poverty. While these schools are still technically public schools, they charge fees that shut out lower income students. As Clawson notes, such school will cherry pick higher performing students and drive down performance at traditional public schools.
I would like to know if this type of charter school pays it teachers better or offers better benefits. Non-union charters traditionally pay at a lower level than public schools, and teachers have no union protection. I would guess that a school looking to have elite students would have to invest in good teachers. My solution to this question is easy: Shut down the charters and put resources back into traditional public schools. Put education and children ahead of profits.
Writing in Common Dreams, Jim Horn, a Professor of Education at Cambridge College, examines Diane Ravitch in the light of her new book, Reign of Error: the Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools. Horn notes that this book has been widely reviewed and focuses on the author instead, calling her a whistleblower and truth teller. Ravitch, once a champion of education “reform,” has turned against corporate-based philosophies of education “reform.” Horn calls Ravitch, “the single individual who most influenced the eventual outcome if parents and teachers and students continue to heed the call for the restoration and renewal of public schools free of high stakes tests for all children who choose a high quality and free education.”
Horn’s critique underscores Ravitch’s importance not just to education, but to democracy and workers’ rights. A free society needs school systems that will be responsive to citizens, not the corporate elite. It also needs schools that promote more meritocracy, not selective schools or charter schools that cherry pick those students deemed to be “winners.” If we are to live up to the promise of America, we need schools that will be of the people, by the people, and for the people. Diane Ravitch has shown that, for all its flaws, the best vehicle to promote fair education is the public school.
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