Monday, December 18, 2006

France's Teachers on Strike.

Today, there was a strike in France (here in French). Ok, I know,… what else is new? Yes, strikes and demonstrations seem to be part of France’s raison d’être. But actually the reason is often that unfortunately, if you want the government to listen to you in France, you often need to let them know loud and clear and the only way to do that is to go on strike, demonstrate and "walk the street for money". (here's an illustration). Both unions and politicians seem incapable of holding real talks and the blame falls on everybody.

So what is it this time? Well, to make a gross simplification – the government wants teachers to work more and get paid less. As you can imagine that does not go too well. In fact, this hass been the largest strike of teachers in France since 1998 (between 35% and 50% depending on the source)

But there are deeper concerns – in the last few years, teachers have seen their working conditions deteriorate and their buying power decrease and on top of everything else, they have often been smeared by politicians both on the left and the right in the last few years.

Paying teachers well may be more important than you think if you want quality teachers.

NPR had a recent segment on this:

A new study by education researchers concludes that the best way to improve the quality of teaching is to pay teachers more. And to pay good teachers even more.

I couldn’t agree more. But the question is how do you assess a teacher’s performance? You can probably figure out those who are really bad, but what about the rest of them? Certainly looking strictly at test results is not an option. So much depends on other things (like social backgrounds) that have little to do with the teacher.

So what about the teacher’s performance in the classroom? Yes, that seems the best way. But the problem is that you need people to do that…. so do you ask other teachers? How does it work out? The problem is that no matter what, the results are likely to be too subjective and unreliable.

I am all for changing things and for assessing teachers’ performances. I just haven't been able to figure out how and nobody seems to have either.


At 07:07, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, it's always difficult to assess someone when the issue is not based on productivity.


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