The former head of New York’s public schools has called for a “reform of the way we deal with students in a high-stakes and demanding profession”.
Rochester-based teacher John McManus said the issue was not a question of teaching but of “reforming” schools.
“The problem is that we have teachers who, as a profession, are supposed to be able to think through the student’s problems, to listen to the student and to understand the student,” he said.
“We don’t do that.
We don’t talk to students about what’s happening in their lives and we don’t listen to them.”
In many ways, the students themselves are the problem.
“Mr McManuses, a retired high school principal, made the comments during a speech to the National Education Association (NEA) conference in Washington DC.
The former school board president, who served in the administration of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, is the author of The Schools, the Schools and the Nation: Why New York City Needs a Reform of the Way We Deal with Students in a High-stakes, and Critical, Profession.
In the speech, he said the state’s schools had become too focused on academics and were not addressing students’ real needs.”
A student in the ninth grade might get a good-paying job, or a great-paying position, and he might be graduating with a high school diploma,” he told the conference.”
But then his life changes because he is the subject of a teacher’s visit.
“What happens in the classroom, how you approach the student, and how you interact with him is a critical, strategic part of what we teach and what we’re trying to get done.”
The New York State Education Department did not respond to an inquiry from RTE.
Mr McMenus said he believes New York was in the “last throes of a crisis” when it enacted reforms in the 1990s.
“As we came out of the recession, the schools that were left in the worst shape were the ones with the highest teacher turnover,” he explained.
“And that was because teachers had to go to the suburbs.”
If you have a high turnover, that means that you have teachers that are very good, and those teachers have to be replaced.
“The governor has been criticised for his controversial school system reforms, which he says have made New York safer and more affordable.
He is also in the midst of a campaign to reform New York schools, which have struggled with high teacher turnover.
But Mr McMenuses believes he is at the “pre-reform stage” of the reform debate.”
To me, the most important thing is that the system works.””
I think they are trying to create a different, more diverse school system.”
To me, the most important thing is that the system works.