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Campbell Brown: Teachers Unions Go to Bat for Sexual Predators -

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By resisting almost any change aimed at improving our public schools, teachers unions have become a ripe target for reformers across the ideological spectrum. Even Hollywood, famously sympathetic to organized labor, has turned on unions with the documentary "Waiting for 'Superman'" (2010) and a feature film, "Won't Back Down," to be released later this year. But perhaps most damaging to the unions' credibility is their position on sexual misconduct involving teachers and students in New York schools, which is even causing union members to begin to lose faith.

In the last five years in New York City, 97 tenured teachers or school employees have been charged by the Department of Education with sexual misconduct. Among the charges substantiated by the city's special commissioner of investigation—that is, found to have sufficient merit that an arbitrator's full examination was justified—in the 2011-12 school year:

• An assistant principal at a Brooklyn high school made explicit sexual remarks to three different girls, including asking one of them if she would perform oral sex on him.

• A teacher in Queens had a sexual relationship with a 13-year old girl and sent her inappropriate messages through email and Facebook.

If this kind of behavior were happening in any adult workplace in America, there would be zero tolerance. Yet our public school children are defenseless.


This is insanity. How can we never learn to protect our children? This both saddens and upsets me greatly.

Teachers, like any other public servants, need to be beyond reproach.

It's interesting that the public school system is under assault from every direction.

With great power comes great responsibility.

Besides two formative years at Montessori schools, Ive spent my entire education in the public school system. It seems like its a states problem being addressed as a national problem without tangible state-based solutions. No Child Left Behind seemed to intend to address this problem through rewards, incentives, and punishments; however, it's effectiveness -- or lack thereof -- is of course hotly debated.

Much of the debate, in my opinion, comes from an inability to properly define our goals. We need to think about a problem wholistically, determine our goals, and create proper mechanisms to reach those goals. And we must protect our children.

In a seeing oh bifurcated country, it's an interesting challenge to imagine states or the nation at-large agreeing to one encompassing vision. In this, china and other countries -- especially the BRIC nations -- have a distinct advantage: unilateral decision making authority.

Actually, what are the goals of education in the U.S.?

Protecting our children is a good one.

Beyond that, I'm not quite sure.

Exactly. And I think that's much of the problem. We have no common goals and therefore we struggle to assess and measure our efficacy at creating a successful educational system.

What should our goal be?

That's a good question.

This is my basic creed:

I believe every man, woman, and child in is country should have the opportunity to truly live, freely, while pursuing happiness. I believe everyone deserves an opportunity to pursue their dreams and make the best use of their abilities while having a fair shot to provide for their family.

I believe that we need to support folks in the skilled-labor workforce, business workers, entrepreneurs -- both small business owners and venture-backed businesses, and research and higher learning. In addition, of course, we need the best and most qualified public servants to serve in policy, law enforcement, and in the military.

Therefore, we need appropriate tracks in nine key areas: vocational, maths and sciences, Arts, Business, entrepreneurship, health and medicine, law and policy, military and law enforcement, and manufacturing.

Allow students to choose a track by the time they turn 16-years-old, and eschew all other disciplines to focus on their track. Through the use of online resources and local community colleges, people would always have the opportunity -- as they do now -- to re-train and switch fields.

Students would receive a general education by the time they are 16, learning basic science, math, english, history, and economics. Essentially cutting down our standards to the current high school sophomore level, before students move on to said-chosen path. A law and policy maker might not necessarily learn maths and sciences beyond what two years of high school science might provide; given that often times, through lack of practice, they might forget much of that information anyways. Cut state-related and state university bachelor programs to 2-years, which will reduce costs for students, double the amount of students a university could handle, and allow more students than ever to obtain a bachelors degree. As students would have focused on their intended field of study since 16-years-old, they'd graduate with a bachelors at roughly 20-years-old and have saved both the state, and themselves, thousands of dollars of debt.

Those pursuing medicine, law, and research would still have an opportunity to pursue this after obtaining a bachelors degree; howeve, with two years of full-time study from 16-18, they would be able to go directly from high school to pursue a professional degree -- in MBA, law, or medicine -- again saving the student thousands of dollars of debt and opening more spots for students pursuing military, business, arts, and pure maths and sciences.

These are just some thoughts.

(Also, please excuse my grammar on this thread. iPad issues)

No worries on grammar -- that's a big vision!

It's compelling but it feels like the majority of people in education today will resist such a shift.

The failure of No Child Left Behind means people will be even more resistant to big changes.

Maybe the solution really is fragmentation bottom-up, rather than restructuring top-down?

I agree that people are resistant to major policy changes, for better or for worse.

Heck, people are mercilessly attacking Salman Khan and he isn't even shifting policy or threatening to change top-down.

The natural obstruction is money and power. Apple and Dropbox, are, in my opinion, the best business examples of bottom-up approaches that an unseat entrenched players. I believe Salman Khan's model is doing this education; it'll just take decades longer to get to where we could get if we made a massive change now.

I compare it to the change of orchestras to blind auditions, referenced in Blink. Sometimes you need massive changes and bold visions to really advance things, rather than slow changes (blog posts about more women in tech! Hooray)


It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.

So you believe in revolution more than evolution?

Yes. It's a time thing. Evolution takes orders of magnitudes longer, historically speaking, to get things right.

Let's put it this way, if we documented the second derivative of the number of blog posts about some noble cause -- lets say women in technology and venture capital -- against the second derivative of the actual number of women in technology and venture capital, which number would be greater?

Evolution is writing blog posts hoping for things to get better.

Revolution is seizing the day and forcing things to get better.

No one can force things to get better.

Teach people to long for the endless immensity of the sea.

Well, the orchestras would not have changed willingly. They were forced to adapt. I think much change comes by force.

I don't believe much change comes by force, but I'm from the school of Gandhi and MLK.

Perhaps it's just semantics, then. I appreciate the school of gandhi and MLK.

In my opinion, they forced non-violent means, but by force nonetheless. They forced the issue of colonialism and civil rights, respectively. Else it would have lingered on the national subconscious...

I never thought of their courage, leadership, and tenacity as force, but I see why you're calling it that.

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