Thursday, June 7, 2012

Standing Up Down Under

            Fascinating development in the state of Victoria, Australia, today. Twenty-five thousand teachers stayed home from schools; and 15,000 of them marched in protest on Parliament, supported and even joined by many of their principals. This means 150 schools were closed by the strike, about which families had been informed beforehand.
                The reason? The government wanted to give the teachers a potential pay raise based on based on merit. I’ll let two teachers speak for themselves. The first: “It’s very divisive to talk about performance pay cuts, particularly when you’re dealing with children. They are not products; we’re not part of a corporate empire and I’m here to support my colleagues and really to get justice for the students.” The second: “There’s no research basis to performance pay and really what we’re trying to do in schools is work as teams to improve student outcomes. It’s not going to work with performance pay.” (Somewhere Dan Pink is smiling.)
                No telling how long the strike will continue. I suspect not that long, as these are educators who clearly care first and foremost about the kids, and they wouldn't want them caught in the middle of an adult dispute. In any event, for a few days kids may not be learning much of the explicit curriculum. But they may learn some really important lessons about what matters and standing up for it.

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