July 29th, 2010

Paul Vallas in New Orleans
Paul Vallas Series Podcast: He changed the way, but for how long?

( Click here to download the podcast )

Paul Vallas has changed a lot in New Orleans over the last three years, especially for teachers. He’s given the schools under his jurisdiction more autonomy, letting principals hire and fire their own staff; he’s taken the “wind out of the sails” of the teacher’s union; and he’s hired about 500 Teach for America teachers - more than any other district has in TFA’s history. He’s changed the way New Orleans thinks about teaching - but will Vallas’ reforms remain after he moves on?

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I just listened to this podcast and found it disturbingly Orewellian. Did he really say that teachers should leave the profession before they have a family? That such things “cause a distraction.” Does he really think that a constant churn of inexperienced (albeit smart and well meaning) teachers, is the ideal design for the teaching profession. Is he simply desirous of having a workforce who would never know enough to question authority? I have often wondered if the new “reformers” plan for the teaching profession was - Teach for America, not as a stop gap, but as the total solution. At least Mr. Vallas comes out and says it straight, but is is frightening that a person with this attitude has any influence on education anywhere.

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