There is a war of television commercials for and against the elimination of seniority as a factor in the firing of New York City teachers. In fact, there are so many commercials it’s hard to keep track of them. But one does stick in my mind because of a parent in the commercial who speaks out against seniority. Specifically, she says that “we need fresh teachers in the classroom.”
Now, I know what fresh vegetables are. I know what fresh milk is. I know what fresh paint is. But I l do not know what a “fresh” teacher is! My guess is it is someone right out of college – someone young. Not old. Even though an “old” teacher with – say – 20 years experience might be only 45 years old. Hardly ancient by any reasonable person’s standards. Nevertheless, if a person has been in front of a classroom for less years than it takes to qualify for tenure, that commercial would have you believe he or she is old, dried-up, decrepit, not fit to hold a piece of chalk.
Never mind that with years of teaching comes experience, and with experience comes wisdom, and with wisdom comes the ability to help children learn. Most “fresh” teachers don’t know where the faculty toilets are until their second or third year of teaching. They can barely survive the everyday strain of the public-school system. And many of them do not survive it. That is why the majority of“ fresh” teachers do not make it past their 4th or 5th year of being in the classroom. When things really start to get tough, most of them run out of the building as if their hair were on fire, and they stay out for good.
Who would want a doctor “fresh” out of medical school to perform brain surgery on him or her as opposed to one with 20 years experience? Probably not the parent in the commercial. Yet, when it comes to filling her child’s brain with knowledge, experience doesn’t count? “Fresh” is what matters? Seems to me she had too many “fresh” teachers when she was in school and not enough experienced ones. Perhaps she should go back to school along with her kid, and this time make sure she gets a teacher who knows what he or she is doing.
Yes – that’s right – an experienced teacher, because “fresh” is for vegetables, not people.