Monday, April 25, 2011

Decline in teacher status traced to seniority rules

In a NY Times article titled Teachers Wonder, Why the Scorn?:
Chester E. Finn Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative-leaning education policy group, said the decline in teachers’ status traced to the success of unions in paying teachers and granting job security based on their years of service, not ability.
“They are reaping a bitter harvest that they didn’t individually plant but their profession has planted over 50 years, going from a respected profession to a mass work force in which everyone is treated as if they are interchangeable, as in the steel mills of yesteryear,” Mr. Finn said. 
As a school principal opposed to LIFO rules expressed to me recently, it's difficult to view teachers as true professionals with these types of work rules.


  1. Obviously this person hasn't read Laura Ingalls Wilder's account of her time as a teacher. It was already a clearly low status job back then.Most historians trace the decline in status of teaching to the mass entry of women into the field in the mid 1800's.

  2. Perhaps recruiting more men into teaching would be a way to raise the status.

  3. The seniority rules are viewed negatively by many, and I think awareness of this is increasing. I've gotta believe this is a significant factor in how teachers are viewed in terms of status.

  4. I think this is a very recent phenomenon, taking hold only in the last 2 years or so. The low status of teaching is much older than that. In fact, I think the seniority rules reflect the low status rather than cause it. The seniority rules are very similar to those in other fields in which workers are seen as interchangeable widgets rather than professionals. They evolved as a way to protect low status workers who had little other power.