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Are Young Teachers Better Than Older Ones?

Original post made by Wendy on Jun 8, 2009

In an editorial in The Pleasanton Weekly Jeb Bing writes, "The tax would have saved the 127 of 148 jobs that are on the line, which includes 108 certificated teachers (some of the districts youngest and brightest)..."
I'm interested in the fact that he thinks youth makes a teacher more valuable. I haven't noticed that younger teachers are better than older teachers. Have you?

Comments (42)

Posted by Me Too, a resident of Canyon Creek
on Jun 8, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Its like every other profession, you have good and bad employees at every age.

But where the idea comes from about the youth is from a couple different areas, but mainly that they may (at least appear to) have more energy and enthusiasm and the students might feel they can relate to a younger teacher (perhaps much more so at the high school level).

Just as experience counts for a lot, a fresh point of view can often be welcomed.

Posted by AVHS Dad, a resident of Stoneridge Park
on Jun 8, 2009 at 3:05 pm

AVHS Dad is a registered user.

Our son started Mohr it's first year of operation as a Kindergartener. His teacher was in her last year or so before retirement and had obviously checked out. Our first meeting she told us out of the blue that he was "not gifted". Then at the next meeting she apparently had forgotten her initial impression and told us that he "was gifted". His first grade teacher was "young" but VERY disorganized. In second grade he was mostly taught by subs as the "teacher" had personal problems all year. His 3rd grade teacher was convinced he was ADD or ADHD, I don't remember which. We went private school for 4th through 8th and haven't regretted it at all. His teachers at Amador, young or old, have been terrific!

Posted by Randy, a resident of Livermore
on Jun 8, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Can't speak about the old teachers because I have only dated the young female teachers but I think they are pretty good.

Posted by Stu Gazzo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2009 at 5:13 pm

I'm surprised that anyone would still read or believe anything that Jeb Bing would write after the "crap" he pulled early-on in the Parcel Tax debate. I'm surprised he still has a job with the PW.

Posted by PToWN94566, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2009 at 7:15 pm

PToWN94566 is a registered user.

I agree with what the first poster stated- as in all professions, you're going to have the good and the bad at any age. The young people might not have a lot of experience under their belt after attaining their credential. I'm 28 and began working with children when I was 18- a few weeks ago in one of my classes, all but three other people had either a year or less of experience. The class I was in was full of credential students while I'm finishing up my B.A. That was a bit shocking seeing that all these people are going to try and get a teaching job this coming fall. Other ideas that have floated through my head are the younger teachers still wanting to be young- I've seen some PUSD teachers out at bars during the week. This doesn't seem all that logical as they have to teach in less than 12 hours.

As for the older teachers, from what I have seen they aren't always up to date on proper instruction. I saw one teacher at Mohr try and instruct in a way that suggested she was schooled in the '70s. I've seen some teachers behave and teach in a way that treats every students needs the same. And as AVHS dad said, some have even checked out and seem to be there just to get in enough years to receive the maximum amount of retirement.

Posted by Sheila, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2009 at 9:13 pm

My kids have never cared about a teacher's age, only that the teacher treats them with respect. There are a lot of shaming teachers out there, of all ages. I heard a young Pleasanton kindergarten teacher say to her students, "Did we all leave our brains at home today?"

Posted by Bobby, a resident of Del Prado
on Jun 8, 2009 at 9:44 pm

I do not know if the young or old ones are best but I can tell you if they got rid of the union which protects the poor performers they would all be much better for fear of losing their jobs due to low performance like the rest of us do.

Posted by Parent of Two, a resident of Val Vista
on Jun 8, 2009 at 9:54 pm

Parent of Two is a registered user.

The problem is that QUALITY was not one of the criteria used to determine who got laid off. It was union seniority, meaning the young teachers got canned, and the old teachers were kept.

Posted by mom of teen, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2009 at 10:17 pm

I don't think young teachers are better than older ones at all. I think teenagers see the younger ones as being more "cool" or "laid back", but that doesn't necessarily mean they got a better education from that teacher.

Posted by teacher in the middle, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2009 at 10:40 pm

I'm a high school teacher in the middle of her career, and this is an "issue" that I've been pondering a lot lately. I can honestly say that I love teaching every bit as much as I did when I first started. My passion for the job has not diminished at all, and I believe I'm even more effective in the classroom than I was 5 years ago.

What HAS changed, though, is my ability to make connections with kids outside of the classroom. In my first couple of years, I was involved in several different extra-curricular activities that took 10-20 hours a week above and beyond teaching. Now, it's much tougher to justify spending so much time helping with other peoples' kids, when my own children need volunteers to step up and coach a sport, be a class mom, run a girl scout troop, etc.

My hope is that the community still values what I have to offer, even if I don't have as many hours to give as I used to!

Posted by Me, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Jeb, when visiting a surgeon, would you want the fresh new one, or the one with experience? Sometimes younger teachers seem great, because they connect with the kids. Being your kids friends is not however what they are paid to do. They are paid to teach.

Posted by 2ME4U, a resident of Birdland
on Jun 9, 2009 at 2:39 pm

Never was said, what was said is some of the best and brightest, not all of the best and brightest. I went to Walnut Grove, Harvest Park, and Amador. I'd say if I had to generalize I'd say the younger ones were better. Better at relating, better at remembering how it was as a child, less set in their ways, less apt to hand out the same old assignments and test and more passionate and eager to instill passion. A generalization of course.

Posted by Michael, a resident of Country Fair
on Jun 9, 2009 at 4:57 pm


you ever do anything after graduating from Amador other than just hanging around on your computer complaining about anything and everything? Oh I bet you have some high paying job..........yea right!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jun 9, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Is the question just another way to ask if it's better to be dead than alive?

Posted by Ellen, a resident of Val Vista
on Jun 9, 2009 at 6:07 pm

I have 4 children that are in various grades or have graduated. I would make a generalization that the more effective teachers have been the younger teachers. There are, of course, exceptions. I've found particularly at the elementary level the younger teachers are more knowledgeable about current teaching methods and ways to help children that may have special needs.

Posted by Jean, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2009 at 6:28 pm

Never was said??? I have a hard copy of The Pleasanton Weekly right in front of me, and it says"...some of the YOUNGEST and brightest."

Posted by GetRealAlready!, a resident of Downtown
on Jun 9, 2009 at 8:28 pm

It's been said, by someone who was quite wise, probably because he/she had the years and experience behind their words that teaching is often the profession EVERYONE "thinks" they know about because everyone has been in school sometime in their life. In order to be successful, especially in this current society, being a teacher takes a lot of commitment and energy beyond what most people might consider is even close to being "normal". Whether young or "seasoned", like all students, it's what the individual makes of it. There are the good and bad at every age in ALL professions. Wouldn't it be the "perfect" world if only all of us could do the ultimate best; aiming toward the highest standard, and doing what was right? Wait a minute...I think it was my "older" third-grade teacher who taught this to me? Or was it the young, fresh, full of the latest teaching ideas who did?

Posted by Mom of Hart student, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2009 at 8:27 am

The age of teacher does not make a good or bad teacher. I have found, through the years, that my kids learn the most with a teacher, any age, that teaches the subject with creativity. A teacher with hands on, compassionate teaching skills is the key. My kids learn so much in classes that are fun to go to and a teacher that cares and wants to teach what he or she teaches.

Posted by mom, a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Jun 10, 2009 at 8:32 am

The teachers with less tenure, who have had a terrific, positive impact on our children have been pink slipped while the teachers who are protected by unions, doing a very mediocre job at best, are still there. Every other non government job has some type of evaluation system based on performance etc. The number of years that you've managed to pack under your belt whether you are up to snuff or not should NOT be part of an evaluation. This is not to say that we don't have some of the best experienced tenured teachers in the area but there is always room for keeping teachers on their toes and doing their best instead of getting tired and counting the days, just because they can. This system is really broken...Those young award winning teachers will be snapped up around the country and too bad for Pleasanton school aged children...isn't that what it's all about?

Posted by Me Too, a resident of Canyon Creek
on Jun 10, 2009 at 8:48 am

"losing their jobs due to low performance like the rest of us do."

Have you ever tried to fire a professional in the work place for poor job performance? Its very difficult here in California (probably other states). Its much easier to try to get someone to quit.

Posted by Ken in South Pleasanton, a resident of Downtown
on Jun 10, 2009 at 8:52 am

Don't teachers regularly take days during the school year for in-service training (I may not have the term correct)? My impression is that the training is meant to keep teachers up-to-date with the latest teaching methods, etc. Seems like this would be a good way to help keep the 'older' teachers in touch with effective (rather than trendy) methods of teaching students and improving the learning experience.
Kudos to the teachers out there who keep up with their profession and inspire our children, regardless of their age or lack thereof.

Posted by Me Too, a resident of Canyon Creek
on Jun 10, 2009 at 8:57 am

"The number of years that you've managed to pack under your belt whether you are up to snuff or not should NOT be part of an evaluation."

Please don't tell me companies don't take age into consideration. Try firing someone (even for poor performance) who is 60 years old (protected class) and been with the company 25 years.

The difference in teaching is they can't hide lay off old people in a RIF whereas coporation can, do and offer big severence packages.

That being said, I do beleive our schools systems do not operate (in regards to keeping good teachers) in best way and there should be changes. My point is that the professional world is not as efficient and effective at dealing with this issues as people appear to be claiming.

Posted by Bobby, a resident of Del Prado
on Jun 10, 2009 at 9:05 am

Me too,

yes I have fired many a union worker and yes it takes time but you must be "willing to rock the craddle until you can put the baby to sleep".

Posted by Mom of Three, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2009 at 9:10 am

After spending many years, 1990 to 2008, with children in various Pleasanton schools, I can testify that it is well known by the school employees and volunteers who the horrible teachers are. Of course the administrations know, and they can not do anything about it because of the union contract. The system is broken in this regard. What is worse - there are young people forced to attend classes with these non-teachers in control. Sad.

Posted by Middle-Age Sally, a resident of Heritage Oaks
on Jun 10, 2009 at 9:13 am

Jeb is clueless on most issues. I don't read his editorials anymore, they're just too off the wall.

For the most part, age with teachers is just like any other profession, its not the primary determinant. Having said that, one of the key problems in education today is the whole load of BS about feeling good, self-esteem and teaching to the lowest common denominator. Administrators and the younger teachers have been steeped in this, while the older teachers have been around long enough to know what it was like when our educational system was in a lot better shape. Learning is about learning, not about feeling good. Learning is about learning, not about athletics above all else, assemblies, endless field trips, endless videos, and in-class parties (because learning is just too boring). Sadly, another ramification of left-wing loons taking over the education system.

All in all, the older teachers are likely the best. Not particularly the fault of the younger teachers, just the system in which the younger ones have been brought up.

By the way, the older teachers are under assault in most schools. They are considered too serious, too confrontational, too dour, too stuck in their old ways (i.e. teaching verus relating or feeling good), costing too much, and (gasp) assigning too much homework (what a crock!).

Parents better wake up because the Asian countries are eating our lunch while your kids are recreating and feeling good.

Posted by blame the teachers union, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2009 at 10:35 am

I believe retention of a teaching position should be based on effectiveness, not age or seniority. It's unfortunate that the teachers with less seniority (which in most cases are the younger) are laid off when the more senior, and sometimes less effective, are retained because they've been there longer. Unlike in the private sector, where a person keeps a job based on his or her performance, the teachers union rewards longevity. This is unfortunate for the less senior (younger), effective teachers, the more senior (older) effective teachers, the students and the parents.

Posted by Parent of Two, a resident of Val Vista
on Jun 10, 2009 at 10:36 am

Parent of Two is a registered user.

Forget age. Age should have NOTHING to do with the decision-making process. Like many have said, there are good YOUNG teachers, and there are good OLD teachers. There are also crappy teachers across the age spectrum.

But the layoff notices were seemingly based on union seniority, meaning the young were disproportionately targeted.

WHY ISN'T QUALITY THE MAIN CRITERION? If a great teacher has been in the district for two years, why are we laying them off and keeping a crappy teacher that's been here for twenty?

Posted by erryja, a resident of Lydiksen Elementary School
on Jun 10, 2009 at 10:56 am

In this type of government led institution the above quote relates. The only way to challenge for constant improvement is to keep a fresh mix of motivated and inspired new talent that will RAISE THE BAR. This is proven history in public schools.

Posted by Been There, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2009 at 11:23 am

I have been on several interviews in the past 5 years for both long-term sub positions and regular teaching positions in the PUSD, and I have noticed both age discrimination and nepotism in its hiring process. I have been told two different things depending on what the situation or job position was, either I just wasn't what they were looking for, in the case when someone who is in the system (School board, school principal, former teacher, current teacher's daughter was up for the opening, or that I was really good and came really close, but someone with much more experience (like 15 years or retired) wanted to come back and long-term sub, so they can jump on board and go. I know this happens in other districts, but some of my "peers" have found success in being hired in another district after their rejection here.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2009 at 11:32 am

Quality is in the eyes of the beholder. Who would rate the teachers and how? Some administrators prefer not making waves and kissing up as it makes their lives easier. Some parents wnat less homework and easy tests as all A's are the goal. Other parents want challenging courses so the A actually means something. Still others worry about self esteam.

As for training, should the evaluator focus on education techniques or subject matter enhancement in the training to improve.

Unions protect the incompetent from consequence and the competent from undeserved harm. Or individuals exercising their power.

Posted by i remember, a resident of Valley Trails
on Jun 10, 2009 at 12:32 pm

have to agree that older or younger makes no difference except in the case of Miss Lanes, my third grade teacher. She was just too drop dead gorgeous with a figure that said, "you can't hear a word i'm saying , can you?"

Posted by It just depends, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2009 at 12:46 pm

You know, here is the deal.

Competence depends on the individual. That is why there should be a merit based system.

I worked in the public schools for 8 years as an educator before I resigned to stay home with my kids. I worked very hard. I have a Masters degree and I worked hard within all the grade levels I taught. All I know is that I had coworkers that developed their curriculum years ago and stuck with it no matter what others in the same grade level were creating, and then I had coworkers that were constantly keeping up with the latest and implementing it brilliantly. I can remember in one case a brand new teacher worked with a teacher that was retiring after the year. The new teacher borrowed every unit and activity the older teacher had. The newer teacher updated it with cute graphics, etc, but basically copied everything from the older teacher. The older teacher, God bless her, stayed every night until 6PM her last year to continue to do her best. The newer teacher also stayed late that first year prepping all her work. The difference was that after 30 years of teaching one teacher stayed until 6PM to prepare for each individual child in her class each year. The newer teacher stayed the second year and reused everything she did from the year before and was at the mall or working out by 4PM daily.

I know because that teacher was not only a coworker but a neighbor in my apartment complex. She moved there after she found out I lived there.

So there is an example that demonstrates why you should look at the individual for performance, not at years. It is possible that the 30 year experienced teacher was more dedicated than ever.

Posted by Perry, a resident of Golden Eagle
on Jun 10, 2009 at 12:51 pm

While there are certainly problems with the seniority system, it is not all bad. I can assure you if it were not for the seniority system, there would be rampant age discrimintion. Outstanding older teachers would see their careers upended when they may have 15 or so good years left simply because they "cost too much" (yet you don't see the administration taking any pay cuts). It goes on all the time in Corporate America. Over 50 - your toast.

It also protects teachers against poor principals and administrators - and the system is plagued with them. Many school administrators are in thier positions because they could not cut it as classroom teachers. Don't laugh, as its the norm rather than the exception. Then there are the prinicpals and administrators who don't have a clue - a sizable percentage have degrees in weak majors and few have degrees in tough disciplines. Its hilarious seeing a pricipal with a PE or home economics major counseling a math or science teacher on how to teach their subjects.

Posted by It just depends, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2009 at 12:56 pm


I know you are right. We had a special ed teacher rise in the ranks to become a principal. She had NO training in regular ed and was never in a regular ed classroom, yet she was our principal.

My question is how to merge merit and seniority that doesn't retain the less competent teachers?

Posted by Please, a resident of Danbury Park
on Jun 10, 2009 at 1:08 pm

Just please, please do not say merit pay should be based on test scores. Please do not suggest that!

Posted by Robert, a resident of Danville
on Jun 10, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Maybe we should just pay them by the pound. the more they weigh the more we pay.

Posted by It just depends, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2009 at 1:41 pm


No worries - I don't think test scores are attributed to teachers directly anyway. It's about a kid and how much they learned and how well they take tests.

As far as I am concerned, just as any position, you have annual professional growth goals. Teachers are evaluated on a rotational calendar. They are notified when they will be evaluated, the principal comes into the class to see a lesson that is geared to demonstrate the skills of growth the teacher is supposed to be "growing" in.

The principal leaves, then the teacher and the principal meet, review the observation and gets a performance review.

What I believe should happen is that there shouldn't be any notice. An administrator that is not part of the school's staff, should drop in a couple of times per year in each classroom with each teacher's professional goals for an unbiased and unpredicted review.

That's how it works in the real world. You don't get to pick when your boss watches you. It shouldn't be someone who you can influence other ways. It should be independent, impartial and completely objective and it should be annually. The results should be given to the site principal to A) be made aware of what an independent evaluator sees and B) to help guide the principal in what kind of help the staff member really needs.

Posted by Parent of Two, a resident of Val Vista
on Jun 10, 2009 at 2:05 pm

Parent of Two is a registered user.

Hiding behind fear of age discrimination? Sorry, but that doesn't cut it, especially in a litigious state like California. Anyone over 40 is a "protected class", and you can't shove out a 40-year old just to hire a 25-year old. You would have to "eliminate the position" or have some pretty egregious HR violations to remove someone over 40.

The reality is that union is essentially using reverse age discrimination to select who gets pink-slipped.

Is there any downside to using MERIT or QUALITY as the criteria for keeping teachers? It certainly is better for the kids than arbitrarily whacking the newest teachers in the district. And isn't it supposed to be about the kids?

Posted by An Educator Fan, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2009 at 2:49 pm

To the original poster (Wendy) who said: Jeb writes about losing "...some of the districts youngest and brightest."

And that "he thinks youth makes a teacher more valuable."

Talk about trying to start an argument where none exists…………

The comment is just a fact. Jeb did not say they are more valuable than other teachers. But, many of the teachers we are loosing are indeed young…and very bright.

It is truly sad that we are losing any of them. It's obvious - We need more educators - not less.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Jun 11, 2009 at 8:10 am

I completely agree. I'm not saying that young teachers are inherently better, but many of the younger teachers at Amador Valley (which I attend) are better than the secure, tenured ones. For example, a geometry teacher I had four years ago (who is just now retiring) was an awful teacher despite her 30+ years of experience. In contrast, my civics teacher was brand-new to PUSD and probably the best teacher I've ever had. Way to go, unions.

Posted by Wendy, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 11, 2009 at 5:09 pm

A fact that they are the 'brightest'? How is that a fact? Were IQ test scores compared, or what?

Posted by Sarah, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 11, 2009 at 5:12 pm

I agree about nepotism in the hiring of teachers in Pleasanton. My child had a pugnacious little brat for a teacher, fresh out of school, and when I saw her mother worked for the district for decades, I knew why she was there. There really was no other logical explanation.

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