Is work productivity over at age 60?
The big 6 0
It is against the law to discriminate based on age. Unfortunately, the laws don’t stop employers from discriminating any more than gun laws stop people from killing other people. In the past employers found sophisticated ways to get around discrimination laws. Today many employers, especially school administrators, make overt statements about the ability and perceived limitations of employees they deem to be “washed up.” I chose to narrow the focus, for the purposes of this Hub, to teachers.
Federal laws against age discrimination
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects certain applicants and employees 40 years of age and older from discrimination on the basis of age in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, or terms, conditions or privileges of employment. The ADEA is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
The Age Discrimination Act of 1975 prohibits discrimination on the basis of age in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. The Act, which applies to all ages, permits the use of certain age distinctions and factors other than age that meet the Act's requirements. The Age Discrimination Act is enforced by the Civil Rights Center.
Section 188 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) prohibits discrimination against applicants, employees and participants in WIA Title I-financially assisted programs and activities, and programs that are part of the One-Stop system, on the ground of age.
There are age discrimination laws
Education crisis in public schools
The education crisis of the late twentieth century saw a decrease in literacy and the high school graduation rate, an increase in unemployment and job seekers with no job skills, and a myriad of education-related problems that impact our country both socially and economically. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) was intended to improve individual student learning. The Act supports standards-based education reform through the setting of high standards and establishment of measureable goals. With NCLB came the concept of “highly qualified teacher.” NCLB requires that teachers be highly qualified and credentialed in the subjects they teach. NCLB does not include age as a criterion for designation as “highly qualified.”
How do looks affect the learning environment
Contention and divisiveness
NCLB requires constant testing to show progress students are making in core classes. Teaching students to “pass the test” is a daunting and divisive task. The current financial crisis has added nastiness to the objective of passing the test. The shortage of funds requires that we accomplish the same objective with fewer teachers. New teachers are shown the revolving door on one end and elderly teachers are forced out on the other end. This causes distrust and fear among teachers and kills morale. This is the environment in which we are to improve individual student learning. The system of identifying which teachers to keep and which teachers to get rid depends on the character of those making the decisions. Many people making the decisions do not make them in the best interest of the students but pursue their own personal agendas.
A few myths about older teachers
- Older teachers use the same old boring methods each year.
- Less senior teachers who put in more effort than older teacher are laid off.
- Older teachers are unable to manage a classroom.
- Older teachers have old fashioned values.
In urban families grandparents play a key role in raising their grandchildren. Many of my students tell me I remind them of their grandmothers when I advise them on how to handle conflict and personal issues.
10 qualities of an effective teacher
Beyond education and licensure, more is needed to be an effective teacher. Most people would agree on these basic qualities. Unless one has medical issues, age does not diminish a teacher’s ability to be effective. Effective teachers
- Loves to teach
- Demonstrates a caring attitude
- Can relate to their students
- Is willing to think outside the box
- Is a good communicator
- Is proactive rather than reactive
- Works to be better
- Uses a variety of media in their lessons
- Challenges their students
- Understands the content that they teach and knows how to explain that content in a manner that their students understand
If you feel you are a target of age discrimination
Discrimination laws can work if the circumstanaces are properly documented. In order to document ongoing discrimination:
- Understand your employment contract, each section and each word.
- Keep copious notes: dates, times, names, nature of contact and other pertinent information;
- Request written clarification of performance requirements and alleged deficiencies. If written clarification is not provided, write an email documenting your understanding of what is required;
- Write emails requesting resources and assistance;
- Use Outlook to post dates and communication;
- Get advice and assistance from your union representative; and
- Keep a backup copy of copious notes.
Age discrimination shows a lack of respect for, and possible disdain for, the elderly. The poetic justice here is that everyone who lives long enough will get old. My suggestions may sound like paranoia but make sense when you are subjected to discrimination.
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