Comments about ‘Fran Tarkenton says teachers must be more like NFL players, American education is broken’

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Published: Friday, Oct. 7 2011 10:00 a.m. MDT

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American Fork, UT

All private employees at all levels must demonstrate increasing productivity and effectiveness or risk pay cuts or job loss. The fact that public employees don't face that same risk to the same degree is a problem we need to address, especially when you consider that public sector employees make, on average, the same or more than private sector employees. Entry-level teachers don't get paid very well. That's true. But neither do customer service employees, manufacturing employees, and many others -- all of whom risk their livelihoods every day if they don't perform well.

Orem, Utah

Government jobs are run by the entitlement crowd. That will never change. So, incompentence will forever rule government jobs of all kinds.

That's one reason I like small government! One reason I don't like socialism (big government required to make that work).

Orem, UT

Truly the students are the players and the Teachers are the coaches. The coaches hands are tied with requirements that prevent them from coaching properly and every player is expected to play every game and run every touchdown. It's really crazy!!

Orem, UT

So many people think students are widgets that you just push harder and harder. And that they will respond like turning up the throttle on a machine. If parents and society don't expect more of our youth, how are teachers going to continue to fight. Teachers can't do everything for parents and every special interest group that comes along.
My 7th and 8th grade classroom is open to anybody that thinks they know what should be done. Don't just tell me, come into my room. You will be locked in a room with 30 boys and girls for 90 minutes at a time, with 6 different groups. You are responsible for discipline, behavior, and teaching the mandated curriculum to all students - both regular and special ed. If they don't learn, it's not their fault, it's yours...right? Why is it no one takes me up on this offer?

West Jordan, UT

So, should the teachers bargain for better working conditions like the NFL players association? Should teachers threaten to cancel the school year because their demands are not met? Should teachers get training and preparation for four to six days of the week and only teach 2-1/2 hours every week? Should teachers be able to work 4-10 years and then be financially secure for the rest of their lives? Should all teachers be given full ride scholarships before entering the workforce? Should teachers be allowed to be arrested at a higher rate than the general population and still expect to not only retain licensure but continue to be courted by more prestigious, higher-paying institutions?

See, some of the analogies might fit, others are ridiculous...much the same as Mr. Tarkenton's and Mr. Limbaugh's support of Mr. Tarkenton's arguments.

Until you walk in the shoes of a teacher every day, you may not be qualified to address education issues knowledgeably.

Salt Lake City, UT

The "No child left behind" enactment has ruined the educational standards in this country. This mandated curriculum by the federal government is unfair to teachers and it keeps our students at a comfortably ignorant level. Monopolies have no place in the education system. There are too many things on the mandated list that have nothing to do with individual student learning that teachers are required to check off or they risk losing things (money) that are vital in providing the tools necessary for them to be able to do their jobs. This country is in trouble because of the government and their regulations. Something needs to happen and it needs to happen now! At the least Mr. Tarkenton's article is bringing attention to an important issue that seems to have been put on the back burner for the last thirty years.


How many of you in private sector jobs have had a legislator tell you to your face, "You're not worth the money we pay you." That happened to my colleague. The legislator's daughter was struggling in the teacher's calculus class and the parent was angry the girl wasn't earning an A. I have taught 15 years and have four times worked with children of four different school board members. Only one of the students was a typical student. He was responsible student and a joy to work with. The other three were tougher. Two were really nice, but would make veiled threats regarding their children. The final parent verbally berated a whole team of teachers at a parent meeting because his daughter was a complete mess, including suicide attempts and absolute refusal to work in class. The mess was all our fault, and had nothing to do with his chaotic home. Tenure is not ideal, but some protections are necessary with vindictive power players. We have some parents in our area who brag about getting coaches fired. Do you want the teacher who refuses to countenance cheating fired because it's the school board president's child?

Ogden, UT

Tarkenton's analogy just doesn't work on so many levels! Try again, Fran. This English teacher gives the essay a D for faulty logic and insufficient evidence.

Mcallen, TX

The problem is politics. Administrators can be bias and play favorites when evaluating teachers.

Salt Lake City, Utah

The problem is in teachers who do not make an effort to improve themselves. As such, they do not have any reason to work to improve their students. In essence, it makes them just glorified, overpaid, babysitters. Those who fit this catagory know who they are, and they are hurting the entire education system in this country.

Durham, NC

I can imagine it..... we would have sky rocketing teacher cost, lockouts or strikes every few years, and still have schools the year after year under perform.

I love football, love the players, but having people with personnas anything like football players in the class room would be ridiculous.

Sorry Fran, but you got it all wrong. I really wish we could have a direct pay for performance wage scale. But to do would require the teachers to have far more control over their own performance than they do have now. They would have to have the ability to remove underperforming kids from their classes where parents don't help their kids. The hardest thing teachers face is the task of taking kids from far ranging previous backgrounds who have wildly support systems, and try to get them all to the exact same place after 9 short months.

In the NFL, players are hand picked to work together, to compliment each other, to work as a system. Classrooms are the polar opposite, nothing like a planned team of people all working toward a common goal.

Chuck E. Racer
Lehi, UT

Since when does Fran Tarkenton know anything about education? Would you publish an article that I wrote about how the NFL should work, when I've never even put on shoulder pads?

Pay teachers what they pay the NFL, and then you can fire them whenever you want! Costs have increased as people have become an entitlement, anti-family society, and have increased demands far in excess of the extra funding.

This article does nothing but tell those in the public who don't know about teaching or don't care about their children that the public education system doesn't work. That's false. What doesn't work is doing everything we can to destroy the system that HAS worked for over 300 years, helping make this country what it is. This is just part of the coordinated attack on this country in an attempt to destroy it.

Sandy, UT

This is the dumbest correlation I have ever read. First off if you are Tom Brady and you are leading your team to a super bowl every other year you are making the franchise money. The franchise can not afford to lose you.

If a public or private school had the best teacher in the world they are still replaceable and would be replaced if they demanded a high salary.

Why do people think merit pay is the solution to education? I know employers can hold merit raises over your head and you as an employee can work your tail off and still not get a good raise or even a raise at all. It is the proverbial carrot stick. Don't you think the bigger problem is the constant attacks on teachers from our mighty legislators.

sherlock holmes
Eastern, UT

Fran should spend 1 day, then 1 week, even a month with 30 busy 4th graders and see if he has the answers. Let him do the lesson plans, teaching, correcting papers, parent interaction, discipline, etc. All of it. Then more would listen.

We need to get a more supportive environment for educators. Anyone can say the kind of things he says, but he would have far more credibility if he spent a month in the classroom first, then spoke out.

Ogden, UT

Well thank you Mr. Tarkenton... Why is this news? I think NFL players should be more like teachers. Instead of working 16 weeks, you work 36. Then instead of running around making news by raping, robbing, and boozing, they should spend the other 16 weeks in training at .75% pay. Instead of making 15 million a year as a rookie, NFL players should be payed a MAX of $40,000, even if they've been in the league for 35 years. The other 14,960,000 can be used to fix several roads, build 60 more schools (to cut class sizes) or something else that actually matters to the betterment of society. I don't mind the fact that this gentleman is under the impression that his ideas are good ones. What bothers me is the fact that it's actually news.

Salt Lake City, UT

If the NFL were ran like schools then Mr. Francis Tarkenton would only have played 1 quarter per game, because his 3 back up quarterbacks would require equal treatment and attention just as our students do.

Coach P
Provo, UT

I loved Fran Tarkenton as a QB growing up. But I would have to ask him as an educator/coach?

Unlike a NFL GM/ Coach I can't CUT my students that have disabilities, that are ELL, that are lazy, that have uninvolved parents, that have criminal records, etc. I have to teach them.

And I think the critics above said all that I could really say. I mean the NFL pays rookies millions of dollars often guaranteed money and haven't done squat. And who is a better player Barry Sanders or Emmit Smith? One never won any rings while the other won several. But like two good teachers, maybe one doesn't get the best results because he is teaching challenging students in a challenging work environment while another might be teaching in an area where there is money, involved parents and top rate facilities.

Again, I respect Fran as a great former NFL quarterback and even more as a business person, but because somebody is rich or whatever doesn't mean his opinion on the subject is worthy. Maybe we should be talking to the most outstanding EDUCATORS and seeing what they SAY could be done to improve education.

Heber City, UT

The main problem is students who think they have to be entertained or they are not learning and think they can simply sit in class and put forth no effort, yet go home and seldom put in time studying and are surprised when they don't understand the subject matter the next day, all the time thinking they need to cheat to get a good grade.

Students get off your rear ends, put in the time and you will find the subject matter is more enjoyable. Quit cramming for exams, because research shows that if you do you will forget the information in several weeks, nor will you be able to recall it later on.

The teacher simply cannot compete with the media the students surround themselves. I have been in classrooms where the teacher presented a fantastic lesson, very interesting and challenging to the thinker, yet so many of the students sat their nonplussed. They were not being entertained so they did not connect.

Yes, tenure is a problem, but a diligent, and I mean diligent administrator, can eliminate the lazy, poor teacher. I have done it. It takes "time".

William Gronberg
Payson, UT

Fran Tarkenton is good at comparing apples to oranges. The person who selected this article for publication should receive even more criticism than Fran deserves.


Everest, how can teachers "demonstrate increasing productivity and effectiveness?" We aren't dealing with widgets, we are dealing with children. Can you define what good teaching looks like? No one has been able to because what works for one teacher, doesn't work for another. Some use humor, some can't catch a joke. But both might be highly effective. Is it the teacher with the quiet classroom? Or is noisy a good thing when children are actively learning? Is it the teacher who uses worksheets to practice for the state test, or the teacher who uses projects and varied activities to meet the needs of students? Are the students better off because their test scores might be higher with the first type? Teaching is highly complex work and as a mom, I'd rather my children NOT be tested, for their sakes. My kindergartner came home years ago and said he didn't like school. Through clenched teeth he said, "Too many tests." I can tell if a teacher is doing a good job when I look over the quality of work my children have done, and how well it's graded. Test scores mean little when so much more influences test results.

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