Fran Tarkenton says teachers must be more like NFL players, American education is broken

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Oct. 11, 2011 11:13 a.m.

    In a free country as ours, why is it mandatory for our children to attend school? Education and schools are important, but mandatory in a free country? Accountability to the state and feds? NO!

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Oct. 9, 2011 10:23 p.m.


    Also, football players are evaluated by the number of wins and money a team can make. Teachers are evaluated by how well they follow procedures, and by student test scores. This hinders creativity. Being micro managed, invites bias evaluators as it doesn't account for differences of talent, and points of view.

    A parent once said, teachers are like robots. "They all sound alike and say the same things".

  • DRay Roy, UT
    Oct. 9, 2011 9:13 p.m.

    Evaluation of teachers is way too biased, all factors are not considered, administrators have agendas. If teachers could be evaluated fairly without prejiduce, then perhaps Tarkenten's analogy would apply. When you your career opportunities are determined by people who have their own agendas to fill, you do not get a fair deal, the best teachers are not rewarded as they should be. Thus the unions try to protect them to some degree.

  • Midwest Mom Soldiers Grove, WI
    Oct. 9, 2011 2:49 p.m.

    Teachers get laid off all the time. There is no tenure in our system; only a just-cause provision in the employment contract. Teachers can be fired for cause. This lie of tenure and "job forever" garbage is propaganda at its worst.

  • Midwest Mom Soldiers Grove, WI
    Oct. 9, 2011 2:47 p.m.

    "Teachers must be more like NFL players." Now there's a solution that few have put forth. I wonder why? It must be nice for Mr. Tarkenton, having all the answers to life's problems. And to think, all this time, instead of taking my children to Church, I should have had them signed up for football. They probably could have skipped college then, too. Perhaps Mr. Tarkenton had a few too many hits to the old noggin.

    Meanwhile, in the real world, here in Wisconsin my teacher husband's take-home pay has been cut by $400 / month in an attempt to balance the budget. Over a billion dollars was cut from the education budget, yet our so-called conservative Governor still managed to outspend the last governor. Naturally, there has been a flood of retirements and resignations. Somehow, this is supposed to improve education. This brave new world of propaganda-spinning, greed-inspiring, high-spending so-called conservative nonsense is destroying our country. Unfortunately, too many of my friends and neighbors are too busy OD-ing on Fox News to notice.

  • mattwend IDAHO FALLS, ID
    Oct. 8, 2011 9:11 p.m.

    Goet, I've taught 15 years and have done my share of teaching children how to test. Some test prep is useful in life situations, including for students who eventually go into careers that require entrance tests. My concern is when low performing students where my children attend school had to take an extra English class to help them prepare for the grammar and composition test because the test tests in ways that don't fit the way students use grammar and especially composition in any real environment. So the class was entirely for teaching test skills, not anything that will help them anywhere else. I am also not happy with the idea that because teachers have job protections, they will automatically become bad employees. I believe when people choose the career of teaching, it's not for money, except as a living. For most of us, it is to make a difference in the lives of children. I assure you I don't spend every day thinking I can slack off now because I have tenure. I'm too busy planning, grading, and coming up with interesting ways to help my students learn. I worry excessive testing is leading to reduced thinking skills.

  • Goet Ogden, UT
    Oct. 8, 2011 7:55 p.m.


    When I'm no longer judged by test scores, I'll stop teaching my kids how to test. Until then, expect test practice.

  • PHealey Holladay, UT
    Oct. 8, 2011 6:30 p.m.

    Just makes me want to get up and go to school monday morning :( Anyone that starts teaching will find the real problems. If everyone that had the solutions would just teach for 7 years it would change a lot of thoughts. (maybe since some can't think straight, but then the schools will be blamed for that for also)

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Oct. 8, 2011 5:51 p.m.

    Really? Teachers are so micro-managed. They're told what and how to teach. Education is broken because of law making legislators. We spend billions on unproductive standardized testing. Has education prospered from this? Why do our children need to be accountable to the state or feds? This is not the America of 1776.

  • utahreader CENTERVILLE, UT
    Oct. 8, 2011 4:40 p.m.

    There are so many problems with this analogy it's hard to know where to start. First of all, what if everyone was required to watch football, whether they wanted to or not, and then, were tested on the events of the game or polled to see if they were entertained enough? Test scores would reflect whether a football player should be kept on the team.

    The number one predictor of a student not graduating from high school is being held back in any grade. Holding a student back solves nothing. Finding out what the learning problem is and remediating it is what helps students. This of course takes time, individual attention and smaller classes. We remediate with reading, we need to remediate with students in math as well.

  • mtmanmc Colorado Springs, CO
    Oct. 8, 2011 4:17 p.m.

    Seems that point has been missed here. First: I've met Fran Tarkenton before my freshman year in high school. Second: Level of a business organization starts from the top down. CEO, President, Management, and Employees. NFL Players are the employee same can be said for NBA Players and etc. Employees seem to think, that they know everything about the whole business. There Unions want a larger share without the full picture. Third: Teachers need to leave there believes at home and teach without there Unions Believes in the classroom. Why should the Shareholders have to paid for sub par teaching. Shareholders are equal to parents, community, state, and country. One product doesn't fit all. We have taken out this country unskilled, skilled, and traders, because everyone wants there children to be something they may never want to be. One child is good at math, another one is good with computers, another one is good at welding, another one is good with mechanics, another one is good with child welfare, and etc. One size doesn't fit all.

  • Springvillepoet Springville, UT
    Oct. 8, 2011 3:37 p.m.

    Maybe I should get even the median pay of say, a player for the New York Jets, at $890K/year.

    If I was getting paid that much I might be willing to listen to Fran's ideas. Of course, if I made that much, I wouldn't have to work more than 3 years before I would have made a lot more than what it will take me to earn for a 30 year career in education.

    I am not saying athletes don't deserve their pay, but what Fran has to say is not analogous to the situation. Students, as was said earlier, are not products, and education is not supposed to be run as if schools were listed on the NY Stock Exchange.

  • Chuck E. Racer Lehi, UT
    Oct. 8, 2011 3:03 p.m.

    It's interesting that conservatives decry how movie stars' opinions on the environment get so much attention, when they know nothing about what they are spouting about. But when a popular athlete-entertainer shoots off his mouth about something he knows nothing about, education, they fall all over it!

  • optic yellow Ogden, UT
    Oct. 8, 2011 2:59 p.m.

    We need to stop saying "THE problem is"....

    Ther are numerous problems. In fact each group participating in the education process is responsible for some part of the struggles of the system. Teachers, parents, legislators, students, admin....

    No single approach will "fix it." instead of pointing and blaming, or getting offended when pointed at, try and think of the big picture and for each thing you want to change with one group come up with a change for each participating entity.

    Teachers... Better pay, easier termination
    Parents... Required participation
    Students... Held back when not up to par
    Administration... Reduce pay to be equal to that of a teacher+10%, merit pay and easier termination
    Legislators.... Who knows
    And so on

    Long story short... Not just one problem, please think before assigning blame to one faction.

  • mattwend IDAHO FALLS, ID
    Oct. 8, 2011 1:30 p.m.

    CougarBlue, you bring up an important issue. Are we damaging children by making all coursework enjoyable? When I was a child, we did our work because we were told to. We complained sometimes, but we did it, or we faced consequences at home. Now, kids say they are bored, so the parents don't worry about their bad grades. An effective education requires several different levels of responsibility: legislators, administration/school board, teachers, parents, and students. The problem is all the responsibility it placed on teachers. We give schools report cards, what about legislators? What if they were "graded" by the number of people living in poverty? Crime rates? Road conditions? School buildings? What about school boards? Are they serving solely to benefit their children, as a step towards political career? To really benefit all students? To get teachers fired? What about parents. Are they expecting children to work, or are they making excuses? Or, are they too busy to worry about school for their child? And what about students. When they fail a class, are there consequences? How serious? If they still get to have their video games and tv, why should they try harder?

  • mattwend IDAHO FALLS, ID
    Oct. 8, 2011 12:43 p.m.

    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.

  • William Gronberg Payson, UT
    Oct. 8, 2011 12:28 p.m.

    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.

  • CougarBlue Heber City, UT
    Oct. 8, 2011 12:13 p.m.

    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".

  • Coach P Provo, UT
    Oct. 8, 2011 10:35 a.m.

    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.

  • Adam Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 8, 2011 9:56 a.m.

    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.

  • vdubbin' Ogden, UT
    Oct. 8, 2011 9:31 a.m.

    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.

  • sherlock holmes Eastern, UT
    Oct. 8, 2011 9:11 a.m.

    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.

  • Shaun Sandy, UT
    Oct. 8, 2011 9:03 a.m.

    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.

  • Chuck E. Racer Lehi, UT
    Oct. 8, 2011 7:50 a.m.

    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.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Oct. 8, 2011 7:22 a.m.

    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.

  • Ok Salt Lake City, Utah
    Oct. 8, 2011 7:10 a.m.

    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.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    Oct. 7, 2011 11:35 p.m.

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

  • metisophia Ogden, UT
    Oct. 7, 2011 11:15 p.m.

    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.

  • mattwend IDAHO FALLS, ID
    Oct. 7, 2011 11:06 p.m.

    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?

  • ignoranceisbliss Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 7, 2011 10:46 p.m.

    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.

  • JayDee West Jordan, UT
    Oct. 7, 2011 4:04 p.m.

    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.

  • bikerdude Orem, UT
    Oct. 7, 2011 3:04 p.m.

    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?

  • bikerdude Orem, UT
    Oct. 7, 2011 2:28 p.m.

    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!!

  • WhatsInItForMe Orem, Utah
    Oct. 7, 2011 12:23 p.m.

    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).

  • Everest American Fork, UT
    Oct. 7, 2011 11:20 a.m.

    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.