Sunday, March 11, 2012

Q. Are We Not Teachers? The Devolution of Education

We seem to have come to a critical point in the education deform movement. No, that's not a typo: I don't mean reform, I mean deform, because the people who want to use unreliable and faulty data to evaluate teachers and deny educators their negotiated due process rights are not reformers and never have been. They are out to twist education from a public responsibility to a privatized option whose purpose is to serve the needs of their wealthy supporters at the expense of unions and educators who know best how the system works and how it can best serve children.

It's high time that policy makers, including Governors, Commissioners of Education (including ACTING Commissioners) and government officials respect the fact that educators know what works in the classroom and that they need to be intimately involved in the decision-making process. If you don't include the stakeholders, any efforts at improving education will ultimately fail. We need to be loud and clear about what's at stake, and to call for real reform that benefits parents, students and teachers. Please join me in expressing your concern about the direction that education reform is taking. We are headed down the wrong path.

Every word in this sentence is a link to an article that details the folly of using student standardized test scores to evaluate teachers. Yet, that's exactly what the deformers want to do.

If what happened in New York City isn't scary enough, consider this: Under the Value Added Model, teachers will be distilled down to a number and that number will stay with them for every year in which they teach. If the number is considered good, they'll be OK, but if that number decreases, be ready for a storm that will make Katrina seem like a drizzle. Parents will want the teacher with the 86 rating, not you and your paltry 78. And just why were you a 92 last year but an 83 this year? It will be bad. Teachers will be two-students-who-ate-lousy-breakfasts-on-test-day away from being the teacher that nobody wants for their child.

In New Jersey,  there's a bit of controversy over a  proposed teacher tenure bill because it would grandfather in all teachers who are currently working in schools. Never mind that those teachers have already been vetted during their 3 year probationary period. Governor Christie believes that New Jersey's teachers as failing (even when they're not) and that the NJEA lies about everything.

For the record, I have no problem with my dues money going to pay for advertisements and political action that calls out a governor who knows next to zilch about teaching or education or reforming or being diplomatic or appropriate or how to be a role model for anyone other than your average bully. And in a delicious irony, our bully-in-chief  signed an anti-bullying law that he refused to pay for and that was declared unconstitutional. Of course, there's money for Christie's tax cut proposal, but so far the response has been lukewarm at best.

Right now the deformers have the high ground. We know that the education and teacher bashing model is working because morale among educators has reached a new low. And that's exactly what our society needs in a world of hyper-competitiveness, where education and skills will be the coin of the realm. Having a teaching staff that knows it's unappreciated by the various elements who want to undermine public education is a sure fire way to keep American students undereducated for the future. And it's a terrific strategy for  attracting and keeping the smart, creative, energetic, technologically savvy people we'll need in education now and in the future.

The time is growing short for educators to take the lead and turn the deform movement into an actual educational reform movement. Get involved and let your voice be heard.

Are we not Teachers?

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    1. Gary McDonald,Carbondale coloradoMarch 13, 2012 at 12:00 AM

      Its not the Teachers fault that so many students don't have the drive to learn. So many distractions these days and little or no help at home. Teachers don't have enough time to help the ones that want to learn.They need student aides,Collage students wanting a degree in anything..? Right?

    2. Thanks Gary. It does seem as though all of the responsibility for the child's performance is being put on the teacher without recognizing the other influencing factors.