Odds And Ends

Two Johns have two takes on the LAT value-added imbroglio worth checking out.   John Fensterwald looks at the school district’s positioning, and John Merrow comes out in favor of naming names.

For all the political sniping, hardly anyone noticed that Democrats for Education Reform and the AFT ran a joint ad for Michael Bennet in Colorado.

BW’s Sara Mead does a sit down on Ezra Klein’s blog to discuss early childhood education.

Meanwhile Michelle Rhee gets the Jay Mathews endorsement in the upcoming DC primary. See also this on the mayoral race.  Rhee has better approval ratings than the President!

Don’t miss SEC v. New Jersey on pensions if you follow that issue.

And from Politico’s Obama-teachers story is this:

Nationwide outrage among teachers exploded in March when both Obama and Duncan justified the mass firings of educators at a failing Rhode Island school. (Teachers ultimately kept their jobs in a concession deal.)

“The administration has strong reformist credentials, but this went way too far for many people,” said Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation who studies teachers unions. “I think the average American who worries about getting laid off unfairly could relate to the teachers.”

Just to be clear, teachers ultimately kept their jobs in the deal the school district wanted at the beginning before all the teachers were fired. The only difference was the months lost to face-saving rather than planning.   So (a) there was no concession and (b) contra Kahlenberg’s plea for solidarity polls at the time were supportive of the district and Obama.   The average teachers’ union member may have been pissed but that’s not the same thing…except perhaps at Century?

Meanwhile, WaPo’s usually sharp Birnbaum falls for the “dueling” studies cop-out on TFA research.   In his defense, a straightforward look at the research would make the article pretty pointless.  More generally, isn’t it time to flip the script on this and ask what it means for traditional teacher preparation programs when teachers coming through routes like TNTP training programs and TFA do as well at substantially less cost to taxpayers and candidates? That would be an interesting article with some real implications for where policymaking is going on that issue.  (And, disc, I’m on the boards of two ed schools – UVA and Harvard – so I’m not hostile to training and prep).

7 thoughts on “Odds And Ends

  1. Linda/RetiredTeacher

    This is what I’d like to know about the Los Angeles test scores: Is the teacher whose students got really high scores a great teacher or did he whisper the answers in the kids’ ears?

    Apparently the reporters were not there during test administration so they wouldn’t know; and they haven’t been reading the articles about “testing irregularities” in Atlanta, New York , DC and other big cities. I wonder if these reporters have any idea how “loose” test handling and administration is in most school districts across the country. Most are not professionally proctored but are administered by the classroom teacher!! If “Mr. Smith,” the teacher with the bad scores goes to court, he shouldn’t have such a hard time proving that the scores might not be valid.

  2. Phillipmarlowe

    Flip the issue. Good suggestion to distract from the$50 million TFA gets suc king on the public fit.

  3. phillipmarlowe

    This comment on Jay Mathews article deserves to be highlighted:

    Money Saving Advice to American Parents From Jay Mathews

    Contrary to all the research on the first five year of children being important for development I know that this is simply a misconception.

    American parents can simply neglect their children for the first five years. This could save Americans billions.

    It is the responsibility of teachers in public schools to have your children learn no matter their neglect in the first five years.

    Ms. Rhee and I are full supporters of the responsibility of teachers on their own to overcome the neglect of children, and American parents simply can ignore the child psychologists.

    SAVE MONEY AND NEGLECT YOUR CHILD.
    Posted by: jaymathews | August 23, 2010

  4. edconsumer

    Linda, I love how when teachers succeed, you are the first in line to suggest that they might have cheated. When teachers fail, we should blame the parents; but when they succeed, we should question their legitimacy.

    But other people are the ones who are anti-teacher. Good grief.

    Maybe we can take some of the taxpayers’ $10 billion and put it toward proctors so we can make sure that the self-professed defenders of teachers don’t accuse all the successful teachers of cheating.

  5. Attorney DC

    Linda: I don’t know if I would be as concerned about teachers actually ‘cheating’ when administering the test (as you suggested), but rather I’d be concerned with teachers purposefully focusing the class on tested topics (i.e., “teaching to the test”). I agree with you that using student test data to create high-stakes consequences for teachers is a misguided idea. From my experience teaching in several different schools, I know that there are many other factors that affect student performance: The quality of the teacher is just one of them. Unless the VAM scores can control for all other factors (which they can’t), I disagree with their use in high-stakes consequences for our teachers.

  6. Linda/RetiredTeacher

    Of course, most teachers do not cheat; however, in this atmosphere of high-stakes testing, there is a great deal of teaching to the test and “test invalidation. I know because I was a witness. If tests are going to be used to evaluate teachers. they must be designed to do that and they must be professionally proctored and administered. Hopefully teachers will insist on this.

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