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9 Replies to “A New Model T?”
Ms. Baratz-Snowden makes the same point I made in the previous post — albeit in a more studied way — as follows:
“10. Merely eliminating tenure without addressing the conditions that lead to the recruitment, development, and retention of teachers will neither address the major causes for the presence of inadequate teachers in the system nor lead to significantly improved teacher quality.”
This brings up an issue I’ve long wondered about: Why have collective bargaining at all? I believe that collective bargaining in education leads to a lack of ownership on the part of teachers with regard to their working situations. It also encourages teachers to act more like victims with each passing contract.
Doesn’t collective bargaining itself hurt our best teachers at the expense of saving our worst? Is collective necessary? Could it be phased out and if so how? Doctors, lawyers, engineers, and architects don’t get their jobs this way. Why should teachers?
If much of what we’re talking about here is the long term professionalization of teaching, why shouldn’t we — and teachers — want professional models of negotiation and compensation?
It seems like you might be confusing “professionalizaton” with “privatization.” Good luck in your fantasies. There are a lot more single mother teachers out there struggling to pay family tier health care premiums then you might imagine. I guarantee they don’t have the time to read your blog and they fully support collective bargaining keeping them in the middle class. Save your rhetoric for the Duke grads who are considering slumming it after their job at Bear Sterns dried up.
I was impressed with Morgaen Donaldson’s paper on teacher evaluations as well: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2009/06/teacher_evaluation.html
The paper suggests that some believe that civil rights law is sufficient to protect teachers (and everyone else) from improper dismissal, but then doesn’t address this criticism. Instead, it gets into formalizing teacher evaluation of teachers to determine who deserves tenure.
Why do public school teachers need the special protection of tenure?
Thanks for the feedback. My mom was one of those single ones you reference who, back in the 1970s, benefited well from union bargaining. But that was almost 40 years ago and times have changed dramatically. In rising numbers of private, parochial, and charter schools we already have effectively done away with collective bargaining. And these seem to be the schools so many parents want their children to attend. I believe that the NEA and AFT would serve their members better in the long run if they became professional organizations like the Bar and the AMA. Another fantasy? Perhaps. But by improving requirements for teacher certification and controlling the number of people who could become teachers, these unions might be able to exert more upward pressure on salary and benefits issues than they can currently — and certainly will be able to in the future. Duke grads who are slumming it might slum a little longer under such circumstances and single moms struggling with health care might do better in the end as well. You’re right that this unlikely to happen any time soon, but challenging the status quo is what makes reform go. We’re all responsible for putting new ideas out there. Maybe some are too new. But I think the best route to long term success in education is “professionalization” — by whatever means necessary.
Baratz-Snowden wrote in her excellent analysis
“Standardized test scores should not be privileged among output measures of achievement. Multiple measures are necessary—
student work samples, portfolios, results from teacher developed assessments, and other similar resources should all be considered in designing a teacher evaluation system. Credible evidence of student learning should be part of the documentation that teachers
present when they are evaluated or earn tenure. But the current limitations of standardized testing and value-added methodologies and the unintended consequences of focusing on (test scores for teacher evaluation)
The heart of the matter … that evaluation for earning tenure should not be based exclusively, or even predominantly, on results of student standardized test scores.
She makes another great point that is completely overlooked by ideolgues like Klein and Rhee, writing:
“Evaluation should consider the environment in which teaching and learning occur”
“Studies have shown that working-learning conditions and a collaborative school culture with school leadership that involves the community in the school have large effects on both teacher performance and student outcomes.44 Even teachers with excellent pedagogical and content knowledge skills will struggle to be effective in school environments that isolate teachers, are disorderly and unsafe, and have weak administrative leadership.”
And Steve, that is why collective bargaining is absolutely necessary. I respect and usually agree with you, but I see union membership as a basic civic obligation and a statement of self-respect. The “best teachers” come to the profession to share and to help. Teachers who are effective in the insanity of urban education need to “widen their strike zones” and help the team. The team includes adults as well a students.
Donaldson said “The National Research Council’s work on how children learn has produced a growing body of knowledge on how best to teach.” This article, and many others, refer to factors beyond or behind student test scores. We DO know what good teaching looks like – the teacher’s actions in engaging students in learning. Likewise, we DO know what student learning looks like before they take the test. It’s a complex interaction, but when the best practices are implemented (good questions, student involvement, effective use of time, etc) and the anticipated student behaviors occur (time on task, asking appropriate questions, responding to teacher direction, etc) we can, according to the research on teaching and learning, predict whether student learning is occurring.
We don’t need to treat what goes on inside the classroom as a black box. Instead, by using objective data on classroom behaviors, we can provide the feedback to the teacher and to the profession regarding the implementation of researched effective practices and the effectiveness of those interventions on the in-class learning related behaviors of the students.
And it’s not difficult with tools such as the eCOVE Observation Software (www.ecove.net) which makes it easy to collect and view the data. We’ve used it for years and the entire process is very effective in ensuring quality teaching.
I’m puzzled why this dimension of ‘evaluating’ teachers is being ignored. If we value data, why not the data (not an observer’s judgment or impression) on what is occurring in the classroom?
While I am a nontenure teacher right now I agree with the article. I have had teachers growing up that were comfortable in their teaching and did not go the “extra mile” which I feel teachers like this need to be let go, though being tenure it is a big process that many administraters do not want to deal with. Though as a nontenure teacher it is very stressful not knowing if you are going to have a job next year or not and you can be let go for anyreason at all. I feel as teachers we need to be protected no matter how many years we have been teaching. However, we need proof that we are effective teachers if our principals want to let us go. For example, parent letters, co-worker input, standarized test scores and I hesitate to say evulations. I say this because if you have a prinicapl that doesn’t care for you, most likey you will not have a good evulation if they are the only ones evulating you.
While I am a nontenure teacher right now I agree with the article. I have had teachers growing up that were comfortable in their teaching and did not go the “extra mile” which I feel teachers like this need to be let go. However, to let go of tenure teacher is a huge process that many administrators do not want to deal with. Though as a nontenure teacher it is very stressful not knowing if you are going to have a job next year or not and you can be let go for any reason at all. I feel, as teachers we need to be protected no matter how many years we have been teaching. However, we need proof that we are effective teachers if our principals want to let us go. For example, parent letters, co-worker input, standardized test scores and I hesitate to say evaluations. I say this because if you have a principal that doesn’t care for you, most likely you will not have a good evaluation if they are the only ones evaluating you.
However, if you get rid of tenure and don’t need a reason of why you are let go what is going to stop districts from letting go veteran teachers because they make more money then new teachers. I have even heard this happen with 3rd year nontenure teachers, so they can hire brand new teachers for less money.
Overall, I go both ways on the topic of getting rid of tenure. There is never going to be one perfect answer, we have to work as a team to come up with the best answer there is.