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5 Replies to “Clips & Your Chance To Run The NYC Marathon”
Poor embatttles Michelle Rhee, unrecognized champion of poor black kids.
Best comment from the Post comments:
Free Sawchuk link:
I reviewed the Sawchuck piece concerning new methods districts are using to select teachers and have the following criticism: School administrators, pundits and writers continue to treat ‘teacher quality’ as if it’s a fixed, unchanging entity.
However, in my experience teaching in a variety of schools (public and private) teacher quality is influenced significantly by other factors including the school, administrators, students, parents, courses, and materials. That is, Teacher A may do a great job teaching honors history classes, but flounder if he is assigned to teach remedial English. Teacher B may do a wonderful job working with students in a small special eduation class, but have less success teaching a large general ed course. Teacher C may be a wonderful Spanish teacher, but struggle if the principal throws two periods of World History at him with little notice or time to prepare. Teacher D may be a great teacher, but have a hard time teaching a particular class due to a highly disruptive student who is not removed or disciplined by the administration.
Media and education pundits love to focus on hiring the “good” teachers and firing the “bad” teachers — while in the real world, the issue is much more malleable. Teachers have little control over their course assignments, materials, students, discipline policies or any of the other factors that influence education. In that case, it is ignorant to continually attempt to affix labels on teachers, dividing them into black and white categories of teacher quality.
In response to Attorney DC: While I appreciate your fine point that teacher quality is not a fixed item, my article makes a point of noting that no entry standards are perfect. It notes that principals often must choose among promising novices that they must help to develop as professionals. Nowhere does the story reference “fixing labels” or identifying “bad” teachers. – Stephen
Mr. Sawchuk: Thank you for taking the time to respond to my comments. I’m sorry if my post appeared to attribute the terms “good” and “bad” teachers to your column – You’re right that those words aren’t used in your column at all. In fact, I appreciate that the measures you wrote about (teacher auditions, videos of teaching lessons) are a departure from the current trend of basing teacher evaluations on student test scores on a standardized test.
My post above stemmed from my belief (as a former teacher) that the problems in today’s schools should not be blamed on “bad” teachers: First, truly bad teachers are relatively rare, and Second, teachers in general are a relatively small part of the student-achievement problem. The national movement these days towards focusing on testing students in order to rate their teachers is severely misguided.
When I worked as a teacher (and when I was a student), I saw that well-behaved students from supportive families who attended school with other motivated, well-behaved students usually did well in school. Students from low-income families, students who did not speak English, students with emotional and learning disabilities and students who frequently misbehaved or skipped school often did poorly in school. Student behavior was a major obstacle to learning in most of the low-income classes I observed or taught.
Policies that put the blame for gross differences between groups of children on the students’ teachers will, in my opinion, do nothing other than drive teachers away from working in the most difficult schools.