Higher Ed Diversity, Plus Teacher Evaluation and Pensions!

50Can has an important look at teacher evaluation out today.  The WSJ says unions in Wisconsin are losing members in the wake of the Walker reforms. And Steven Greenhut looks at pension reform politics in San Jose. 

The Education Trust writes-up a new U of Michigan paper looking at diversity (and hidden behind a paywall) in higher education. Punchline: Improved access at selective schools, but big gaps.

9 Replies to “Higher Ed Diversity, Plus Teacher Evaluation and Pensions!”

  1. I can’t stand articles like the one cited above at the ConnCan website, where they try to flatter teachers (‘Great teachers change lives. They inspire and motivate students, and set them on a path for future success.’) and then turn around and support intrusive, inaccurate teacher evaluation methods that sap the esprit de corps of the very teachers they pretend to honor.

    When will people wake up and see that a single teacher CANNOT be held responsible for the academic achievement of a student: The student’s own effort and skills, the student’s family and peer support, the school administration, class supplies, required curriculum and MANY other factors (all out of the control of a teacher) all determine the eventual success or failure of a given student.

    In addition, the student tests and testing regimes used are woefully inadequate when used to assess “teacher effectiveness” (and were never meant to be used that way).

    I have to say I’m glad I left teaching before this testing madness took hold so strongly – what a dispiriting world to teach in today.

  2. Sadly, Attorney, you are quite correct. If Walker’s minions are successful and Wisconsin teachers act out of fear and ignorance, nothing will prevent a free fall of educational attainment by our students. Thing is, even if teacher unions are greatly diminished in some states, there will be others that will hold on for some years.

    The really strange thing is, unions did not cause any of the problems we seen in American today. Greed and deregulation plus lack of enforced oversight under Clinton and Bush led to the economic meltdown. Not unions. And certainly not public employee unions. But conservatives can never, ever be wrong about anything. So, the rest of us have to take the fall.

  3. Mr. Miller – I’m glad to see someone agrees with me on this issue (although of course I’d prefer to be wrong). It’s bizarre that public employees, who generally are dependable workers making reasonable, middle-income salaries, are for some reason being targeted by politicians of both parties and the media in recent years. Why?

  4. It’s called divide and conquer.

    Public employees are a reliable democratic voting block. Some of this is about reducing their effectiveness in voting and political organizing. But it is also as much about stirring up resentment among and winning the votes of those with lower end jobs who don’t have the pensions and benefits that public sector employees have earned over the years.

  5. Kent: Your take is probably accurate, but depressing nonetheless. How sad that middle-income voters are being turned against each other by an organized political machine. Do lower-income voters really think their lives will be improved if we strip middle-income public workers of basic benefits?

  6. I wish I knew Attorney. OK, I do have a guess. About 40 years ago, the brain trust of the ex-Goldwater clan teamed up with sympathetic business leaders in key industries to plan a coup of the GOP. Reagan became the unwitting Trojan Horse and out poured an incessant slime of the politics of destruction. They won. We lost. We continue to lose. And we lose because, as you allude in your response to Kent, the Dark Side is rather good at convincing low-information voters that up is down and the Cubs will totally win the World Series this year.

    Low-income or low-information voters really do not analyze what’s going on in their world, reflexively relate it their knowledge of the past, and ask pertinent questions of either themselves or their presumptive overlords. However, it should be noted there are plenty of higher-income voters who have had to climb the social Darwinian ladder of corporate success and, that to them, anything Progressive or Democratic is just so much weakness. And such weakness makes one potential prey for the Puritan’s Devil. Sucks for us the Puritan paranoia lives in America to this day.

    No, I’m not exaggerating or making stuff up. The Kleptrocacy that has been running our country for the past 20 years, does not always win and can be defeated, just as FDR did lo’ those many decades ago. Perhaps our educational system has failed, after all. Normally, I think this whole attack on teachers and public schooling is just another GOP fear game but you know what?

    If our kids really understood 20th Century history, they would have some appreciation for the rise of unionism and enlightened regulation of capitalism. But because few curricula seldom have of time to teach 20th Century anything, our children only get schooled about contemporary history in a haphazard way. I’m not saying this is part of some plot, but it’s just the sorry state of reality we must now deal with.

  7. I would like to comment on Attorney DC’s original post. I personally changed my career to teaching because I wanted to make a difference in a child’s life. I do pour my heart and soul into all that I do for my students to succeed. I work in an inner city school with high-quality teachers and I have enjoyed every minute of it even if I am trying to pick up the pieces every morning from the terrible life my students face at night. It is scary to me to think that I may not receive a “good” grade on my evaluation because my student hasn’t eaten for days, had his/her house raided by the police, or just doesn’t value education like others. I am all for an evaluation system because some teachers are in a routine for years and do not implement the latest theories and teaching practices, but this evaluation needs to be fair. Why will teachers want to teach in a city school and not get into a high achieving suburban school? Shouldn’t we hold parents accountable for the child they brought into this world? Maybe they should be evaluated and if they get state assistance it could be lowered or higher based on how their evaluation is. Maybe then we would see some changes.

  8. The very principles our education reformers support are these:

    1. Teachers are extremely important to the success of every child, and to the economic growth of this nation.

    2. They must be held accountable.

    3. The testing regime and evaluation system are unforgiving and inaccurate.

    4. Pay is not an issue. Good teachers do the job for the psychic rewards of their moral calling.

    5. Education is a civil right.

    6. Every child has a right to a perfect, free education.

    Not a single one of these is a free market principle. Not a single one of these can attract the kind of quality talent we need.

    The edu-debate is long past dead. R needs a job. R needs his status. He and plenty of empty headed edu-reformers could slip down the status hill into the run of the mill populace and never get back up that slippery slope.

    The fundamental idea that a private market can allocate the civil right of education is entirely risible.

    And this is where R and his posse stand: It is pure idiocy.

  9. To Janine: I wanted to write back to your comment and to thank you for your service teaching in our neediest schools. I agree that it’s unfair and ridiculous for politicians to hold teachers accountable for student performance when that performance is affected substantially by myriad factors out of the control of any teacher. You’re right in thinking that these policies will only encourage good teachers to avoid working in the hardest schools, unfortunately.

    Keep up the good work!

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