Some Weekend Links

Via TIME: Mitt Romney’s big school choice ideas?  Actually pretty small.  But they are doing more choice in Denver – here’s a look at how it’s going (pdf).  Adam Emerson on choice accountability in Florida’s McKay program via Fordham.

Young Education Professionals is planning a conference for June 23 (Saturday) – just $15 and you get lunch.  And if you follow community college policy this MDRC evaluation is a must-read.

In New York they’re fighting about releasing teacher information – again.  NY Daily News ed board goes ‘A Few Good Men’ here and NY Post here.  Across the country in LA, on the increasingly fewer days they’re working teachers there face a new evaluation paradigm.

Teacher bloggers or aspiring ones: A blogging seminar on writing and social media skills in August.

Heard a rumor the other day that Mary Wells doesn’t listen to bluegrass CDs, she just grabs Kentucky and puts it up on her shoulder like a boom box.

And don’t forget we’re hiring another analystamong other roles.

11 Replies to “Some Weekend Links”

  1. For thirty years, until 2007, I taught in a suburban school district located in Los Angeles County, not far from the city of Los Angeles. Every other year the other teachers and I received our “Stull Evaluation.” This meant we had to show the principal the progress made by our students over the course of the year, AS REQUIRED BY LAW. Each time I was evaluated, I brought in a boxful of evidence to support student progress. My box contained benchmark tests, individual reading tests, compositions, daily work, checklists and other forms of work to demonstate student progress. In addition to that, students’ scores from standardized tests were kept in cumulative files that could be viewed by the principal at any time.

    Since 1971 CA school district administrators were required by law (Stull Act) to evaluate teachers based on student progress. However, some districts just ignored this law, probably because it was too much work to become familiar with the progress of the students in every teacher’s class.

    Apparently John Deasy of the Los Angeles Unified School District, along with other California school leaders, chose to ignore this law. That’s why the lawsuit was named Doe vs. Deasy and not “Doe vs. the Teachers.”

    Teachers are NOT against tests; they use them all the time. They are not against being evaluated on student progress as long as multiple and fair measures are used. What teachers are against is being evaluated on the basis of one ten-dollar group test that may or may not be valid. Wouldn’t you be? The teachers in Los Angeles are likely concerned that they will be judged “ineffective” on the basis of the standardized test, just as they were by the Los Angeles Times in 2010. Fortunately the judge in this particular case left it to the district and the teachers to work out the details of this evaluation. Since I was evaluated this way for so many years, I know it is not that difficult to prove student progress. Most teachers like to brag about their students’ progress so most will likely be pleased to have the opportunity to show what they’ve accomplished during the school year. Also, when a pretest is used in September, it’s not that difficult to show progress for almost all students.

    For many years I was a reading specialist who worked closely with classroom teachers. Almost all of them kept careful records of student progress. When a child did not progress normally, the teacher and the parents were almost always concerned and tried to find out how to help the child.

    During tough economic times, public sector employees are often targets of resentment over their decent salaries, job security and pensions. There is often a mad dash to save money by dismissing senior teachers (and other public servants) or even eliminating their positions altogether. This is likely why teachers are being targeted for problems not of their making. The situation in Los Angeles is a perfect example. John Deasy obviously did not know about the Stull Act or, worse, chose to ignore it. Will he be held accountable? I hope so.

    Let’s join together to stop the scapegoating of our schoolteachers. It can only hurt the students who depend on these public servants for their formal instruction.

    This blog seems to celebrate each and every victory over the American schoolteacher. You need to ask yourself why. How will this improve education in our country? Is improving education your true purpose? If not, what is?

  2. Linda, since your are retired you are probably fortunate.
    Those of us (or our spouses) who have not retired from teaching are not. The writing on the wall is that they will lose a good portion of their pension, a pension they accepted instead of asking for higher pay. As the lady ask President Obama, is this my new reality?
    Yes, it is for teachers and other public employees. However, people like Wendy Kopp, Ms Kenny, Michelle Rhee, Whitney Tilson, Mr. Canada, and Mr. Rotherham will do very well while shedding crocodile tears for teachers.

  3. Linda: Thanks for sharing your experiences — I think that, unfortunately, many (most?) people in education policy these days have forgotten the realities of being a classroom teacher (if they ever knew them in the first place).

  4. Phillip: Yes, it’s a sad time for teachers but I’m sure you’re telling all your relatives, friends, students etc. not to become a K-12 teacher. We’ll see the consequences of all this teacher-bashing in just a few years. I have no doubt about that.

    Attorney DC: It’s strange that so many teachers have gone through their “Stull Evaluation” and yet no news stories picked up on this. John Deasy had the nerve to imply that “the unions” were responsible for not observing the law in Los Angeles even though it was clearly the fault of administration. Teachers are basically not fighters but they always win in the end.

  5. Linda: I hope that more teachers become fighters! Too many of them are “people pleasers” and idealists, which doesn’t bode well for protecting their own rights (and can hurt the best education of their students). In the meantime, you and I (along with other former teachers and teacher-advocates) can do the best we can to help. In fact, I don’t think we’re helping enough… what can we do to end this assault on our nation’s teachers before the damage becomes irreversible?

  6. There are different ways of “fighting.” Teachers are the people in the classrooms. They are the ones teaching our children, our neighbors’ children, and our grandchildren. This is why, in the end, they are always supported by the public. So, to use the words of Wendy Kopp (although of course I know she wasn’t referring to teachers) teachers are the doers and the builders. Just as you and I know how hard most teachers work, the average citizen knows too. Right now, because of the recession, there is resentment but that will pass, as it always does once these jobs are no longer sought.

    We can see from this blog that many people want to be educational writers, bloggers, “wonks,” testing executives, grant writers, charter operators, consultants etc. but “no one” (not even you and I) want to be teachers in this climate.

    And so teachers are fighting just by doing their jobs and they will “win” when people cannot be found to replace them.

    The most harm will be done to poor kids who will be herded into test-prep academies with charter operators who will pocket money saved by having large classes and poorly paid at-will teachers. This is what we’ve had in “higher” education for many years and it’s very difficult to get rid of them once they’ve been in operation. Only when the majority of our citizens care about “those kids” will anything be done to stop it. Will we ever see that day?

    To answer your question directly, I don’t think there’s much more we can do at the present time. I’m depending on supply and demand.

  7. Linda, I point out the stupidity of what people like Mr. Rotherham and Ms. Rhee/Johnson et. al. are doing. I’ll point out that if you put your licks in at a urban school, or any school, you will get a sympathetic ear from the hiring person at your next job.
    For ones considering TFA, I’ll point them to Gary Rubenstein and urge them to read up. My hope for those that would try TFA (with its perks) is that being aware of the limitations of TFA and the training, that they might seek out more and do a better job.

  8. Hey Phillip, I followed the Arts links back a ways. I happen to teach science at a performing arts high school. Not, an “arts-infused” school. And, I’m a classical violist. I would like to suggest to whomever is reading this that all those ideas about the application of standardized tests to the arts is simply insane.

    Perhaps some of those who propose such tests hope that, “if they agree to test for it, we can have it”. If that is the thinking, it is very misguided.

    And, fwiw, ALL schools should be infused with the arts. If you aren’t a performing arts school with all its messy requirements and trade-offs, you are just a marketing gimmick for charter proponents. Most human children benefit from a fully-rounded educational experience.

  9. Ahem,

    As the report on choice at Denver specifically mentioned: Seats are good schools are scarce.

    The word is “SCARCE”. Scarcity means a good is physically limited in supply and desirable. And that means it commands a price. And that means that price ALLOCATES THAT GOOD TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER.

    So, some students are being denied seats at the school of their choice. According to the edu-reformers, education is a civil right. How can someone be denied their civil rights based upon SCARCITY?

    So, it was never a teacher union problem because the good schools have unions. It was a scarcity problem. There are simply not enough good teachers to go around. Choice cannot solve a scarcity problem. Choice about where to buy gas does not create more gasoline.

    Hmmmm….sounds like the doctor issue, or the nurse issue, or the lawyer issue, or just about any labor market.

    So, the question is now very fundamental: How do we attract the kind of quality we need to meet this demand? There is only one solution. Pay more and provide greater benefits.

    There is only one problem with this free market solution. It is politically unacceptable.

    My god, the edu-reform movement is chocked full of the most boneheaded contradictions. What fills the heads of these policy experts. Well, from the Navy, it is a four letter word that is not polite to mention in company.

    I am no economist, but I did pick up the into text and read it during lunch. Is it too much to ask that our edu-leaders be intelligent enough to do that?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.