An update to this thread comes from this op-ed by Allison LaFave, a teacher in a charter school in NYC. She says:
Last week, Deborah Kenny wrote an op-ed piece (in the NY Times) decrying the heavy influence of test
scores on teacher evaluations. Kenny rightfully claimed that the
practice “undermines principals and is demeaning to teachers” and leaves
little room for innovative teaching and learning. She went
on to say that test-based evaluations inhibit the “culture of trust"
between principals and teachers and “discourage the smartest, most
talented people from entering the profession.”
While I agree that test-based evaluations are inherently flawed (when
was the last time our politicians, Democrats or Republicans, truly
analyzed a Pearson
test?), I am baffled by Kenny’s ultimate argument. It seems that
Kenny bashes test-based evaluations because ... wait for it ... they
make it harder for her to fire teachers she doesn’t like – specifically a
teacher whose students performed “exceptionally well” on the state
Teachers aren’t statistics, but they also aren’t part of some
school-wide homecoming court. Administrators shouldn’t cast votes for
the teachers they like or dislike. They should work to support all
teachers who act in the best interest of students.
As someone who has worked in a non-union school, I can tell Ms. Kenny
what violates trust between teachers and administrators. Knowing that
you can be fired for your personality. Knowing that there is a fresh
crop of well-intentioned, starry-eyed Teach for America kids who can
take your place in the time it takes to make a phone call. Knowing that
you will be scorned for using your allotted sick days and guilted into
working through lunch, during prep time, and hours after the final
school bell rings.
As a society, we need good teachers. But they cannot all be saviors, counselors, comics, AND able to teach their subjects. As taxpayers, we are basically paying for teachers to teach the students to the outcomes that the state tests mandate.
What is it we want from teachers?
End of update.
This farewell to teaching comes from a teacher in North Carolina via Diane Ravich's blog. It is heartbreaking.
This could have been written any time in the last 5 years but that it comes as we face the challenge of I-1240 make it particularly applicable. Why?
Because there are those who want to lay the blame for everything - everything - that is wrong in public education at the feet of public education. The principals, the administrators and especially, the teachers.
Not the legislators for not funding schools or allowing poor legislation to be created or stand.
Not lazy politicians looking for a quick-fix or the next gimmick or fad.
And not a society that is willing to overlook two things.
One, 23% of American children live in poverty. We are the only first-world country to have such a damning and staggering statistic and it is to our shame that we look the other way.
Two, remember the Great Recession? That has plunged even more families (and their children) into poverty or near-poverty and stripped more resources from school budgets.
The Yes side pays lip service to the underfunding but insists that charters "have cracked the code" and will show the way. Even though that has not happened in one district in this country with charters. Not one district with charter schools in the U.S. has closed the achievement gap.
Poverty does NOT stop at the schoolhouse door. Also on the ed reformers lips - if you say poverty, they say you are a bigot because "you think poor children can't learn." Absolutely false.
ALL children can learn but if a child is hungry, that child is not paying attention. Can't see the board because that child needs glasses, that child can't learn. Is on the verge of homelessness? Worried and can't concentrate.
We ignore these issues at our own peril because in 10 years we will be at the same place - wringing our hands and asking why nothing is working.
I'm not going to reprint all what this teacher - Kris Monroe - has to say but here's what troubled and moved me:
Let me cut to the chase: I quit. I am resigning my position as a
teacher in the state of North Carolina—permanently. I am quitting
without notice (taking advantage of the “at will” employment policies of
this state). I am quitting without remorse and without second
thoughts. I quit. I quit. I quit!
I refuse to be led by a top-down hierarchy that is completely
detached from the classrooms for which it is supposed to be responsible.
I will not spend another day under the expectations that I prepare
every student for the increasing numbers of meaningless tests.
I refuse to be an unpaid administrator of field tests that take
advantage of children for the sake of profit.
I will not spend another day wishing I had some time to plan my
fantastic lessons because administration comes up with new and inventive
ways to steal that time, under the guise of PLC meetings or whatever.
I’ve seen successful PLC development. It doesn’t look like this.
I will not spend another day wondering what menial, administrative
task I will hear that I forgot to do next. I’m far enough behind in my
I will not spend another day wondering how I can have classes that
are full inclusion, and where 50% of my students have IEPs, yet I’m
given no support.
will not spend another day in a district where my coworkers are both on
autopilot and in survival mode. Misery loves company, but I will not
be that company.
I refuse to watch my coworkers being treated like untrustworthy slackers
through the overbearing policies of this state, although they are the
hardest working and most overloaded people I know.
I refuse to watch my district’s leadership tell us about the bad news
and horrific changes coming towards us, then watch them shrug
incompetently, and then tell us to work harder.
I’m tired of watching my students produce amazing things, which show
their true understanding of 21st century skills, only to see
their looks of disappointment when they don’t meet the arbitrary
expectations of low-level state and district tests that do not assess
I refuse to hear any more about how important it is to differentiate
our instruction as we prepare our kids for tests that are anything but
differentiated. This negates our hard work and makes us look bad.