Monday, July 18, 2011

We Sell Out (and Still Get Nothing)

I'm amazed that we've actually accepted the State's unproven and invalid rating system, even for a limited number of schools. In case anyone hasn't noticed, post-Rhee DC just fired 5% of its teachers, despite a highly questionable rating system. Is there any remotely defensible reason to bring such a system to NY?

Apparently, a large factor is money. The state, in its infinite wisdom, saw fit to withhold up to 65 million dollars if these schools did not accept its brilliant new evaluation system. You know, the one with the rubric that says you need to call on absolutely every kid in your classroom no matter what. Aside from the obvious problems with such a system, the irony of its imposition by a city that doesn't give a damn what teachers or parents think is incredible.

I'll take it a step further, though. I do not believe that good teaching can be encapsulated in a rubric. First of all, it's inconceivable to me that those who regularly administer flawed tests, who think that tests are the only measure of good education, could even conceive of what is and is not good teaching. More importantly, even if they could, it's the height of hubris to imagine that we've even conceived of all manner of good teaching. I mean, sure, these are the same people who come to us each year saying you must do this, that, or the other, and the things they said must be done last year were an utter mistake, so it's unlikely they'd know. These are the same people who rename old ideas and present them as not only new, but compulsory.

In spite of the people who write the laws, there are still great teachers who get ideas of their own on a fairly regular basis. It's more than plausible to me that such teachers can come up with great lessons that will grab kids, and yet not fit the rubric. Though they may reach and inspire kids, they'll need to be rated "ineffective" or whatever the new "U" may be.

Bill Gates says there has to be a rubric, and he has all that money, so Barack Obama and Andrew Cuomo can't jump high enough to show their agreement. So much for democracy. Most Americans, unlike Cuomo and Obama, think that rich people ought to pay enough in taxes so as to preclude our perpetual financial crisis.

And while we're on the topic of money, how much of this goes to teachers? Absolutely nothing. Here in fun city, for years we've been restricted to how much of a salary increase we could get by a strict and unvarying pattern. The only way we've been able to improve on that has been through increases, and often draconian ones. Yet all city employees have receive double 4% increases except teachers.

How much of this 65 million bucks goes to teachers, without a raise for years? Not one red cent. Likely the money will go to enforce "reforms" like the new evaluation system, which will benefit absolutely no one.

So where's the upside? If anyone can answer, inquiring minds need to know.
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