Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Students Evaluating Teachers

Reformy John King has decreed what students think is important. He didn't ask them whether they wanted Common Core, and he didn't consider how they'd feel when 70% of them fail the tests. He didn't ask them whether they wanted to lose their neighborhood schools, or the large part of their neighborhoods they'd lose along with them. After all, his kids don't go to those schools anyway, so why should he care about that?

He did, though, decide that what kids think will help decide their teachers' ratings. Of course that's a good idea. While he's enforcing laws that mean test scores will determine whether or not teachers keep their jobs, he wants to make sure the kids' opinions count. But actually, if tests are the only things that matter, opinions are not that important. In fact, the Common Core advocates often say they don't wish to read writing about how people feel--what's important is how well they produce tedious essays analyzing other tedious essays.

I can go various ways when I teach. In my current classes, most kids are pretty happy. It's my job to teach them English, they want and need to learn it, and things kind of work out. I actually believe they ought to have fun and be happy when learning. I believe it's part of my job to let them know and see that English can be a thing of joy, that their lives can be joyful, and that this whole project can be a win-win.

I act differently when the class revolves around a test. Tests are not fun for me. It's tough for me to pretend they'll be otherwise for my students. But hey, if NY State says my kids can't graduate without passing the English Regents exam, I'll do everything in my power to help them. I really can't worry about how much kids like me, or don't, if the test is my job. And if the test is my job, the entire class is test prep. I'll read every word the kids write, but write they will, and I will do whatever I can think of to compel them to do it.

It would be much better if geniuses like Bill Gates and Reformy John would just let me do my job. I certainly know it better than they do.

I personally believe students should be happy in school. I think we can make them happy and make them learn at the same time. But I don't believe for one minute that the reformy crowd gives a damn how my kids feel or what they think. It's disgraceful that they pretend otherwise with these student surveys.

How many years has Bloomberg been surveying the parents while ignoring their clear-stated desire for reasonable class sizes? If you think the reformy crowd cares about the kids we serve every day, you're spending way too much time reading NY Post editorials. Or NY Times editorials. Personally, I don't see a whole lot of difference.
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