Thursday, October 05, 2017

New and Improved--Now With Only Sixteen Dead (So Far)

Donald Trump went to Puerto Rico, a state that's been thoroughly devastated by a natural disaster, and spoke about how great things were. You've only had sixteen deaths (so far). Fantastic! After Katrina there were over a thousand! So what if your homes are ruined? So what if you have no electricity and no water? Look on the bright side! We're doing a fantastic job!

Trump always thinks he's doing a fantastic job. Our health care program is great! Tens of millions of Americans will be without health care, but it will be available to them. All they have to do is pay a little more. For ten or twenty thousand dollars a month, everyone will have health care. And really, what's that? I mean, I go golfing every weekend at one of my private clubs, and the government pays way more than that. So what's the big whoop?

Trump is always on top of problems. If there's terrorism, let's stop Muslims from coming into the country until we know what the hell is going on. His supporters cheer. But let's base the ban on national origin rather than religion, so we don't piss off our good friends in Saudi Arabia. Of course, when some white guy takes a machine gun and randomly murders people in a crowd, or when a whole lot of mass killings are actually done by white guys, we don't ban white guys from the country until we know what the hell is going on.

Of course anyone who's been watching Trump knows he lacks the sensitivity you'd generally find in a number two pencil. I try not to watch him too much because my stomach's getting progressively weaker these days. But there he is, tossing paper towels to the crowd. Maybe next he'll go to Las Vegas and toss band aids or something. Whatever he does, he'll still be who he is, and that alone is unconscionable on multiple levels.

Sometimes I'm at meetings and some administrator will say that 98% of the teachers in our school got ratings of effective or better. My mind immediately goes to those that didn't. I know they're hearing the same thing I am, and I can only imagine how they feel. Often I need not imagine and I hear about it first hand. How would you feel sitting there and hearing you're an aberration, part of the bottom two per cent?

What if you're rated ineffective? What if it happens twice and you now have to go to some arbitrator to prove you are not incompetent? What if you're required to do this based on a system you find incomprehensible? What if you're required to do this based on a system that virtually everyone finds incomprehensible? That's a tough mountain to climb. What if it's not you, but the system that's ineffective?

For the first two years of this system, I was rated effective. My supervisor rated me highly effective, but the test scores pulled me down. I regard the scores as nonsense, so I was pretty angry at first. Then I saw teachers rated ineffective who were pulled up to developing and I felt a little better about it. My loss was their gain, and the only difference between HE and E was the chance to get one fewer observation.

This year, because of the matrix, I got similar results and was rated HE. It doesn't make me feel like I'm a better teacher. It makes me feel like this particular system works marginally better for me, and also for a lot of teachers in my building. I will grant that the matrix is likely an improvement, and that ineffective-rated teachers may come up in schools like mine. Of course, if you're in a school that gets low test scores and you also have a crazy supervisor, that's gonna be a problem.

So when UFT announces how few teachers got negative ratings, I'm not ready to jump up and do the happy dance. Unfortunately, I know exactly how those people feel. It's bad when admin releases favorable numbers like that and you aren't among them. It could be worse when you get those numbers from the union. Are those teachers really ineffective? Who knows? This particular system certainly fails to conclusively establish anything. Will people be fired as a result of two consecutive ineffective ratings? They certainly will.

Will the reformies look at the low numbers of ineffective teachers under this system and say the reforms need to be even reformier?

Bet on it.
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