Thursday, October 25, 2007

Who will be their champion?

Today's Nashville Scene (adult site---) in "Back to School" highlights the stalemate that is the teacher qualification issue.

In this corner--Gov. Phil Bredesen:

"I am saying that there is great optimism and hope in our data that shows that no matter who you are or where you have come from, if a child is in front of an excellent teacher, and more importantly, a series of excellent teachers, he will make progress and perform well.... "

Of teachers who perform poorly in their first two years, two-thirds still aren’t doing good jobs five years later, according to the data. The reverse is true of good teachers. This means “ can tell a lot from how someone does in the first year or two,” Bredesen explains in his speeches.
This is something Willam Sanders has been saying for years. Frankly, I'd like to see teacher scores published for every parent and taxpayer to see. If I had a child in public schools---I'd want to know if they had an effective teacher or if, again, they'd been assigned to a poor performing teacher. Parents have access to more information about their child's pediatrician than they have of their teachers. They spend much more time with the later.
The governor also favors “tightening up the initial selection process” for teachers. He wants to change the curriculum in education colleges to “make them less of an academic discipline in a university and more of a professional school, like a law school or a medical school.”
Why, why wouldn't their professional organization get behind this?

The the opposite corner--TEA Executive Director Al Mance
“Most teachers just don’t believe that test scores are an accurate reflection of their performance,” Mance says, directly disputing the governor’s assessment of the data. “There are many other things that go into effective teaching, and standardized tests tend to cause teachers to participate in fairly narrow behaviors. If you’re going to be evaluated on your student’s performance on a test, you’d be fairly unintelligent if you didn’t teach to the test. And we don’t want to encourage that. There are so many other things that boys and girls need to learn.”
Likely most employees feel like their annual reviews don't accurately reflect their performance. It's just part of the territory.

The Department of Education has decided that these are the skills children need. They create a test. Teachers are hired to ensure the students learn those skills. So teaching to the test is not necessarily bad. We can all agree that there are many other things that boys and girls need to learn but if they don't have reading, writing and arithmetic down---we don't have the luxury of 'other things'.

So, lacking any logical arguments to put up against Gov. Bredesen's very reasonable suggestions the union throws down the old protectionist 'we're the professionals' card which means 'you don't have a right to speak on this issue'.
"Teaching is much more complex than laypersons understand.”
To paraphrase a dear friend: "This job is too important to be left to the professionals."

Educating the vast majority of our children is not rocket science, my friend, as thousands and thousands of parents (and education professionals) know quite well. There is a whole industry, growing larger every day, that proves that with just a few tools and the right motivation, just about anyone can teach just about any child.

Stuck in failing schools and looking at a life of failure: thousands and thousands of our children.
Both the union and the governor are saying they’ll work together in the upcoming legislative session to improve classroom teaching, but at this point, there doesn’t seem to be much common ground.
So who will be their champion and force these two sides together? House Education Chair Les Winningham (D-Huntsville)---no way. Senate Education Chair Jamie Woodson (R-Knoxville), not likely. She doesn't seem to be that sort of leader and if she was, it'll all have to go back to Winningham's committee and we're back to--no way. It's going to take parents and citizens to get involved in the process and demand accountability for the money spent and more importantly the lives wasted.


eagle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
din819go said...

Kay -- several comments and thoughts -- first -- thanks for posting this.

Question -- if it is true teachers are ineffective after two years why are they still in schools with tenure (yuck) and protected from being fired three years later?

If parents can teach their children better than the so called professional educators why have education schools on their own not transformed to meet these challenge?

Children need a solid foundation in reading, math and writing as you mentioned. Yet, in most cases when this is discovered lacking the "Teacher" passes the child on to the next "teacher" as they are unwilling to address the issue and improve the child's core compentencies.

MNPS is trying to redistrict as we speak. The State is breathing hard down the failing district's neck to move teachers out of the system (I hope) and to other schools. Yet, the union gets a voice in this. The union gets a voice in whether or not teachers (good ones) are incented to teach in the more challenging environments. Even the district is complaining about what the State if requiring it to do.

Something is sorely wrong with a system that puts the needs of adults before the needs of children and families and the needs of the community. This district needs to be proactive. Propose effective solutions (with the input from all stakeholders) and then tell the extremely weak board of education this is what we want to do, here is in the empirical evidence behind these decisions and here are the expected results. Will they? I doubt it! Why? Someone please tell me!

Educators wake up!! The public is waking up to the poor job many of you are doing!! If you are truly a professional (many are) then please wake up your peers and demand strong teachers (and leaders) in each building; better education and screen criteria for applicants in college; end of social promotion; restrat the pre-first program and the list goes on and on.

This is the perfect time to revolutionize education in Nashville. So...educators are you up to the challenge?

Thank you --

Kay Brooks said...

Why are they still around? Because their union is very effective. Because they have members and former educators on the right committees and in power.

Because the MNPS BOE wholesale approves tenure without actual investigation or public input.

Because education schools are part of the protection process of the profession, since the days of Horace Mann.

Why the next teacher to get the inadequately taught child doesn't out the former teacher is beyond me. Seems to me they are complicit at that point.

Yup, too often it's about the adults, not the children.

The unions and the Chamber got what they paid for. A school board that can be relied upon to rubber stamp.

I said it in the summer of 2006 and I'll keep saying it: If you keep electing the same people to the school board you'll get the same school system.