Monday, July 9, 2012

SNAP Goes the Teacher...

Today, I saw Rick Hess' blog, "A Good Teacher Is Hard To Find".  While I didn't find this guest post by

The trick isn't obsession over what qualifies a teacher to join the profession. Our policies should instead be loose on entrance and tight on results--encouraging maximum flexibility for states, districts, and charter schools to recruit teachers as they see fit while seeking to find better ways to identify good and bad teachers, reward the good ones and keep them in the classroom, and move out the bad ones.
What this means will vary by district-to-district, school-to-school, but a few quick thoughts:
-we should continue to invest in designing smart and robust teacher evaluation tools, which include value-added measurements of student performance--where appropriate and as a piece of the puzzle.
-teacher compensation should not be linked solely to degrees earned or years of experience but to quality of work, including student achievement.
-we should allow more teachers to enter via alternative certification programs, and give charter schools increased flexibility to hire the kinds of teachers befitting their unique missions.
-schools and districts should consider a classroom career ladder that permits good teachers to remain in the classroom while affording them opportunities to grow professionally.

In the same way there's not a single "what works" for identifying good teachers before they enter the profession, there's similarly not a one-size-fits-all on the evaluation end. But the broad principal--loose on entrance, tight on results--will permit us to rethink how we go about recruiting, training, and evaluating teachers in the 21st century.
Ooohhhh.  This sounds awe-inspiring frankly, but my experience just doesn't add up to this assessment from a man who has probably NEVER been in front of a classroom in his life (Daniel is, program manager in education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute). 

This was my take on the issue at hand:

As a former science teacher (now homeschool mom) - my perspective is quite different. I have a M.S. in biology. I was alternatively certified. I taught at a charter school.

Though I followed the state standards for each of the grades I taught and used the books appropriate for the age level - I was deemed "too hard". I "asked too much of my students". I was finally put on a plan of improvement after being called on the carpet in front of parents in my principal's office numerous times.

In my experience, principals don't want good teachers because parents complain. Good teachers don't want to teach the way they know they should because they'll likely be constantly having to explain themselves to avoid firing.

All this nonsense about linking student test scores to teacher pay and all the other "accountability" reforms (ala Jeb Bush) that states keep signing on to, are not going to amount to a hill of beans other than to keep the really good teachers from signing up to teach. How can one teach when you're suddenly responsible for whether a child had breakfast or a fight with his mother the morning of the test?

It cost me a chunk of money to get my alternative certification just to have to constantly justify my reasoning behind trying to make my students do something more than the 'busy work' the parents apparently desired and the principal wanted. Why in the WORLD would good people desire to have that kind of job other than the sheer idealism that many of us have entering the teaching profession (that is soon beaten out of us to the point that we leave)?

Until the now-majority of PARENTS decide they want more for their children than a SNAP card, we're all sunk. No amount of coercion by a state or federal government will fix that. As soon as parents/students have to reap the whirlwind that would be ZERO public assistance for the results of allowing/perpetuating mediocrity, stupidity and sloth, things will change. Until then? Buckle up for a very bumpy ride!
Here's a very interesting article I also found in EdWeek today.  Check this one out as well.  "The Pros and Cons of Accountability".