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View Diary: New Study -  Merit Pay does NOT work (156 comments)

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  •  Including, as you point out, (10+ / 0-)

    far too many members of the Obama Administration.  Unfortunately for students everywhere, the snake-oil salesmen are on the rise: one that I warned about in a couple of diaries last year just got himself appointed to a seat in the Colorado Senate, where he'll be able to do even more damage than he has as the principal of a "failing" school that he's failed to turn around.  He replaces another "reformer" who's been named to head up Faith-Based Initiatives for the Obama Administration.  Call me paranoid, but I think we supporters of public education ought to start bracing ourselves for a heavy barrage of "friendly" fire.

    •  you also have a new Congressman (7+ / 0-)

      who is sympathetic to merit pay, and who supports charter schools.  

      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Thu May 14, 2009 at 08:53:02 PM PDT

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      •  Jared. (sigh) (5+ / 0-)

        I live in CO-02, and was involved in the primary over Udall's old seat (and man, has he gone off the rails of late - but that's another subject entirely).  We're a heavy shade of blue in an otherwise purple state, so whoever won the Dem primary was gonna win in the general.  Joan Fitz-Gerald was Colorado's first woman Senate President, a strong supporter of public education, and an all-around qualified candidate and seasoned politician.  Jared Polis was a guy with a zillion dollars.  Guess who won.

        Sad thing is, I agree with him on pretty much everything else, but consider education policy a deal-breaker.  Polis favors distance "learning," charter schools, and all manner of other means of lowering the expectations bar - as long as the kids get a piece of sheepskin at the end, who cares what they have to do to earn it?  Grrr...

        •  Hey, I support distance learning, (4+ / 0-)

          having taken advantage of it at a time when I needed it (health problems kept me out of school), but charter schools and merit pay are solutions for problems that don't really exist.

          -5.38, -5.90 Deus mihi iustitiam dabit.

          by cjallen on Thu May 14, 2009 at 09:45:26 PM PDT

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        •  To be clear (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Unitary Moonbat, leonard145b

          I am supportive of expanding and replicating successful models in public education, whether they have district governance or site based governance through a charter. I am just interested in what works for kids.

          Here is a recent piece I wrote on one of my first bills including federal money to expand successful charter schools and also ensuring that chartering entities intervene in unsuccessful charter schools.

          When a program isn't working (e.g. it "lowers expectations") then there needs to be an intervention strategy and the program modified or terminated.

          Always a pleasure to hear input from a constituent,

          Congressman Jared Polis
          polis.house.gov

          •  Thanks for the reply, Congressman (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            leonard145b

            I'm honored that you'd take the time to respond to a constituent - plus, it's really cool to be represented by a congressman who hangs out at DailyKos.  :)

            Still don't think charters are a good idea, since they siphon off funds vital to keeping public schools running.  It's true that there are successful models and individual schools - a lot, probably the majority, of the students in my advanced classes come out of two very good charter schools - but on the whole, their high turnover rates, demoralizing pay and conditions, and lack of collective bargaining power make charters a poor environment in which to learn and teach.  The ones that work are the anomalies, and they usually work well because of the one thing that can't be replicated: the mix of personalities, qualifications, and specialties that forms a dedicated and professional faculty.  The problem, imho, with charter schools is that they rely on the model more than the teachers - a school or district that wants to be successful should invest first in quality faculty, not in some magic-bullet program that promises to raise test scores.

            Distance learning...well, perhaps - maybe - if it were administered through a public school, but as a for-profit long-distance educational enterprise?  No way, not ever - the temptation is too great to turn the thing into a diploma mill, cook the performance measures to make the program look successful, and certify students as being having learned something they very well may not have learned.  

            My own experience with it, a community college class I needed to get my license, was a joke.  I never bought the book, and yet was able to pull a "B" by clicking my way through a few multiple-choice tests and maybe doing one two-page essay.  The course (and again, this was supposedly postsecondary ed) lacked any sense of academic rigor, and I'm almost embarrassed to have it on my c.v. - really, about the kindest thing I can say about it is that everyone played his or her respective role expertly: I paid the fee and sent a few e-mails, the instructor dutifully validated that I'd learned stuff, and the college cashed the check and gave me an 81/2x11 embossed receipt suitable for framing.

            Great example of the problems I see in the education "reform" movement is that new State Senator I mentioned above.  He's gotten a lot of favorable press - and got candidate Obama to visit his school - based on his success in getting 100% of last year's graduating class accepted to college.  I'm not arguing that's not a good thing - no one knows as well as I do the college prospects for an incoming freshman in that particular district - but there are some disturbing realities common to much reporting of charter school success that pop up when one looks past the spin.  

            Foremost among these is that the principal instituted a program-within-a-program by purchasing the curricular services of College Summit, a company that provides (in exchange for taxpayer dollars, natch) a year-long set of lesson plans for getting students to apply for college and scholarships.  It urges students to cast a very wide net, but it doesn't teach any skills beyond how to get into school (plus, it eats up instructional time).  That school's CSAP scores remain low, in most cases lower than those of the comprehensive high school that was dismantled to make room for the superintendent's grand experiment.  This raises a rather disturbing question: now that those students, 83% of whom are unable to write at a "Proficient" level or above, and 93% did not score above "Partially Proficient" in math, have gained admittance to a university, just how successful are they going to be?

            •  response (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Unitary Moonbat

              The problem, imho, with charter schools is that they rely on the model more than the teachers - a school or district that wants to be successful should invest first in quality faculty...

              I certainly agree, but I think you are making a case for charter schools. A district should do as you say, invest in professional development and a quality faculty. If they fail to, why not start some teacher-centric charter schools that do value educators? Many districts simply don't value their educators as they should.

              There is something you should know. Our new State Senator Johnson did not run a charter school, he ran a district school in Mapleton School district. It was mistakedly reported as a charter school because a lot of reporters don't know the difference. Mapleton School District has no charter schools.

              You still need to have me come to your class. No time this year, but next fall make sure to invite me. Contact my scheduler Danielle at our Boulder office.

              Congressman Jared Polis

              •  I'll do that. Tried to get in to see you (0+ / 0-)

                when you came by my school last fall, but the room was more than packed by the time got to the door.  Many of my students did make it in, though, and were impressed not only by what you had to say, but by the fact that you'd spend time in an election year talking to constituents who by definition couldn't vote for you.

                Regarding that rhetorical question, I guess I'd turn it around on you: Why not get rid of the middle man, and re-double our efforts to have our educators valued in public schools?  As we speak, the Boulder Valley School District is coming apart at the seams over the District's "last best offer" to our negotiations team: a 0% COLA, a 1% one-time bonus payoff, and 2 extra days of professional development - even as districts around the state are inking deals for anywhere between 2.5% and 6.25%.  BVSD is one of only a few holdout that are trying to hoard their stimulus money, presumably to pay for outrageous annual bonuses and other programs of dubious efficacy before they'll consent to talking about teacher pay keeping up with the rate of inflation.  I plan on putting up a diary on this around 7 Mountain on Sunday night, and would be honored if you got a chance to stop by the Cave of the Moonbat for a teacher's perspective.

                Sorry if I made it sound as though MESA is a charter school; I know it's not, though like most "small schools" initiatives, it is based on a charter-style model.  It also doesn't change the fact that students in Senator Johnston's school and district are doing measurably worse than they were before Superintendent Ciancio drove the place into the ground.  I'm actually pretty familiar with the story of Mapleton's re-invention of itself - if you've got some time on a plane ride home one of these days, and don't mind an exhaustively long diary, I'd be honored if you'd check out An Educator Hears A Dog Whistle in the Obamamercial.

          •  and given your experience w/Charter you founded (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            leonard145b

            there is clearly a role for using charters to experiment, to try out different models to see whether we can learn from them.

            do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

            by teacherken on Fri May 15, 2009 at 03:45:09 AM PDT

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        •  I think someone raised the Polis signal. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          leonard145b

          That was awfully quick.

          -5.38, -5.90 Deus mihi iustitiam dabit.

          by cjallen on Thu May 14, 2009 at 09:51:38 PM PDT

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        •  here I am in a difficult position (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Unitary Moonbat

          I know Jared and have access to him to offer ideas on educational policy.  For better or worse, he is on relevant House Committee.   And he has important contacts in executive branch - at the swearing in party he through for himself and Betsy Markey, Rahm Emanuel stopped by and talked with him for about 10 minutes.

          By the way, you have the further issue of your new senator, Michael Bennet, as well, with him on relevant Senate Committee.

          In fairness, both have some relevant background, Jared on CO state Board of Ed and as founder and funder of a charter school devoted to meeting needs of English Language Learners, and Bennet as Superintendent in Denver.

          do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

          by teacherken on Fri May 15, 2009 at 03:43:41 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  let me clarify my phrasing a bit (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Unitary Moonbat

            I consider Jared friendly, committed to making public education work.  I have found he is willing to explore alternative ways of looking at things.   He was kind enough to introduce me to Michael Bennet, who is also strongly committed to making public education work.

            I do not agree with them on some issues.  I am unwilling to criticism with broad strokes, because I find that both will tell you WHY they take the positions they do, and my experience with Polis is that if you can provide evidence for a contrary position he is more than willing to consider it.

            I have no doubt that both men are dedicated to what they consider the best interests of the children served by our schools.  We do not always agree.  That makes it incumbent upon me to provide them with sufficient evidence to change their points of view.   In the several years since I met Jared at the 2nd YearlyKos event in Chicago, at the candidates' event organized by NYBri (where, incidentally, he was the only one to recognize my National Board pin and what it said about me), I havae never found him unwilling to consider a reasoned and supported argument.  The positions he takes are intellectually justifiable because of how he arrives at them, but he is not inflexible.  The problem is that sometimes the evidence is not is more experiential than data based, which means that from his point of view it may not be persuasive.

            He is quite concerned about what is best for children.  He also understands that it will first and foremost be qualify teachers who will deliver the most beneficial instruction.  He is not hostile teachers the way some "reformers" are.  

            I am hoping that things like the new EPI study will convince him that a test-score based approach to merit pay is not the way to go.  We will see.

            Peace.

            do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

            by teacherken on Fri May 15, 2009 at 03:54:11 AM PDT

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            •  Don't know Bennett, except by reputation (0+ / 0-)

              which isn't exactly glowing as far as rank and file teachers in Denver are concerned.  

              Jared I've spoken with on a couple of occasions, and I found him to be every bit as friendly, genial, informed, and knowledgable as you did.  I also found him to be willing to consider alternative proposals, but simply considering something doesn't mean he's going to take any of it to heart.  He's a dyed-in-the-wool believer in the new wave of school reforms, and I've got no reason to believe that he's suddenly going to realize that it's always been about strengthening public education, not finding ways to privatize and de-fund it.

              I, too, believe he has the best interests of kids at heart, and he's shown a genuine affinity for the disadvantaged.  Still, by promoting the Balkanization of education, he's failing to realize its central tenet: that we're all in this together.  I also will never understand how he could support any form of privatization - I know he doesn't think that's worked out all that well for the military, and privatized medicine seems to be at a breaking point, utilitarianism-wise - unless it's that unfortunate capitalist streak possessed by so many of the new reformers.

              •  charter schools are not "privatization" (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Unitary Moonbat

                Public charter schools are simply site-based governance within the public education system, nothing more and nothing less. It gives the campus more flexibility for better or for worse, depending on what they make of it.

                Congressman Jared Polis

                •  UFT in NYC runs a charter (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Unitary Moonbat

                  issue of charters is how they are run, to what end.  If they are given the proper flexibility, they can definitely be designed to serve populations who are not thriving in regular public schools.  Clearly that is what you did with charter you founded for ELL in Colorado.  Similarly, a group of Quakers founded a high school charter in Philadelphia with a focus on peace studies and non-violent conflict resolution.

                  In a sense, it would be nice were regular public schools given the degree of flexibility with which some charters have been empowered.

                  do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

                  by teacherken on Sat May 16, 2009 at 09:45:42 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

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