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There is a lot of mistrust between teachers and the Race To The Top administration.

Most of that comes down to testing, and evaluating a teacher based on her students.

One might think that would be ideal.  If you don't teach well, you shouldn't be a teacher.  "You are the weakest link,... Goodbye!"

However with teaching is it not so easy.  I'll give you one example, which I sincerely hope never occurs.  It is so horrible, but it demonstrates a weak link in the process so I'm using it as an example anyway.

If you are the teacher, and every day your students get sodomized while they are at home,  how can anyone teach with that?

"Oh, she's a bad teacher; look at her test results;  look at her students, none of them are engaged.  They are all in their own little world. Let's fire this one."

Now do you get it?  How can anyone be a successful teacher in that environment?  You are so getting fired.

Perhaps they weren't sodomized. Perhaps instead they didn't eat the whole time they were away?   Or perhaps they saw their neighbor get beat up on the street, eye hanging out of his socket?  Or perhaps they were kept up with screaming, and sounds of fist hitting faces?

And the next day they are in front of you in relative safety, the memories burning on their cortex, and you are explaining the  executive branch of government....

"Excuse me, I (the teacher) asked you a question;  if you aren't going to pay attention, you have to leave."  "I ain't leavin"... "Yes you are! You haven't paid attention since you came in.  Get out! now! Take your books! go to compulsory!  You are ruining the educational experience for all these kids.  What's wrong with you kids these days.  You won't have a future because you won't pay attention; you won't learn.."

(Evaluator watching over the internet makes these notes:  failed to control classroom;  creates incident unnecessarily)...

Teachers can't win, and that is why there is such animosity to this system created in some office by someone wholly unfamiliar with what goes on in a student's world.   They think everyone today is growing up just like they grew up, white in a small crime free town,  with a church on every corner...

Furthermore, because these evaluations were thought-out in an office somewhere, there are a rather large number of inconsistencies.

We suddenly have German  and French teachers being rated by how the Spanish teacher did, because there is no evaluator knowing German or French and tests were not created to measure them.  We have the drivers-ed teacher, being rated by how the Physical Education and Health department test out.
Usually the rubrics used to rate teachers, are 1 - 5.   One thing that could assist in the roll out of these new evaluatory programs, would be  that instead of manipulating data to cover the inconsistencies, you simply put down a "5 rating" anywhere there is something that is out of line.

Teachers are worried they will get screwed.  If you do the opposite,  and just hand out 5's whenever there is a category that can't be evaluated, much of the anger will ebb and disappear.  

Teachers don't want free high scores; they want to show they can teach well.  
Putting these 5's in place of items completely out of their control, alleviates the fear and stress that something over which they have no control, will make them unemployed.

Later, as the fact finders pick through these fives throughout the evaluation process, the inconsistencies become apparent, in fact they will jump right out at  you. Then for the following year you can develop actions that match and test those areas in a fair way.

Seeing the problems Tennessee had with their teacher's evaluations,  should the rest of the states just put down 5's and announce this policy ahead of time,  it would make life so much easier for all involved.

Remember, the total score is not what this accountability session is all about.   Keeping good teachers is what this accountability session is all about....  

When kids have good teachers, sometimes despite the problems I mentioned above, ... a good teacher can somehow, someway, in a way no test can ever determine,  find that secret hidden passage and finally get through to them...
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Comment Preferences

  •  The evaluations are designed for failure. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The rubrics are designed so that no teacher scores high enough to warrant a "highly effective" rating or whatever the top rating is.

    Take the management part--the rubric is designed NOT on how well a teacher handles a disruption, but on whether or not there IS a disruption.  

    And for those of us in inner city schools, there WILL be disruptions.  Even in the richest suburban "perfect" schools.

    Because that is the nature of children.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 04:58:41 AM PST

  •  "Now do you get it?" No, not given your argument (1+ / 0-)
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    The problem with education and pro teacher diaries on DK is that DK is not representative of the constituencies for public education -- which consists overwhelmingly of parents and students, not just of teachers.

    On DK, teachers are wildly over-represented and parents of color of school age children are wildly under-represented. Hence we get arguments like the one in this diary:

    If you are the teacher, and every day your students get sodomized while they are at home,  how can anyone teach with that?
    Except that the overwhelming majority of kids are not being sodomized every day at home. The overwhelming majority are being raised by loving, concerned parents.

    It's like the DK community has worked itself into a frenzy of nightmares of what life is like in the African American and Latino communities. The majority of our children are not being raped every day, nor are they going hungry, nor seeing neighbors have their eyes gouged out.

    You have painted this picture of what you think life is like for students of color and then contrast it with the ideal:

    They (administrators? reformers?) think everyone today is growing up just like they grew up, white in a small crime free town,  with a church on every corner...
    That's your implicit dichotomy. Teachers are faced with students of color who are being sodomized every day, who are hungry, and seeing neighbors eyes gouged out, and therefore teachers should not be expected to succeed, and should only be expected to succeed if the students are "white in a small crime free town."

    In fact, the public educational systems have been failing all across the country, especially in communities of color, even in communities of color that are solidly middle class and working class.

    One of the most well established psychological facts of teaching is that teachers' expectations of students have a profound effect of students' achievement. In other words if  a teacher thinks students will fail, they are more likely to fail. If teachers think students will succeed, they are more likely to succeed.

    It's pretty clear what your expectations are for today's multicultural students and I think that's representative of the educational system as a whole, which has become not an educational system, but what is increasingly called the "school to prison pipeline."

    •  No, not really . . . (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      In fact, the public educational systems have been failing all across the country,
      Two thirds to 3/4ths of public schools are fine; the rest are beset by societal problems beyond what a school can deal with.
      •  This year in my classes (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roadbed Guy

        I have only had three students come in with facial contusions and bloody eyeballs from being beat up at home.

        Only four girls have become pregnant during the school year. (But another dozen have informed me that they are raising babies.)

        Only two students have confided in me that they are living in homeless shelters.

        Only one student whose sole parent is dying a slow gruesome death of a thousand cuts from uncontrolled diabetes.

        Only two students that I know of who miss weeks of school at a time because they are forced to stay home and care for younger siblings, but about a dozen who miss 2-3 days a week or fall asleep in class because they are working full time jobs to help support their families.

        Only four, so far, who have come to school in single digit temperatures wearing sandals and a light sweater because that's all they have.

        No homicides of family members yet that I know of. (Usually I have two-three per year.)

        Only one house has burned down so far (that I know of) due to the use of space heaters because central heating is too expensive.

        It's been a cake walk.

        Light is seen through a small hole.

        by houyhnhnm on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 09:32:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yay, I love your upbeat spirit!! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          More seriously, it must be just a tad depressing dealing with that day in and day out, then coming to a "progressive" website to be told that educational systems are failing all over America.

          When in reality, just the opposite is the case - in that in situations where education is failing America, it's more like America is failing education . . . . more specifically by not addressing the deep poverty issues that plague far too much of the country.

          •  It used to be worse here (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Roadbed Guy

            I think the tide is slowly turning.

            I try not to let the know-nothing sidewalk superintendents get to me anymore. I can't afford the trouble that the anger gets me into and I can't afford the damage to my cardiovascular system.  But that indifference comes at a psychological price.

            It's useless to argue with them.  Anyone who thinks they are an expert on something of which they have no first hand knowledge is not going to listen to reason anyway.

            Demonizing a class of people is not rational.  There is something else going on.  That's why you can't reason with haters.

            I said it in another diary and I'll say it again:  An attack on teachers is an attack on civilization itself.

            Why did the public support rushing into war with Iraq on such obviously flimsy evidence?  Why was the response to 9/11 to get rid of civil liberties and go on Sikh bashing sprees?  Why is the response to the the Sandy Hook school massacre to go out and buy assault weapons?  Why do people want to destroy public education?

            I'm talking about the enablers, not the cynical profiteers.  It's not rational.  Almost make you believe in the devil. Or maybe Thanatos on a mass scale -- a national collective death wish.

            Light is seen through a small hole.

            by houyhnhnm on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 10:17:01 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  75% of appendicitis operations turn out just fine (0+ / 0-)

        Is that an acceptable outcome for a profession?

        "Well, the 25% of patients that died probably didn't eat enough fiber or get enough exercise, so it wasn't the responsibility of the doctor that the patient died on the operating table."

        And the 25% of failing schools tend to concentrated in certain communities and oddly, deep poverty described in the other comment is not the independent variable.

        •  You are being deliberately obtuse, I see (0+ / 0-)

          because that is a really crazy and inappropriate comparison.

          In any event, it is interesting how you have now dramatically shifted gears from saying that education is failing all across America to "failing schools are concentrated in certain communities"

          I eagerly await to see what direction you dart off in next!

          •  I'm the one being obtuse? (0+ / 0-)

            You seem to have had some trouble understanding what I wrote. I said schools are failing all across the country. I did not say every school or even the majority of schools are failing. Perhaps to simplify it for you, I should have said, in every region of the country (ie all over the country) there are failing schools.

            And no, the comparison to surgery is not inappropriate. The point is that most occupations and professions have dramatically improved their performance over the last several decades, through intense study of their processes, rigorous evaluation and institutional improvement.

            The teaching profession's main venue for study of the problem is education departments at universities, and unfortunately they have been immersed in meaningless fads over the last several decades, while teachers have decided to take a hard line against rigorous evaluation.

            The result is a downward spiral in school quality, especially in urban public schools and in non-educators and the political system increasingly taking educational decision making out of the hands of the teaching profession with almost equally dire consequences.

            If teachers had reacted more like doctors when the crisis first arose, we wouldn't be in the situation we're in.

            "When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of children."
               -- Albert Shanker

            •  Do you have a source for that quote? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Roadbed Guy

              other than 166,000 rheeformer anti-public education websites?

              I looked at about a dozen of them to see if I could find a source for the quote (which doesn't sound like Albert Shanker at all) and I couldn't find one.

              I did find a disavowal that he ever made any such statement by his widow.

              According to the Albert Shanker Institute:

              A couple of former Shanker staff members recall an incident that may be the source. The words weren’t spoken in 1985, or “a couple of years” before that. The incident in question occurred during a speech Shanker delivered at Oberlin College, while he was still president of New York City’s United Federation of Teachers (probably during the early- to mid-1970s).

              Although nobody recalls the exact wording, it went something like this:


              I don’t represent children. I represent teachers… But, generally, what’s in the interest of teachers is also in the interest of students.
              If you omit the third and final sentence, this is similar enough to the “when school children start paying union dues” quote to possibly be its origin. If so, it was distorted and truncated, having reverberated for many years within a political echo chamber, unencumbered by proper attribution, as a weapon against teachers’ unions.

              This reminds me very much of the viral emails circulated by rightwingers.

              The anti union anti-public education rheeform movement is a cult with a sinister hidden agenda.  It is disheartening to me that so many on the progressive side have been sucked into it, though, as I said upthread, I think the tide is turning.

              You, sir, are being played.  You will realize it some day when it is too late.

              Light is seen through a small hole.

              by houyhnhnm on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 12:32:00 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Actually, no (0+ / 0-)
                public education rheeform movement is a cult with a sinister hidden agenda.
                Public education reform is driven by parents of public school children who will not accept 50% urban drop out rates, even in stable working class neighborhoods. If it weren't for this constituency, the efforts of institutional and foundational reformers would get no traction and the politicians who trash the current reputation of public schools wouldn't get elected over and over again.

                What is so difficult for teachers' advocates to understand about this?

                You can demonize a film like "Waiting for Superman," but if the efforts of public school personnel weren't so lame, there wouldn't have been the hundreds of parents desperate to get their kids out of those schools in the first place, enabling the film to be made.

                When I went to urban public schools, by contrast, most of the schools were excellent.

                No one would accept a 75% success rate for appendectomies, but we are supposed to accept 50% graduation rates for public high schools out of "solidarity," and by buying into conspiracy theories like the above quote.  Don't be surprised if urban voters don't buy it.

                •  So I guess the answer is no (0+ / 0-)

                  You don't have source. Just like the wingnuts who send out their made up quotes and spurious accusations in chain emails.

                  You're the one doing the demonizing.

                  Light is seen through a small hole.

                  by houyhnhnm on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 02:13:17 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  It's typical for anti-teacher and anti-education (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                types to just make shit up.

                I applaud you for generously offering that the other poster is a victim and not a perpetrator of this type of thing.

                •  For every hateful stereotype (1+ / 0-)
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                  Roadbed Guy

                  every form of bigotry, you can find one or two examples that fit.

                  There are a few teachers in urban schools that have low expectations for minority students.  I would throw them under the bus in a heartbeat.

                  I could give a whole list of reasons why I think this happens that have nothing to do with teachers' unions:
                  1) Administrators who value someone who can keep order and save them from headaches even if that teacher is not challenging his or her students.
                  2) Multi-billion dollar educational publishing empires that put out schlock material just because they can get away with it.
                  3) Central office admins who force elementary PD and methods on high school teachers because that's all they know.
                  4) Counselors who change kids' schedules six or seven times until the kids get so confused they quit going to class at all.
                  5) Taking students out of class a couple days a week for every Tom, Dick and Harry's dog-and-pony show. (hawking $70 class rings to students who can't afford to buy a $10 scientific calculator)
                  Just for a few.

                  I'm willing to believe that this individual has had a bad experience. I think a progressive should be ashamed to fall into that kind of boogeyman stereotyping, though.

                  On the other hand, maybe he's just a hedge fund manager looking for new sources of plunder.

                  btw, I got curious about the "Golden Age" the poster is harking back to.  I found this graph, whose source is the U.S. Department of Education.  According to the graph the highest U.S. average graduation rate was in the late 1960s when it peaked at 77.1%

                  Light is seen through a small hole.

                  by houyhnhnm on Mon Feb 18, 2013 at 03:26:41 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Sure, it's easy enough to find examples (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    of things that have gone awry with education in the US   - my favorite is that $60 million high school football stadium in Texas.

                    But overall there is more right than wrong with public education.  In any event, when the blame for what's wrong immediately goes towards blaming teachers, I get a tad suspicious.

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