My school district is closed tomorrow, for what has been deemed as a “professional development day,” but really comes as a reaction to an overwhelming number of teachers taking the day off to attend the House and Senate committee hearings tomorrow morning. I have taken the morning off to attend, and I will be back at school for noon working in my classroom. This issue is extremely complicated, and I don’t have the answers, but here are my thoughts:
- I don’t care about tenure, but I also don’t think “ineffective” teachers should be in classrooms (especially those resistant to professional growth).
-“Ineffective” is a tricky label. I am suspicious of any evaluation system that bases 50% of your “effectiveness” on a test that is taken during one week-long period per year in the Spring (in my case this year RIGHT AFTER SPRING BREAK! (WTH?)). That test score does not take into account dozens of factors affecting student performance.
- I don’t think privatization or a voucher-system is a smart way to fix the problem. This will result in public schools losing students whose families value education (and the funding that comes with those students), and will leave public schools with what’s left. It’s true that EBR Public schools are failing, but many of the charter schools that have taken them over haven’t produced better results. (Not that I don’t believe that there are excellent charter schools out there. There are).
It all boils down to the fact that the public education system in Louisiana (and across the country) is broken in so many ways that no one is exactly sure how to fix it. I will be at the capitol tomorrow morning, not because I disagree with the fact that effective teachers should be rewarded and ineffective teachers should not, but because I disagree with the governor’s method of getting this done. Teachers are on the front lines with these kids every day, and we know better than anyone the challenges they face, and the obstacles we face in educating them. I want Governor Jindal to ASK TEACHERS what they think, and I think we can work together to solve this problem. We need communities working together. We need parental involvement. We need well-informed policies and procedures that don’t tie teachers and administrators hands in the classroom. We need smaller class sizes, more professional collaboration, and to lower the focus on high-stakes testing.
Some articles of interest on this issue:
(Thanks to thebronzemedal for sharing this link as well: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/mar/08/schools-we-can-envy/?pagination=false )