Monday, October 27, 2014
It's Impossible to Fire a Bad "Reformer"
In the mind of "reformers," the Time article "Rotten Apples" may be the greatest coup since Rhee graced the cover with broomstick in hand. Apparently, the fact that non-elected, backers of charters and private schools (like David Welch) crusade against public-school teachers may be the best thing since sliced bread. But what if it isn't? Can the bakers be fired?
"Ineffective" teachers are a sore on the body politic. But how can you define ineffective teachers? If you see one, will you know one? Here is the rub. Is it based largely on student test scores in a strange world of Chetty-based "science." How can you identify ineffective reformers? There's no formula. When it comes to their performance, they seem to have only formulas for Success (Academies)!
God help the teachers who work in high-needs classrooms in a world without tenure. The author of the article in question, Edwards, makes note of now famous Pasadena teacher castigated by Vergara, former teacher of the year. In my mind, a teacher cannot be highly effective free of his or her students. The teacher is a head and the students make up the body. Neither can function effectively without the other. Even one highly disruptive student, the type to suffer expulsion at the hands of name-brand charter schools, can cause incredible chaos for the best teacher. And what if public-school teachers contribute to life-altering progress in students' lives, but it is not registered in test performance? The teacher will be buried under the dust heap of corporate reform.
Nancy Gibbs, the editor of Time, states that "one Texas study found that cutting class size by 10 students was not as beneficial as even modest improvement in the teacher." Nice study. I would love to know if anyone with practical experience in a high-needs classroom with thirty-four students was part of that study. Nice to make studies built on faulty samples, engineered to produce the results desired. The system engineered by the "reformers" strikes hardest at teachers who have sacrificed higher incomes to help high-needs kids. Despite their lofty goals, they will be denigrated, degraded and readily disposed of. Worst of all, the achievement gap may widen to an abyss.
A crying shame? Yes... But although some "reformers" may change their names and step back from the spotlight, in this world of demented ed. "reform," it is nearly impossible to fire a bad "reformer."