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Thanks for sharing this Clay. There is a lot I agree with such as measuring student growth as a way to determine the effectiveness of a school. We have been talking about that a lot. Our test scores don't always show how much growth our students are making.
However, I am a little skeptical about the national standards because it was not educators that wrote them. Further, I wonder what the system for measuring a teacher by student improvement will look like. This is a really interesting time in education. Just as Christie threatens to scrutinize school budgets and trim the fat, Obama is pledging another $1.35 billion.
I agree that this is an interesting time in education, but isn't there some curse about wishing people live in interesting times?! Politics and education don't mix very well, even though we are supported by the very government which often has little idea about what to do with us. Merit pay is a popular concept among politicians, because taxpayers who aren't teachers think it holds us accountable. Like Jen, I don't understand how measuring individual teachers by test scores would work, particularly for those of us who technically share students. And if a teacher is someone who is particularly able to handle students with behavior or learning problems, isn't merit pay actually penalizing that teacher? Someone who is willing to teach these students and also willing to share his or her classroom with other teachers should not receive less income because their students are poor test-takers.
Forcing schools to compete for grants seems like rewarding a district's ability to hire administrators who are good at paperwork. While I don't advocate throwing money at poor-performing districts, how about providing support personnel? In our district, we all know how helpful it is to have our literacy specialists ON STAFF. Unlike state takeovers, these experts are not outsiders, but are able to help the district in the areas where we need additional professional development, program and student evaluation, and direct student intervention. Perhaps money could be allocated for use in parent education programs; pay staff and offer free food and babysitting to get parents to come. Money could be spent on community outreach. But "rewarding" improving districts with more money does not help the students who continue to spend their time in schools that have the misfortune of being run by professionals who aren't the most creative. And aren't those the kids who need the most?
I do not know if any other profession has as many people, who with limited knowledge on the field wield such power. Too many non-teachers in this world influence educational policy. Oh! I just figured out another profession that has too many critics with zero understanding, professional sports. Both professions are so much more complex than they appear. Most people have some minor experience at both but it is ridiculous to assume that a person’s classroom experience or athletic experience translates to true knowledge about either profession.

A president’s educational experience resembles very few students in our country. In fact, the truly failing inner city school districts offer zero similarities to a “Harvard Education”. When was the last time teachers made policy for the failing financial industries or housing markets. When did a cadre of teachers enact laws regarding environmental
issues?

The point is this; teachers need to take more of a role in everything that involves teachers.
We need to expose the Monday morning quarterbacks for what they really are, people ignorant to the complexities and challenges of teaching.

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