1/13/12

If one more economist, think tank millionaire tells me how to fix education I will personally invite them to teach my class for a week

I am sure we have all read it by now. The big Harvard study, done by three economist, that has come out last week in which they claim proves a good teacher can mean more earning over a lifetime. I did some reading on this supposed 'research' and was appalled to find out it has not even been peer reviewed; which apparently is what typically happens before any results are reported to the public. In addition, the authors are making pretty bold 'policy prescriptions'. I cannot wait to get my hands on this publication, when and if it ever gets out; already I see holes everywhere. The icing on the cake though is to read how think tank scholars Jason Richwine and Andrew G. Biggs advocate for "shifting more funds toward the best teachers." As I read about economist, think tank people, and millionaires who create education policy daily I feel this resentment rising in me towards all non-educators who think they can come into education and quick fix it. Let's just look at the 'brilliant' idea of paying the more effective teachers more. Teachers are not like doctors in the way that each doctor can operate their practice separate from other doctors. Teachers within school communities that work, generally operate best through collaboration. Collaboration cannot happen when Ms. Jane knows Ms. Mary is labeled better by her District.

Value-added is another 'brilliant' idea from the outer banks of education reality. For those of you who might not know what value-added means, it's simply paying a teacher based on varied measured and qualitative aspects of her teaching, but primarily standardized tests. Two years ago, The District of Columbia Public schools found me to be a highly effective teacher. For that whole year I was sure I was a great teacher, it was wonderful. I got free tickets to a baseball game, a cute little plaque and lots of other perks. Unfortunately, this past year, based on a combination of factors, such as observation scores, school test scores, etc, I was only found to be just 'effective'; I missed the 'highly effective mark by .4 points. So this year, I am just effective. This is the label I have been demoted to after my year of bliss and it did not feel so great to suddenly become invisible, dispensable almost. For this whole year, I ate, slept and breathed my new label. Let me remind you that I am the same person, teaching the same way, to the same population. Because the highly effective folks get a huge bonus if found to be highly effective two years in a row, the District can only afford to keep a certain number of (highly effective) teachers in this state of bliss. Only an outsider or a short-term educator could come up with such a system in which the majority of its work population feels truly valued and in which the approach stems from the assumption that most teachers need to be prodded to do their jobs.

I cannot begrudge these economists, these think tank people or millionaires for doing what they feel is an area they could support with their specific skill sets, resources or knowledge. Yet, it's seriously time educators took back their profession. Perhaps erase, 'took back' for I don't think we ever really were in charge of it. It's become painfully obvious that these outside entities will continue to create systems, studies and fund projects that build upon very negative assumptions about who we are and what we are capable of. In school districts, just as in relationships, when we operate from negative assumptions the results can and will never be a genuine fit for the problem. The weight of the stress of these externally-created policies should be enough to make every teacher in America stand up and demand a seat at the table, yet, that is not happening? Most teachers are not political souls and lack the tools to navigate education policy-related issues. Regardless of what is your excuse, it's time we forced our way in, even if we are not invited. I don't need a Harvard degree to know this study is flawed. It's flawed because it defines an 'effective teacher' by tests and defines life success by how much you make. But I will wait until it's actually peer-reviewed and PUBLISHED before I pick at it further.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comment at http://mommyactivist.blogspot.com/. I may respond to your comment individually or respond to various comments through one post. Please do not use this comment area for spam or to try to sell products unrelated to my blog.