Monday, February 06, 2012

Consider This

In Topeka, you can make 5,000 bucks extra in merit pay if you get those scores up. So, the writer wonders, why would you help anyone who was not your student? After all, every minute you spend helping those other kids is a minute lost from propping up the test scores you need to survive.

That scenario could be even worse if demagogues Bloomberg and Cuomo get their way. Cuomo wants 40% of your rating to be based on test scores, and I've read that it would be impossible to get a favorable rating without favorable test scores. Bear in mind, of course, that these geniuses want to base these ratings on tests that, as yet, don't even exist. Forget about their validity. There are already ridiculous margins of error, and they'd likely get even worse on hastily prepared tests.

Now further imagine Bloomberg's 20K bonus were in place, and that principals actually had enough money to pay it. A colleague of mine, a math teacher, was busy and asked me to help a kid with her college entrance essay. I spent a whole period helping this girl rewrite an essay, explaining to her how and why she could do things better. Why would I do such a thing for any kid if I were competing with her teacher for not only a bonus, but my very job? I've read NY's system is based on a bell curve, and supposedly a bunch of teachers on the bottom would be discharged every year.

What a hellish job they want to create. Teachers do all sorts of things other than test prep. We spot problems, often huge ones, and take time out to help kids. We intervene for them with administration. We contact their parents and try to help out. We do so many things, anything that's called for, and those are the sort of things we're remembered for. I have fond memories of teachers who inspired me, not teachers who helped me figure out which circles to blacken on tests, and I suspect that's true for most of us.

If the "reformer" vision is carried out, inspiration will no longer be the province of a teacher. Teachers will fight for bonuses and jobs, and if they don't, they will have neither. Wall Streeters used that model to bankrupt the nation, and they can't wait to use it to destroy public education and our profession along with it.
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