Monday, February 20, 2012

Effective Teachers Make Kids Produce

Stuyvesant teacher and blogger Gary Rubinstein had a great op-ed yesterday in the Daily News. He says that any teacher who does not receive a favorable score on "objective measures," or VAM tests must be rated ineffective in NY state. Therefore, though VAM is stated to be 40% of evaluation, it actually counts for 100, unlike any other state that's jumped on the baseless BS bandwagon.

He also says, like Michael Winerip did in more detail, that a good teacher could easily receive a bad rating. I'm now getting email from people who seem to assume I personally wrote and negotiated this law, which is pretty odd. I've explicitly opposed it for years. I can only fault the emails from the union for failing to point out that I did not. I will say, though, that the UFT's Q and A did not manage to A any of my Qs.  Rubenstein and Winerip have thus far done a much better job.

I don't think there's much credence in calling yourself a good teacher, as you're likely the least credible and most prejudiced source in the world. I will say, though, that no one has called me a bad teacher in a long time. Of course that could change if my students, none of whom are fluent in English, perform poorly on tests that have not yet been designed. However, if history is any judge, I expect they'll be designed for native speakers. Who knows what the great and powerful Regents will pay test companies to design for my colleagues who teach special education?

While I still love my job and look forward to going in every day, I've got almost 27 years in. So probably I cannot be dumped for no reason until I hit 30, and I'm grateful for that. Nonetheless, the spectre of the sword of Damocles hanging over my head, and that of every working teacher is particularly unsettling. It will not help any of us perform better, and it will not help any student learn better. There will be incredible pressure to do well on these stupid tests, and it's incredible that the President of the United States, who inspired and enabled this nonsense through Race to the Top, would have the audacity to say we need to stop teaching to the test.

Actually, NY teachers had better start teaching to the test if they wish to keep their jobs. And while I don't want to retire, that's the sort of thing that might make me do it anyway. And while I have sent my kid to public school, were she entering school this year I'd think carefully about that as well.

I don't want my kid subject to test prep 24/7. And neither does Obama, Bloomberg, or Klein. That's why they send their kids to private schools, where they avoid all the nonsense they support for other people's kids.
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