Monday, March 12, 2012

Education Issues: 2012 #1

Teacher Satisfaction and Morale, Corporate Reformers, Charters, ALEC, New York City Teacher Evaluations

The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher
Teachers are less satisfied with their careers; in the past two years there has been a significant decline in teachers’ satisfaction with their profession. In one of the most dramatic findings of the report, teacher satisfaction has decreased by 15 points since the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher measured job satisfaction two years ago, now reaching the lowest level of job satisfaction seen in the survey series in more than two decades. This decline in teacher satisfaction is coupled with large increases in the number of teachers who indicate that they are likely to leave teaching for another occupation and in the number who do not feel their jobs are secure.

One of my finest teachers was near tears the other day. Her student had asked her, “You are so smart…why did you become a teacher?” Within the context of this teacher-bashing climate, that remark was just too much to bear, and I hugged her as she cried. Less than a mile away, her Governor had thumped on a podium at Molloy College saying “if they want the money, perform” as though she and her colleagues were trained seals.

Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools
Drilling students on sample questions for weeks before a state test will not improve their education. The truly excellent charter schools depend on foundation money and their prerogative to send low-performing students back to traditional public schools. They cannot be replicated to serve millions of low-income children. Yet the reform movement, led by Gates, Broad, and Walton, has convinced most Americans who have an opinion about education (including most liberals) that their agenda deserves support.

Corporate Foxes in the IN DOE Henhouse: The Chain School Gospel of Jeb Bush, Jon Hage and WalMart
When the Indiana Charter School Board recently approved two new Charter Schools USA schools to open in Indianapolis, the corporate school honeymoon was on. The East Indianapolis Charter Academy and the South Indianapolis Charter Academy, Charter Schools USA claimed, would be “feeder schools” for students to eventually enter the three other Indiana public schools the Florida for-profit company will be handed $2 million yearly to “turnaround.” “Feeder schools” is an appropriate term, for what these schools do is “feed” taxpayer’s money to Charter Schools USA (CS USA) and whatever other for-profit companies it brings to Indiana.

A Smart ALEC Threatens Public Education
A legislative contagion seemed to sweep across the Midwest during the early months of 2011. First, Wisconsin legislators wanted to strip public employees of the right to bargain. Then, Indiana legislators got into the act. Then, it was Ohio. In each case, Republican governors and Republican-controlled state legislatures had introduced substantially similar bills that sought sweeping changes to each state’s collective bargaining statutes and various school funding provisions.

What was going on? How could elected officials in multiple states suddenly introduce essentially the same legislation?

The answer: The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

A Dark Day for New York
Last week, with Cuomo's deadline looming, the state and the unions reached an agreement. It says that 20 percent of teachers' evaluation will be based on the state tests and another 20 percent on locally designed tests, or on the state tests used in a different way. (It's the same scores, used for the same purpose; I have no idea how those scores might be used in "a different way,") The remaining 60 percent is supposed to consist of classroom observations and other measures. All teachers must be rated on a scale from 0 to 100, using these multiple measures. This draconian point system will guarantee that a teacher with a perfect 60 out of 60 on teaching skill will nonetheless be judged "ineffective" if he or she is in the ineffective range on scores. As it now stands, the rating system is so bizarre that a teacher could be rated effective in all three categories and still be rated "ineffective" overall.

Secretary Duncan hailed the pact and urged other governors to follow Cuomo's example. I am sure that Secretary Duncan knows that President Barack Obama wants teachers to "stop teaching to the test," as he said in his State of the Union address, and to teach with "creativity and passion."

Does anyone seriously believe that teachers in New York state will dare to stop teaching to the test? How many will be fired if they take that risk?

In addition to the parties involved, charter school supporters hailed the agreement, which was odd because teachers in charter schools will not be subject to its provisions.

No comments: