Education is my thing. I read everything I see about it. But I’m weary of seeing the same message over and over. Billionaire-funded education groups that aim to "reform" our schools seem to sneer at teachers’ experience, and support firing teachers using methods that are not supported by scientific research. They talk about us like we champion mediocrity.
That is far from the truth.
One teacher said he's insulted by new rules that require standardized tests are graded by outside teachers rather than those who know the students. Teachers, after all, design tests all the time and should be trusted to grade them fairly, he said.
Critics beat the drums against any kind of value-added metric in a final deal on teacher evaluations despite an assumption by both department officials and union leaders that some percentage of a teacher's performance review will be based on student test scores and other measurements.
A high school teacher criticizes the Department of Education for its decision to have teachers report to work on Friday ahead of this week's return to school for most students.
One teacher is weary - and wary - of the annual presentation of new ideas.
A New York City teacher writes: "Sexual abusers don’t belong in schools. They belong in prisons, where they can mingle freely with others who share their interests. Let’s put them there." Yet the brouhaha over new rules for their removal is a distraction, he writes: "Let’s move the education conversation back to education. No one needs a diversionary circus."
A United Federation of Teachers chapter leader writes about his friend, Eric Chasanoff, one of 16 teachers who were recently profiled in newspaper stories about teachers who were cleared by arbitrators after being repeatedly charged with inappropriate behavior with students. He defends Mr. Chasanoff and writes: "Department of Education officials used the procedure they negotiated, and lost. For them to say, now, that it was unfair, smacks of sour grapes."
An E.S.L. teacher at a Queens high school writes: 'It’s not often you can get in the middle of something and make such an immediate difference. We didn’t have to do this, and none of us got paid extra for it -- but things like these, not merit pay, not test scores, make us love what we do. Still, I have to wonder what would happen under the new paradigm in New York State and New York City. Would Stephanie help our value-added scores? Would Mom keep her home the day of the test? If she were on our registers, would that affect our ratings?'
A teacher writes: I spoke to my students, cajoled them, threatened them, contacted their counselors and called their homes repeatedly. I try everything I can think of, and sometimes I fail. Does this mean my name ought to be on page 3 of The New York Post as a poster boy for everything wrong with education?
A high school teacher who works with English Language Learners writes, 'Of course my kids can be assessed. But expecting the same thing from them and kids who have been speaking English all their lives is ludicrous.'