What She Wore: Khakis; red, hooded shirt with a deep v-neck; black undershirt; black snow boots.
I try not to get all political because, quite frankly, I’m not any good at it. But yesterday I read something in Newsweek that really got my juices flowing (I was pretty surprised to be reading Newsweek too). The article stated clearly, "It’s time to move from identifying failing schools to identifying failing teachers." Now I realize that this sounds good, but this is the worst idea I’ve heard in years. The thing is, if you don’t work in education, I think that it’s hard to understand. So, rather than explain the whole thing, I’ll just put you in my shoes, and maybe that will make it clear.
I work in a low-performing school. Last year, 18% of my students passed the state-wide test. This is nothing new–fewer of them had passed the test the year before. In my mind, that’s improvement. If you compare the kids from one year to the next, you’ll see that many of them did improve, but not enough to pass. This year, the state expected 60% of our kids to pass. Next year, they’ll want even more.
Maybe you can see why that’s frustrating. We get them failing, we spend a year of extended classes trying to improve thier skills, we actually improve their skills, but the federal government is only interested in one number: how many passed the test. Period.
The good thing (relatively) is that the individual teachers aren’t punished–the schools are, but not the teachers. This way, we are free to teach where we want. I can work with kids who need it the most, and not worry that they’ll fail the test–I just do the best I can.
If I had to worry about getting fired, there’s no way I’d take this kind of job–that’s just like saying I want to be unemployed next year. Or worse yet, getting my pay reduced while teachers in affluent districts with well-behaved kids get raises for keeping proficient kids proficient.
So, that’s my soap box–you want better teaching, ask the teachers what they need. They’ll tell you. And it’s not more computers!!!!!!!