I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Corporate Media Can't Wait to Humiliate Teachers!

The vultures in the corporate media have been looking at how the NY Daily News, the NY Post, MSNBC, and the LA Times are trashing teachers. And they are so jealous - they can't wait to join in the fun! Take, for instance, the folks at Gannett, which owns the Asbury Park Post:

Everyone agrees that the teacher evaluation system in New Jersey is due for an overhaul as part of comprehensive education reform.
But it is important to make sure the instruments used for those evaluations are themselves up to the job. That is why it is gratifying to see the state Department of Education has contracted with Rutgers University to review the new teacher evaluation system being tried out in 10 school districts across the state.
This should be done in the interest of fairness and to blunt the inevitable criticism from the New Jersey Education Association that some of the methods Gov. Chris Christie is pushing are unproven.
Acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf says the findings by a review team from the Rutgers Graduate School of Education will be used to guide implementation of the new system in the 2013-14 school year. Once an adequate system is in place, individual teacher evaluations should be made public as they were last week in New York City.
I don't know who is going to be on the Rutgers review team, but let's be clear: any objective assessment is going to find huge margins of error in these evaluations, which renders them effectively useless as teacher evaluation tools (in fact, here's a Rutgers professor who shows exactly this - will he be part of the review team? I'm not holding my breath).

It would, therefore, be completely irresponsible to publish these ratings; there's simply no point in it. Do they expect parents to storm principals' offices and demand their children be assigned to the "best" teachers? Does that sound practical at all?

Gannett loves to humiliate teachers and all public workers, which is why they publish a database of their salaries (I will never publish that link), lamely claiming "The public has right to know!" The real goal, of course, is to suppress public worker wages, which helps keep all middle class wages low. That is, of course, what so many American corporations want.

So you'd better believe that Gannett will tie a teacher evaluation database to their salary database. "How dare that 5th Grade teacher make $75,000/year when she's rated 'Not Effective'! It's an outrage!" There will be no context, no subtlety, no attempt to discern the truth; just a relentless bashing of teachers and their "outrageous" salaries.

NJ teachers, this is coming. You'd better step up now and stop it, and that means legislation that keeps these ratings from being published. That must be a necessary precondition of any changes in teacher evaluation going forward.


Anonymous said...

Good luck to all NJ students taking the HSPA this week! Soon the handwritten essays will appear on a computer screen in North Carolina where experts will evaluate them--unless the grading system has changed. Better make that good luck to all NJ teachers!

I have heard some teachers say their schools don't seem to be taking the tests as seriously this year--yeah I know we're out of NCLB, but is there anyone who would benefit from lower scores? I can't say I've seen evidence of this where I work--but there is the concern that teachers are the ones being tested.

Anonymous said...

I love how the corporate evaluators claim that even if they are inaccurate, test scores are only one way to look at a teacher's effectiveness. How insane is that? "Yeah, we know that the value-added metric is riddled with flaws and inconsistencies, but, hey, we're looking at other measures too. And we'll publish the scores anyway." How can anyone buy into this?

Anonymous said...

I must say, I think identifying, improving or removing ineffective teachers is one of the most laudable things our state could rapidly do.

That said, it took me aback to actually see the names published like that in New York. Maybe the people who come up in the "zero percentile" when you sort on that column really shouldn't be teachers, but that is a cold way to get the news.

But...that is what tenure does. More subtle options are not available.

Anonymous said...

""""How dare that 5th Grade teacher make $75,000/year when she's rated 'Not Effective'! It's an outrage!"""""

But....it is.

Duke said...

Anon: tenure has nothing to do with publishing inaccurate teacher ratings.

Anon: it is an outrage when an ineffective teacher is in the classroom. It is not an outrage when a teacher who may be good but is rating "Not Effective" by a measure that has an admitted 53% margin of error is still teaching.

Question: are you judged at your job by measures that are this inaccurate?

Anonymous said...

"More subtle options are not available," eh?

How about a Comité de salut public? I mean this is a crisis, right? And once some heads roll in the public schools things will be just fine.

No crusade can be subtle: "Neca eos omnes. Deus suos agnoscet." ("Kill them all. God will know his own.")

Anonymous said...

My vocation does not lend itself to judgement outside of contract termination, which can be for any reason or none.

Scary, isn't it? Real world, crabby bosses and clients, demotions, promotions, raises, salary cuts, great benefits, lousy benefits, have to be at work at least 40 hours, no summers off...real crazy stuff you wouldn't be able to relate to...

Anonymous said...

Wow, anon troll. None of us have EVER looked at all that crazy stuff! Thanks so much for enlightening us!

czarejs said...

Well Anon....at least you admit it. Teachers have something you don't and that makes you upset. But the issue is supposed to be improving education and making my job like your job isn't going to achieve that as has been pointed out here many times.

Anonymous said...

My real world: crabby bosses/students (some with weapons)/parents, teaching entirely different curriculum and grade levels year to year (and often within the year), tiny raises, benefit cuts, have to be at work at least 40 hours and take 2-3 hours worth of work home, no paycheck between June 20 and September 15...real crazy stuff you wouldn't be able to relate to...

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I've been laid off 4 times in 15 years because tenure can't save even the best teachers when they eliminate your entire department.

Think I've got it so great? Come try it!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps we should pilot these eval systems on politicians where they are likely to see far more failure?

And the fallacy in using a percentile rating system is that lets say you fire the bottom 20%, the next 30 becomes the new bottom percentile.