Not even a high school freshman would be able to get away with referring to "research" without a citation. But this is a regular practice at the Star-Ledger. And, frankly, it's embarrassing.Tenure reform, the most important part of this package, is facing stubborn opposition. Democrats won’t kill it outright, but they may weaken it enough to justify a veto by Christie.Research shows that children suffer lasting damage when they have a bad teacher for even one or two years. In urban districts, where more kids are struggling to begin with, the damage is magnified. [emphasis mine]
I'm not saying this research doesn't exist; it may even be of a high quality. Certainly teachers matter, but it is open to debate how much; more importantly, measuring teacher quality is hardly an exact science.
(See how I did that? You can click the link and read it for yourself. Matt DiCarlo's piece has many links as well. Simple, right?)
I have, however, yet to see a study that compares teacher effect over an extended time between urban and non-urban districts. I want to see it. I want to know what it is. Is that so crazy of me?
As to the rest of the piece: the Ruiz bill has several major flaws, which I'll be expanding on this week. I've laid out my case for tenure before, but the Ruiz bill has several specific points that need to be addressed. For now, however, let's note this:
The big fight now is over seniority protections during layoffs. To the teachers’ union and many Democrats, seniority protection for union workers is a core value. The existing rules enshrine that, by requiring the least experienced teachers go first, even when they are top performers.The issue with seniority is whether we are going to base layoffs on inaccurate, error-prone measures, or make smart selections that take into account quantifiable measures like years of service.
(See that? See how I cited my source? You can do that in print, too; no, I swear, you can!)
And, as I always ask: where is the evidence that large numbers of "bad" senior teachers are holding back student progress? Why are we so hellbent on making this the problem, especially when the highest performing districts have both seniority and tenure?
Once again, here's Bruce Baker's chart (and a third time!):
More this week, with many, many citations.