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, December 1, 2013

REALLY Dumb Things White People Say About Schools: Lawrence Harmon

Your "duh" moment of the day, ladies and gentleman:

BOSTON’S TEACHERS are succeeding swimmingly in their chosen profession, with 93 percent landing in the exemplary and proficient categories on a new teacher-evaluation system. Yet about two-thirds of the city’s schools rank in the bottom 20 percent statewide based on student test data. What’s going on here?

“There’s a disconnect between our teacher ratings and how the schools are performing,’’ explains Boston School Committee member Mary Tamer. “The responsibility rests on the principals.’’
Let’s hope that Tamer is right and Boston is experiencing a contagion of grade inflation within the ranks of its principals and other teacher evaluators. Otherwise it suggests that good teachers are unable to compensate for poverty, social ills, non-native English status, and other difficulties associated with urban education. [emphasis mine]
Because everyone knows that a "good" teacher generates about $5 a week more in student earnings than an "average" teacher! $5!!! How much more do you kids living in poverty want?!

Listen: of course teachers matter. Of course we need the best and the brightest teaching. Of course good education is necessary for children to succeed in life. But does anyone seriously think that "good teachers" are the key to fixing poverty? Is anyone really that dense?

Dumb statements like this are a testament to the ruling class's ability to so completely game our country's discourse on education and economic justice. It never even occurs to Lawrence Harmon that maybe the test scores are measuring something other than the effectiveness of teaching; maybe they're measuring student characteristics.

But, ya know... teachers unions are evil and stuff! And... uh... the tests must be measuring something! Er... Shanghai is coming to get us! And... um... there must be lots of bad teachers! Uh...

Keep drinkin' that hegemonic Kool-Aid, Larry.

The Boston Globe's Lawrence Harmon (artist's conception)

H/T: The always fresh and excellent EduShyster.

ADDING: Oh, my sweet, sweet lord:
Student scores on standardized tests weren’t incorporated in the latest evaluations. They will be in the next few years, however. And that time can’t come too soon. Progress in public agencies requires acceptance of objective measurements. Great urban police departments, for example, take responsibility for the crime rate and seek ways to lower it. They don’t get sidetracked by the fact that people in poor neighborhoods commit more violent crimes than people in wealthy ones. Challenges come with the territory. Boston’s school system hasn’t fully embraced that philosophy.
Obviously, the problem in Detroit and Camden and South Central LA is that the police officers there just aren't trying hard enough! So what if "people in poor neighborhoods commit more violent crimes than people in wealthy ones"! That's no excuse for a country where people in poor neighborhoods commit more violent crimes than people in wealthy ones! 

Circular reasoning be damned, people!

Is it too early to start drinking?


Deb said...

brilliant as usual. Thanks for taking time from your holiday weekend to share your insight and wit.

Mrs. King's music students said...

A couple of quantum leaps made this difficult to follow for me. I apologize ahead of time if it's sarcasm and I missed it. If it's not, it's very wrong to assume the MEA is anything like the NJEA. It's no more alike than teaching in MA is the same as teaching in NJ, or that ed leadership, BOEs or even politics are comparable to NJ. In real life, the leap from Worcester Public Schools to Trenton was like leaping back in time 10 years. Add another 7 years when leaping from N. Jersey to S. Jersey. For example, the 21st century competencies heralded by NJDOE in 2010 were already old news in Boston. There are LOTS of examples of this.

And never forget, the Camden Police Force that took accountability for our safety and literally stood between students and teachers at Lanning Square Parkside and daytime shootings within a block of the building were all terminated and replaced with unsuspecting/sometimes reluctant policepersons from around Camden County. Sorry if I'm nitpicking - but we can't afford to forget any of this.