A reader asks a few questions about teachers. I follow his questions with my answer:
|Why do some teachers argue on one hand that they are not that important (discounting studies that show the value of excellent teachers, claiming that there are no bad teachers, insisting on equal pay for all teachers regardless of performance, avoiding effective evaluation, deriding the notion of excellent teachers in front of every child, claiming that poverty is destiny and there is little a teacher can do to change that, etc.) and at the same time question why they are not respected as professionals? If teachers are treated like interchangeable parts in some 19th century education factory, it’s because they apparently insist on it and work hard to keep it that way.|
No teacher says they are unimportant, but they recognize that teachers have less impact on children than their families. Teachers are the most important school-based factor in students’ achievement, but families matter even more than teachers. Research says the same thing. Wouldn’t you agree?
No teacher, or none that I know of, says there are no bad teachers. What they say is that student test scores are not a good way to identify bad teachers because teachers who have classes of English-language-learners or special education may be mistakenly identified as “bad” teachers because their test score gains are small. Teachers don’t want to teach with bad teachers, and they rely on good principals to weed out bad teachers, not to give them due process rights.
Teachers don’t want to be paid by the rise or fall of their students’ test scores, because they know that test scores represent student performance, not teacher performance. Teachers would love to be paid more for doing more, but not for teaching to the test. Don’t you agree?
Teachers know they are not “interchangeable parts in some 19th century education factory.” In good schools, teachers think of themselves as members of a team, working together as equals to help children grow up to be good people, responsible for themselves and for their community.
They work hard to keep it that way, but right now there are just a large number of very powerful politicians and financial types who demean the teaching profession, want to lower the standards for entry, and disrespect those who have chosen to devote their lives to educating young people.