Surprise! The school leadership of Charleston, South Carolina, has come up with some stale ideas and branded them as “reform.”
Nothing like copying what was tried and failed everywhere else!
The district calls it a “new” program of teacher evaluation, pay for performance, and reconfigured salary structure BRIDGE but in fact it is the status quo demanded by the U.S. Department of Education.
Every Broad-trained superintendent has the same ideas but is tasked with calling them “new” (when they are not), “evidence-based” (when they are not), and “reform” (when they are the status quo, paid for and sanctified by the U.S. Department of Education).
Patrick Hayes, a teacher in Charleston, has launched a campaign to expose the destructive plan of the district leaders, whose primary outcome will be to demoralize and drive away good teachers.
This blogger, the Charleston Area Community Voice for Education, recognizes that the new structure is not new, that it relies on “Junk Science,” and that it is “a Bridge to I Don’t Know Where.”
BRIDGE brings into full play in Charleston many of the recent reform strategies and policies, including
- large-scale testing,
- using test scores to rate principal and teacher performance (VAM), merit pay,
- Broad Academy trained leadership (starting with the superintendent), for example
It is important to note that these are the reforms of the last decade or so that have produced little improvement in schools as measured by the same testing and by the recently announce PISA results. These “reforms” are the status quo; in fact, they are not reform at all. As Hayes and others have pointed out, there is no credible evidence to support the effectiveness of these efforts, at least in terms of increased learning or even measuring teacher quality.
Further, the school district has built no case for why do BRIDGE in terms of what we want for our children, teachers, and classrooms. BRIDGE appears to be a large, well-funded ($23.7 million) solution to vague, and even non-existent problems. It is a solution the district apparently intends to impact every classroom and hence every student in Charleston public schools.
Here’s the thing. There are students in all schools who are not learning to their potential. There are also schools that have issues, academic and otherwise, that need addressing. There are also schools and students doing amazingly well.
The success of those students and schools cannot be attributed to evaluation (of teachers, schools, or even the students), nor is there any evidence that evaluation will fix the problems that do exist. Hint: we already know where the problems are. To base a massive restructuring of how schools, teachers, principals, and certainly students do business and spend their days is bogus, and the impacts of flawed, misdirected programs in education usually drive us to a cliff.
The bottom line is this: Charleston County School District has embarked on a very large experiment, called BRIDGE, with vaguely defined goals (except, perhaps raising test scores) with the plan of “let’s see if this works, because we have to do something”. Of course, in science, when you’re out there exploring the unknown, you don’t know what you’ll get.
Perhaps I’m missing the point here, so maybe I need to ask my six year old granddaughter and her teacher and principal, all of whom are doing quite well, thank you.
I would like to hear an answer from the school board and superintendent addressed to Grace (who understand quite a bit) to this question:
Why are you doing this BRIDGE thing?
Go ahead. I dare you.