Archives for category: Teacher Evaluations

Peter Greene writes that there seems to be a contest among the states to see which one can be most hostile and punitive towards public school teachers. Is it North Carolina? Is it Tennessee? No, writes Greene, the state that is in the lead in this category is Massachusetts.

 

Massachusetts, which leads the nation by far on federal tests of mathematics and reading, intends to adopt regulations that will take away a teacher’s license if his or her students get low test scores.

 

Can you believe that? The teacher won’t  just be fired; she will lose her license to teach!

 

He writes:

 

There are three proposed versions (A, B & C) of the new system, and they all share one piece of twisted DNA– they link teacher evaluations to teacher licenses. Not pay level or continued employment in that particular school district– but licensure. A couple of below-average evaluations, and you will lose your MA license to teach.

 

There is no profession anywhere in the country that has such astonishing rules. Good lord– even if your manager at McDonalds decides you’re not up to snuff, he doesn’t blackball you from ever working in any fast food joint ever again! Yes, every profession has means of defrocking people who commit egregious and unpardonable offenses. But– and I’m going to repeat this because I’m afraid your This Can’t Be Real filter is keeping you from seeing the words that I’m typing– Massachusetts proposes to take your license to teach away if you have a couple of low evaluations.

 

It will not surprise you to learn that those evaluations would include all the usual groundless baloney. Student Impact Ratings– did your real student get better test scores than his imaginary counterpart being taught by an imaginary average teacher in a parallel universe? Did you successfully climb the paperwork mountain generated by a teacher improvement plan (duly filed with the state department that doesn’t have time to do the work it has now, so good luck with the new influx of improvement plan filings)? One version of the plan even allows for factoring in student evaluations of teachers; yes, teachers, your entire career can be hanging by a thread that dangles in front of an eight-year-old with scissors.

 

Which groups are advising the state in this draconian effort to drive teachers away? Some group called “the Keystone Center” and TNTP, the organization founded by Michelle Rhee.

 

Greene writes about these organizations:

 

“The Keystone Center was established to independently facilitate the resolution of national policy conflicts.” Those conflicts seem to most often have to do with oil and gas stuff, as well as Colorado higher education and monarch butterflies. How they ended up helping Massachusetts blow up teaching careers is not clear to me. But it’s easy to see how their “project partners” ended up here, because they’re teamed up with TNTP, a group that never met a set of teacher job protections that they didn’t want throw in a woodchipper and burn with fire.

If TNTP ever has a legitimate mission, it has long since been replaced with one single-minded focus– to make it easier to fire all teachers everywhere all the time.

 

The Massachusetts Teachers Association is fighting this irrational plan. They see that it is a looming disaster for teachers and public schools.

 

Greene writes:

 

I would point out to the people pushing this that it’s a great way to chase people away from teaching in Massachusetts ever. I would point out that young people interested in starting a teaching career might favor a state where that career can’t be snuffed out because of random fake data that’s beyond their control. I would point out that this is one more policy that will almost certainly make it even harder than it already is to recruit teachers for high-poverty low-achievement schools. I mean, most states are settling for evaluation systems that punish inner-city teachers with just losing that particular job; it takes big brass ones for Massachusetts to say, “Come teach in a poor struggling under-funded low-resource school. Take a chance on the job that could end your entire teaching career before you’re even thirty.” Who on God’s green earth thinks this is a way to put a great teacher in every classroom?

Well, the answer is nobody. I would say all those things to the people pushing this program if I thought they cared about any of that. But it seems increasingly obvious that creating a massive teacher shortage is not a bug, but a feature. It’s not an unintended consequence, but the chosen objective.

 

Good luck, MTA. The people of Massachusetts should celebrate the successes of their schools and send these interlopers who want to ruin teachers’ careers packing. How is it possible to improve education by ruining the lives of teachers? How is it possible to improve education by making test scores the measure of everything? Good business for Pearson, not so good for the children.

 

John Thompson reviews Anthony Cody’s néw book THE EDUCATOR AND THE OLIGARCH. The book recapitulates Cody’s five-part debate with the Gates Foundation. Thompson says Cody demolished their spokesmen.

Thompson writes that Cody won the debate, hands down:

“They probably didn’t expect a mere teacher to assemble and concisely present such an overwhelming case against their policies. But, who knows?, perhaps they were completely unaware of the vast body of social science that Cody drew upon, and they blamed the messenger for the education research he brought to the table. The Educator and the Oligarch explains how the failed Gates reforms could create an education dystopia.”

Best of all is Thompson’s summary of Cody’s proposal for how Gates ought to be evaluated.

Example:

“Since Bill Gates, more than any other person, is responsible for the absurd evaluations that are now being imposed on teachers, Cody wonders if Gates’ practice as a philanthropist should be evaluated. If so, what would it look like? Cody makes a strong case that in the tradition of the Danielson and Marzano teacher evaluation frameworks, an abbreviated version of his evaluation would look like the following:

Standard 1: Awareness of the Social Conditions Targeted by Philanthropy

Rating: Below Standard

… Actions and statements by him and his representatives indicate ignorance of the pervasive effects of poverty, and the overwhelming research that indicates the need to address these effects directly.

Recommendation for Professional Growth: We recommend Bill Gates take a year off from his work as a philanthropist, and work as a high school instructor in an urban setting. …

Governor Andrew Cuomo promised, in a meeting with the New York Daily News editorial board, to “bust” the public school monopoly.

 

 

Vowing to break “one of the only remaining public monopolies,” Gov. Cuomo on Monday said he’ll push for a new round of teacher evaluation standards if re-elected.

Cuomo, during a meeting with the Daily News Editorial Board, said better teachers and competition from charter schools are the best ways to revamp an underachieving and entrenched public education system.

“I believe these kinds of changes are probably the single best thing that I can do as governor that’s going to matter long-term,” he said, “to break what is in essence one of the only remaining public monopolies — and that’s what this is, it’s a public monopoly.”

He said the key is to put “real performance measures with some competition, which is why I like charter schools.”

Cuomo said he will push a plan that includes more incentives — and sanctions — that “make it a more rigorous evaluation system.”

Cuomo expects fierce opposition from the state’s teachers, who are already upset with him and have refused to endorse his re-election bid.

“The teachers don’t want to do the evaluations and they don’t want to do rigorous evaluations — I get it,” Cuomo said. “I feel exactly opposite.”

 

Cuomo sounds more and more like Scott Walker of Wisconsin every day. Bust the unions. Humble the teachers. Crush public schools and introduce free market competition.

This is a great story about the stupidity of the New York state teacher evaluation model (a value-added model), which is inaccurate and causes untold grief to teachers who are wrongly labeled. It arrived as a comment on the blog. This teacher is fighting back!

 

 

 

Sheri G. Lederman, Ed.D., a top performing fourth-grade teacher in Great Neck, today filed a lawsuit against the New York State Education Department, to invalidate a rating of “ineffective.” Judge Richard Platkin of the New York State Supreme Court, Albany County, directed the Education Department to show cause on January 16, 2015, why the rating of Dr. Lederman, whose student’s generally outperform state assessments by over 200%, should not be declared arbitrary and capricious and why the Education Department should not be enjoined from using its so-called growth model for evaluating teachers unless the model is modified to rationally evaluate teacher performance.

 

The lawsuit which was filed today in Albany explains that Dr. Lederman has been teaching 4th grade in Great Neck for 17 years. In those 17 years, students in her classes have consistently substantially outperformed state averages in English Language Arts exams and 4th grade math exams. For the past two years, when the percentage of students across the state of students meeting or exceeding standards is only about 31%, approximately 68% of Dr. Lederman’s students have historically met or exceeded state standards.

 

Dr. Lederman’s lawsuit challenges the rationality of the statistical model presently being implemented by the Education Department which purports to predict what scores theoretically similar students should achieve and then rates teachers on whether they can show that they have caused growth in their students compared to so-called similar students predicted by a computer model.

 

The lawsuit alleges that the New York State Growth Measures (or Student Growth Model or State Provided Growth Model or Value Added Model), as presently being implemented by Respondents, actually punishes excellence in education through a statistical black box which no rational educator or fact finder could see as fair, accurate or reliable.

 

For More information please contact Bruce H. Lederman, Esq, 516 551 0446

Those who long to see teachers fired based on student test scores must have been happy last week in Tennessee. Four teachers were fired based on the state’s evaluation system. Is it valid? Is it reliable? Were they fired for teaching in high poverty schools? Did the state or the district provide them with support?

Audrey Amrein Beardsley blogged about this termination process in Tennessee here. (The number fired went from five to four after she wrote about it.)

Beardsley wrote:

“It’s not to say these teachers were not were indeed the lowest performing; maybe they were. But I for one would love to talk to these teachers and take a look at their actual data, EVAAS and observational data included. Based on prior experiences working with such individuals, there may be more to this than what it seems. Hence, if anybody knows these folks, do let them know I’d like to better understand their stories.

“Otherwise, all of this effort to ultimately attempt to terminate five of a total 5,685 certified teachers in the district (0.09%) seems awfully inefficient, and costly, and quite frankly absurd given this is a “new and improved” system meant to be much better than a prior system that likely yielded a similar termination rate, not including, however, those who left voluntarily prior.”

A lawsuit seems inevitable.

Two board members were outspokenly critical:

“If the firings are approved then [after independent review], the group of teachers will become the first to lose their jobs under Metro’s new system that relies on state teacher evaluation to dismiss teachers deemed low-performing.

[Superintendent Jesse] Register, in pushing firings that state law authorizes, has said that all students deserve excellent teachers. But evaluations continue to be debated in Tennessee four years after their implementation

“If we have bad teachers in the classroom, I fully agree that we need to get them out of the classroom,” said board member Amy Frogge, who voted against certifying the teachers of each. “The problem is, I’m not sure we’re using a fair measure to do that.”

“Two of the teachers who face termination are at Neely’s Bend Middle School, another is at Madison Middle School and the fourth is at Bellshire Elementary School.

“Teacher evaluations in Tennessee, known as the Tennessee Education Acceleration model, have faced criticism particularly for their use of student gains on tests measured through value-added data. This compares student scores to projections and comprises 35 percent of an overall evaluation score. Qualitative in-class observations by principals account for an additional 50 percent. The remaining 15 percent is based on other student achievement metrics.

“The board’s Will Pinkston, a frequent critic of Register, objected to the board being asked to take up the votes after receiving details about the situations of each teacher only days before.

“I do not trust this process or the people behind it,” said Pinkston, who made four unsuccessful motions to defer voting on the charges.

“If mass teacher dismissals are going to be the new normal, then let’s do it right, not scramble to get information to meet some arbitrary deadline.”

The New York State School Boards Association is supposed to be the voice of the state’s local school boards, but some of those school boards believe that their association has become a voice for the New York State Education Department.

 

School boards in the Lower Hudson Valley are leading the charge, claiming that the NYSSBA is not representing them when it advocates for Common Core or for test-based evaluations of teachers and principals.

 

The NYSSBA is holding its annual conference right now in New York City, and a number of resolutions will be voted up or down.

 

Most people think of Long Island as the center of the resistance to Common Core because it has a large contingent of parent activists and a large number of students who opted out of state testing. But the “Lohud” (Lower Hudson Valley) school boards and parents are equally resistant to the state and federal mandates coming from Race to the Top. One even stopped paying dues to the state school boards association.

 

 

Gary Stern writes:

 

 

“Critics in the Lower Hudson Valley are calling out the School Boards Association for embracing the Common Core, the new teacher-evaluation system and other state-mandated reforms. Some say the group has become too cozy with the state Education Department at a time when many school board members and educators in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties are resistant to the state’s agenda.

 
“They don’t seem to be representing us or our region,” Pleasantville Board of Education President Shane McGaffey said. “It feels like they’ve become a mouthpiece for the state as opposed to their members.”

 
The Pleasantville school board took the unusual action this month of halting its dues payments to NYSSBA. Board members from other districts are watching to see how the School Boards Association responds.

 
NYSSBA is set to hold its 95th annual convention from Sunday to Tuesday at the Sheraton in Times Square. Delegates will vote on several resolutions that Timothy Kremer, NYSSBA’s executive director, said are “surprisingly controversial because, I think, the words ‘Common Core’ are in the resolutions.”
One resolution, in particular, that has galvanized critics supports the controversial teacher-evaluation system, including the use of student test scores to grade teachers. The Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents has called for the system to be killed, saying it is irreparably flawed, but NYSSBA’s official “rationale” for the resolution chides opponets who have “fought relentlessly to roll back” the system.

 
A school board member from the New Paltz School District, Steve Greenfield, has written several tough criticisms of NYSSBA that have been widely shared through social media. He has tried to focus attention on NYSSBA’s acceptance of a $250,000 grant from the state Education Department to provide training to school board members on implementing the current reforms.

 
“NYSSBA is supposed to be our lobby before government bodies,” Greenfield said. “It’s an incredibly important organization. But they are accepting money and curriculum from the very agency they are supposed to be lobbying.”
The School Boards Association, based in Latham, outside Albany, represents 658 school boards or 93 percent of those in the state. It has a budget of about $9 million, 60 percent of which comes from school board dues, and a paid staff of 56 people.

 

 

Even critics say that it is a steep challenge for NYSSBA to represent urban, suburban and rural districts that often have different priorities. And it’s well known that criticism of the state’s reform agenda is more concentrated in the Lower Hudson Valley and Long Island than elsewhere in New York.
Kremer, the group’s executive director since 1998, acknowledged that the Westchester/Rockland area is “ground zero” for opposition to programs tied to the Common Core. He said he is in regular touch with local school board members and educators about their concerns. In fact, he plans to visit the Pleasantville school board on Nov. 18.

 
“We’re trying to say ‘Look guys, we want to hear from you and we want to be open,’ ” Kremer said. “To some extent, they want to work with us.”

 
Kremer emphasized that NYSSBA’s resolutions are not fixed positions but starting points based on surveys of members and months of reviews. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if the resolution on teacher evaluations gets rejected by delegates.

 
“If it gets voted down, our official position will be that we no longer support the use of student performance data in (evaluations),” he said. “People somehow think a resolution is our position. It is not.”

 
But some board members in the Lower Hudson Valley want NYSSBA to take a more critical initial stance.

 
“They’ve glossed over our fears and trepidations,” said Lawrence Boes, another Pleasantville board member. “There is a general feeling that we’re whining, that we’re these wealthy school districts that should acquiesce to the desires of the state Education Department.”

 
Frank Hariton, president of the Ardsley Board of Education, said he expects his board to review NYSSBA’s performance after the convention.

 

“We think the state is diluting the great stuff we did before,” he said. “I think that the state Education Department has become almost a subsidiary of Pearson (Inc.) and that NYSSBA is becoming an apologist for SED. I find it to be terrible.”
Members of other local school boards had similar concerns but said they would wait for the outcome of the convention before criticizing NYSSBA.

 
Of the general tenor in the region, Susan Elion Wollin, president of the Westchester Putnam School Boards Association, which is independent of NYSSBA, said: “It would be fair to say that Westchester Putnam members would enjoy the opportunity to have a deeper conversation with NYSSBA about issues we feel are important to us.”

 
Kremer said that the state’s school reforms are written into state law, and that NYSSBA’s role is to help school boards implement policies effectively.

 
“Whatever one thinks of the Common Core, as we sit here today, it is the law in New York state,” he said. “Our job is to make sure that school boards we represent have the information they need to make smart local decisions.”

 
One resolution on tap for the convention calls for more state funding for professional development tied to the Common Core. Another supports new teacher certification exams aligned with the Common Core.

 
Kremer said NYSSBA accepted a state grant to provide training because “Everyone has been trained in the reforms except for board members.” NYSSBA is using the grant to hold seven workshops around the state featuring speakers who support the Common Core.

John Thompson, teacher and historian, explains here why teachers are beating up reformers. Shocking but true. Charters don’t outperform public schools unless they exclude low performers. Vouchers are sending kids to church schools that do not perform as well as public schools. Teacher evaluation by test scores is a disaster. The testing culture has demoralized teachers. The reformers have no idea how to “fix” schools.

He writes:

“During the high tide of corporate reform in 2010, their scorched earth public relations campaign against teachers and unions was doubly effective because they all sang from the same hymnal. Since then, however, reformers’ failures to improve schools have been accompanied by political defeat after defeat. Now they are on the same page with a kinder, gentler message.

“Now, the most public message is that a toxic testing culture has mysteriously appeared in schools. As the Center for American Progress, in Testing Overload in America’s Schools, recently admitted “a culture has arisen in some states and districts that places a premium on testing over learning.” So, the reformers who made that culture of test prep inevitable now want to listen to teachers, and create a humane testing culture.

“As Alexander Russo recently reported, in Why Think Tankers Hate the Vergara Strategy, some indicate that the Vergara campaign against teachers’ legal rights is a dubious approach. I’m also struck by the number of reformers, who complain about unions’ financial and political power, and who seem to by crying that We Reformers Are Being Beaten Up by Teachers.

“Yes! Reformers Are Being Beaten Up by Teachers!

“I communicate with a lot of individual reformers who agree that test-driven accountability has failed, but they can’t yet visualize an accountability system that could satisfy their reform coalition and teachers. I repeatedly hear the pained protest that, Testing Isn’t Going Away.

“So, what alternative do we have?

“Talk about Low Expectations! Are they saying that a democracy can’t prosper without test and punish imposed from on high? Do they believe that families and students are just as feckless as teachers, and none of us will teach and learn without reward and punish regimes that toughen us up for economic combat in the global marketplace?”

This is an important article in the Shanker Blog by two scholars at the University of Pittsburgh. They are Carrie R. Leana, George H. Love Professor of Organizations and Management, Professor of Business Administration, Medicine, and Public and International Affairs, and Director of the Center for Health and Care Work, at the University of Pittsburgh, and Frits K. Pil, Professor of Business Administration at the Katz Graduate School of Business and research scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center, at the University of Pittsburgh.

Leanna and Pil write:

“Most current models of school reform focus on teacher accountability for student performance measured via standardized tests, “improved” curricula, and what economists label “human capital” – e.g., factors such as teacher experience, subject knowledge and pedagogical skills. But our research over many years in several large school districts suggests that if students are to show real and sustained learning, schools must also foster what sociologists label “social capital” – the value embedded in relations among teachers, and between teachers and school administrators. Social capital is the glue that holds a school together. It complements teacher skill, it enhances teachers’ individual classroom efforts, and it enables collective commitment to bring about school-wide change.

“We are professors at a leading Business School who have conducted research in a broad array of settings, ranging from steel mills and auto plants to insurance offices, banks, and even nursing homes. We examine how formal and informal work practices enhance organizational learning and performance. What we have found over and over again is that, regardless of context, organizational success rarely stems from the latest technology or a few exemplary individuals.

“Rather, it is derived from: systematic practices aimed at enhancing trust among employees; information sharing and openness about both problems and opportunities for improvement; and a collective sense of purpose. Over a decade ago, we were asked by a colleague in the School of Education about how our research might be applied to improving public schools. Since then, we’ve spent a good deal of time trying to answer that question through several large-scale research studies.

“One thing we noticed immediately in our work with schools was the intense focus on the individual educator. This is prevalent not just among school reformers but in the larger culture as well, as evidenced in popular movies ranging from “To Sir with Love” in the 1960s to “Waiting for Superman” nearly fifty years later. And every self-respecting school district has a version of the “Teacher of the Year” award, which has now risen to state and even national levels of competition. In recent years, however, we have also witnessed a darker side to accountability, as districts around the country publicly shame teachers who do not fare well on the accountability scorecards.

“Accountability models find their roots in the discipline of economics rather than education, and are exemplified in the value-added metrics used to evaluate teacher performance. These metrics assess annual increments in each student’s learning derived from standardized tests in subject areas like math and reading. These are then aggregated to arrive at a score for each teacher – her “value added” to students’ learning. Anyone with access to the internet can find teacher rankings based on these scores in many districts across the country.

“Needless to say, many teachers, and the unions that represent them, argue that value-added measures of student performance fail to capture the complex factors that go into teaching and learning. At the same time, reliance on such metrics may undermine the collaboration, trust, and information exchange that make up social capital and, in this regard, do far more harm than good.”

They go on to explain why current “reforms” actually are counter to the coloration and trust that are most needed and most successful.

They add:

“What do these findings tell us about effective education policy? Foremost, they suggest that the current focus on teacher human capital – and the paper credentials and accountability metrics often associated with it – will not yield the qualified teaching staff so desperately needed in urban districts. Instead, policy makers must also invest in efforts that enhance collaboration and information sharing among teachers. In many schools, such social capital is assumed to be an unaffordable luxury or, worse, a sign of teacher weakness or inefficiency. Yet our research suggests that when teachers talk to and substantively engage their peers regarding the complex task of instructing students — what works and what doesn’t — student achievement rises significantly.

“Building social capital in schools is not easy or costless. It requires time and, typically, the infusion of additional teaching staff into the school. It requires a reorientation away from a “Teacher of the Year” model and toward a system that rewards mentoring and collaboration among teachers. It also asks school principals and district administrators to spend less time monitoring teachers and more time encouraging a climate of trust and information sharing among them. The benefits of social capital are unequivocal, and unlike many other policy efforts, initiatives that foster it offer far more promise in terms of measurable gains for students.”

They conclude by asking you to give them feedback. Their email addresses are on the Shanker Blog. Contact them and let them know what you think. Here is their survey. Take a moment and respond.

Steven Singer, teacher, describes the accumulating series of insults and indignities heaped upon teachers by the federal and state governments and by politicians who wouldn’t last five minutes in a classroom.

He writes, in indignation and fury:

“You can’t do that.

“All the fear, frustration and mounting rage of public school teachers amounts to that short declarative sentence.

“You can’t take away our autonomy in the classroom.

“You can’t take away our input into academic decisions.

“You can’t take away our job protections and collective bargaining rights.

“You can’t do that.

“But the state and federal government has repeatedly replied in the affirmative – oh, yes, we can.

“For at least two decades, federal and state education policy has been a sometimes slow and incremental chipping away at teachers’ power and authority – or at others a blitzkrieg wiping away decades of long-standing best practices.

“The latest and greatest of these has been in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

“Earlier this week, the state-led School Reform Commission simply refused to continue bargaining with teachers over a new labor agreement. Instead, members unilaterally cancelled Philadelphia teachers contract and dictated their own terms – take them or get out.

“The move was made at a meeting called with minimal notice to hide the action from the public. Moreover, the legality of the decision is deeply in doubt. The courts will have to decide if the SRC even has the legal authority to bypass negotiations and impose terms.

“One doesn’t have to live or work in the City of Brotherly Love to feel the sting of the state SRC. For many educators across the nation this may be the last straw.

“For a long time now, we have watched in stunned silence as all the problems of society are heaped at our feet…..”

“Teachers dedicate their lives to fight the ignorance and poverty of the next generation and are found guilty of the very problem they came to help alleviate. It’s like blaming a doctor when a patient gets sick, blaming a lawyer because his client committed a crime or blaming a firefighter because an arsonist threw a match.

“The Philadelphia decision makes clear the paranoid conspiracy theories about school privatization are neither paranoid nor mere theories. We see them enacted in our local newspapers and media in the full light of day.

Step 1: Poor schools lose state and federal funding.

Step 2: Schools can’t cope with the loss, further reduce services, quality of education suffers.

Step 3: Blame teachers, privatize, cancel union contracts, reduce quality of education further.

“Ask yourself this: why does this only happen at poor schools?…”

“Poverty has been the driving factor behind the Philadelphia Schools tragedy for decades. Approximately 70% of district students are at or near the poverty line.

“To meet this need, the state has bravely chipped away at its share of public school funding. In 1975, Pennsylvania provided 55% of school funding statewide; in 2014 it provides only 36%. Nationally, Pennsylvania is 45th out of 50 for lowest state funding for public education.”

“Since the schools were in distress (read: poor), the state decided it could do the following: put the district under the control of a School Reform Commission; hire a CEO; enable the CEO to hire non-certified staff, reassign or fire staff; allow the commission to hire for-profit firms to manage some schools; convert others to charters; and move around district resources.

“And now after 13 years of state management with little to no improvement, the problem is once again the teachers. It’s not mismanagement by the SRC. It’s not the chronic underfunding. It’s not crippling, generational poverty. It’s these greedy people who volunteer to work with the children most in need.

“We could try increasing services for those students. We could give management of the district back to the people who care most: the citizens of Philadelphia. We could increase the districts portion of the budget so students could get more arts and humanities, tutoring, wraparound services, etc. That might actually improve the educational quality those children receive.

“Nah! It’s the teachers! Let’s rip up their labor contract!

“Take my word for it. Educators have had it.”

Don’t be a scapegoat any longer, Singer says.

Here is his clarion call, his war cry: Refuse to give the tests they use to label you and call you a failure.

“It follows then that educators should refuse to administer standardized tests across the country – especially at poor schools.

“What do we have to lose? The state already is using these deeply flawed scores to label our districts a failure, take us over and then do with us as they please.

“Refuse to give them the tools to make that determination. Refuse to give the tests. How else will they decide if a school is succeeding or failing? They can’t come out and blame the lack of funding. That would place the blame where it belongs – on the same politicians, bureaucrats and billionaire philanthropists who pushed for these factory school reforms in the first place.

“This would have happened much sooner if not for fear teachers would lose their jobs. The Philadelphia decision shows that this may be inevitable. The state is committed to giving us the option of working under sweatshop conditions or finding employment elsewhere. By unanimously dissolving the union contract for teachers working in the 8th largest district in the country, they have removed the last obstacle to massive resistance.

“Teachers want to opt out. They’ve been chomping at the bit to do this for years. We know how destructive this is to our students. But we’ve tried to compromise – I’ll do a little test prep here and try to balance it with a real lesson the next day. Testing is an unfortunate part of life and I’m helping my students by teaching them to jump through these useless hoops.

“But now we no longer need to engage in these half measures. In fact, continuing as before would go against our interests.

“Any Title 1 district – any school that serves a largely impoverished population – would be best served now if teachers refused to give the powers that be the tools needed to demoralize kids, degrade teachers and dissolve their work contracts. And as the poorer districts go, more affluent schools should follow suit to reclaim the ability to do what’s best for their students. The standardized testing machine would ground to a halt offering an opportunity for real school reform. The only option left would be real, substantial work to relieve the poverty holding back our nation’s school children.

“In short, teachers need to engage in a mass refusal to administer standardized tests.

“But you can’t do that,” say the politicians, bureaucrats and billionaire philanthropists.

“Oh, yes, we can.”

Governor Cuomo made clear that he thinks the current system of teacher evaluation in New York is inadequate. Too many teachers have been found to be effective or highly effective. In his way of thinking, the proportion of ineffective teachers would be as high as the proportion of students with low scores. With a “meets proficiency” rate of only 31% on the state’s Common Core tests, most teachers would be found ineffective, and there would be a whole lot of firing. Then Cuomo would have the challenge of replacing most of the state’s teachers. He knows nothing about education, about teaching, or about children. I could give him a reading list, but he wouldn’t read it. It is frightening to have consequential decisions made by a man who is so uninformed.

 

Cuomo, who never attended a public school, never taught a day in his life, never sent his own children to public school,  wants to crack down on teacher evaluation.

 

He seems not to know that New York has one of the most inequitably funded school systems in the nation. Certainly he knows nothing about the needs of children other than his own and those of his privileged friends. He thinks that breaking teachers and harassing them with test scores will drive up test scores. He is not a stupid man. He is just stupid on the subject of education. As we know, he is in love with charter schools. They get high scores by keeping out the hardest to educate chidden. That must be his ideal.

 

Statewide, the teacher evaluations found only 1 percent of teachers were rated “ineffective” and 5 percent of teachers rated “developing.” Cuomo, while not elaborating on any specific policy revisions, stressed the need for change in the current education system.
The governor also seemed to say that school funding could be based on performance, although a spokesman said he was speaking more narrowly about competitive grants.
“We’re now saying to the public education system, ‘You have to perform and you’re not just going to get funded for process, you’re going to get funded for performance.’ That is a big deal and that is a big shift,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo assailed the current budget process as well, in which school officials come to Albany each year to lobby for more money.
“We’ve gotten to a point where were spending more money per student than any other state in the nation and we’re in the middle of the pack,” he said. “And the whole culture of education in Albany is more money, more money, more money.”

 

 

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