Archives for category: Teachers and Teaching

Peter Greene has a problem. He is at the top of his district’s seniority ladder. His wife is at the bottom. Under seniority rules as currently written, she would be first to be fired. He says she is an awesome teacher. Everyone tells him so.

But if the legislature eliminates seniority, he will be first to go, because he is the most expensive.

“This is exactly the sort of law that would conceivably save my wife’s position. Ironically, it would probably end mine. For a district in economic hardship, the most attractive layoffs would be to axe the most expensive teachers. Under an “economic hardship” rule, my career would have ended a decade ago. So in state like Pennsylvania where the legislature has been systematically underfunding schools, either my wife or I are vulnerable to furlough.

“I asked her what she thought about devoting herself to a career in which every step up the ladder of success would mean one step closer to being fired. She responded with some NSFW language (my wife is quite the sassmeister when she wants to be). And that’s the thing about non-seniority rules. Under the current system. it’s hard to get a lifelong teaching career launched and safely under way. Under anti-seniority systems, it’s impossible. The world needs more teachers like my wife, and my wife is not a dope. How do you recruit and retain her by saying, “You can have a short-term job in teaching, but you will never have a career.”

“Look, nobody has to tell me that the way this is working sucks. Sucks with a giant suckness that could out-suck the suck of the biggest darkest suckingest black hole in the universe. But as much as this sucks, every alternative proposed by reformsters sucks even more. Pennsylvania schools should be properly funded. My wife should be in a classroom for the rest of her life, and all present and future students deserve to have a teacher of her caliber and dedication. That’s the world we ought to be living in; destroying seniority gets us further away from that world, not closer.”

Despite the challenges, despite the toxic policies, despite the outpouring of “I Quit” letters, young future teachers are taking a stand.

Stephanie Rivera describes a new organization called the Young Teachers Collective. They will plow ahead. They will stick with their chosen profession. They are not afraid. They want to teach. They want to have a voice in the national debate about teaching. They want to give each other hope.

Stephanie started a resistance movement as an undergraduate, inspiring other young teachers to persist. Now she is a graduate student at Rutgers, and she believes in teaching and wants to work with others who have the same aspirations.

Here is the website for the Young Teachers Collective.

 

They say:

 

The current climate of the education system is not inviting. We constantly see poor reforms implemented by people the most distant from the classroom. We constantly hear “don’t go into teaching.” Regardless, we see the profession as something worth fighting for. In order to win this struggle, we understand the importance of coming together to support each other and lift each other up–even if it’s only through an online community. By creating this collective, we hope to:

 

Develop political consciousness among our peers that will be entering the education profession.

 

Develop the tools/skills necessary for young people to organize themselves.

 

Create a network of support while in college and during the first years of teaching

 

Provide young teachers with both a sense of hope and tools on how to fight for a better education system.

 

Advocate and work towards a common vision for the future of education

 

Strengthen our presence in discussions about education

 

Create a space to share\suggest resources to build consciousness as well as materials to use in the classroom

 

In order to do this we plan to engage in the following:

 

Weekly blog posts by members of YTC discussing an issue of their choice

 

Host monthly Twitter Chats. Our past chat includes improving teacher education.

 

Host monthly Google Hangouts

 

Host webinar workshops

 

Host workshops and\or discussions on our campuses\in community when possible

 

IMPORTANCE OF YOUNG AND FUTURE TEACHERS’ VOICES

 

“While many of us have been inspired by teacher-activists currently in the field, we have come to recognize the importance of creating our own collective voice. The voices of young and future teachers are largely ignored in the education movement. We are often dismissed because we are viewed as not having the experience to truly understand the issues facing public education. However, there is no doubt that our voices are valuable and even necessary in this struggle. We are in the unique position of simultaneously facing issues affecting both students and teachers. At the same time, this position presents different challenges that students and experienced teachers are not aware of. Young and future teachers are the only ones who can really speak to these challenges, which is why it is so important that we speak out and have our voices amplified.”

 

While it is heartening to see Stephanie Rivera and other future teachers taking action to save the profession they want to enter, there is something terribly sad about the fact that future teachers feel they must act to do so. In what other profession would future professionals feel they must try to save the profession before it is destroyed by malignant outside forces?

Thank you, Susan Jolley, for sending this comment. I love this line from one of my favorite works of literature (yes, fiction, not informational text, which can teach us so much about the world and what matters most even when it cannot be tallied):

 

There is a line at the end of George Eliot’s Middlemarch that I have always loved about the value to society of the many people who never become famous but add immeasurably to other people’s lives: “for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” It reminds me of the good but unheralded work done by so many teachers,

Stephen Mucher, director of the Bard Master of Arts Teaching program in Los Angeles, warns about the precipitous decline in enrollments in teacher preparation programs.

Teachers are demoralized by scripted curricula and overemphasis on testing. They feel their voice doesn’t count in their workplace. Given the tide of teacher-bashing and mandates, they are right to feel demoralized.

“Career-minded college students are not oblivious to these developments. Since 2008, enrollment in teacher education programs in California is down 53%, and other bellwether states report a similar trend. Nationally, U.S. Department of Education statistics that include both traditional and alternative preparatory programs show that there were nearly 90,000 fewer teachers in training in 2012 than in 2008. Teach for America, which once celebrated 15 consecutive years of expansion, peaked in 2013. It is witnessing as much as a 25% drop in applications this year…..

“Our most promising educators crave work that honors their creativity and intellect. They are suspicious of easy answers. They need to hear more than the cliche that a great teacher can make a difference in a student’s life. They want to know whether this profession will make a difference in their own life.”

The teacher-bashing that has dominated the mainstream media in recent years has undermined the prestige of teaching. The insistence by the Gates Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and many governors that teachers should be judged by student test scores has undermined the profession. What other profession is told how to evaluate its members by state legislators and governors?

Frankly, it is tiresome to hear critics say that teachers are not our “best and brightest.” Neither are our critics. I doubt that most critics would know how to teach a classroom of 30 children of any age, but they feel emboldened to complain about those who do it every day.

As we see the pipeline for new teachers growing smaller, and many veterans taking early retirement, where will we find new teachers? Who will be held accountable for this crisis in the teaching profession?

Nancie Atwell, a teacher of literacy in Maine, won the Varkey Foundation’s $1 million prize as the Global Teacher of the Year. This is like the Nobel prize of teaching. She was interviewed on CNN about teaching, and she talked about encouraging children to read and write, following their interests and passions. She is donating the $1 million to her school, which needs a new furnace and other improvements. When one of the interviewers asked her what she would tell a young person interested in teaching, she said she would tell them to go into the private sector, not into public school teaching. The interviewers were taken aback. Atwell explained that the Common Core and the testing that goes with it had turned teachers into “technicians,” making it hard for them to teach the best they knew how. She would urge them to find an independent school where there is no Common Core and no state testing.

 

Please forward this interview to your legislators, your governor, and especially to Arne Duncan.

A few weeks ago, I heard from Alex Suarez, a medical student at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He has a B.S. in Bioengineering from Rice University. Alex read my book “Reign of Error” and asked if he could propose an new approach to accountability. He put his ideas on paper, and I am glad to share them with you. What do you think of Alex’s ideas?

 

Alex writes:

 

 

 

 

Anyone who has watched “Waiting for Superman” or listened to the endless educational debates will be quick to hear how our public school system is failing. Who’s the culprit in their opinion? The teachers. Contrast that with my own experience of seeing countless dreamers poised with incredible capabilities to inspire and teach, get put into incredibly challenging situations.

 

Teachers can start in a classroom of 22 students; they don’t fare too well. With the current system based on standardized testing, poor performance strips resources. There goes the budget.

 

What does that mean? That same teacher struggling with 22 students is now being asked to teach classes of 30. It doesn’t make sense. Diane Ravitch’s Reign of Error sums it up best: Let’s say the national goal is to be 100% crime free. Depending on the severity of the failure, you lose resources. Imagine the inner city of Chicago versus the upper middle class suburbs. After one year, the inner city of Chicago fails miserably at the goal compared to suburbia so the government heavily restricts the resources allocated to their local police. How do you think the crime rate is going to be next year?

 

We operate on the assumption that any teacher can help any students reach the best score despite anything. No excuses, right?

 

Let’s take a quick look at the metric of how standardized testing affects motivation of teachers and students. Teachers come in with the idealistic dream of inspiring the next generation to love learning the way they have. Once they enter the school, there’s one goal: high standardized test scores. They get pushed to try to meet test standards that ruin the beauty of learning. You suck out their motivation to teach. It isn’t much better from the students’ perspective. Students enter a classroom and are told, “It’s important to learn.” They then quickly lay witness to why they “need” to learn: to get a high test score. Educators try to plead with their students that learning is more than this.

 

Educators are right, there should be more. Why is our current education system’s assessment so focused on these standardized tests?

 

​I would like the opportunity set a few items straight. Many Americans have heard the statistic that public school is broken, that internationally we are fourteenth in reading, seventeenth in science, and twenty-fifth in mathematics. It’s time to sound the alarms and kick our butts into gear.

 

What if, however, I were to tell you that further analysis of these international test scores sheds a different light on the conclusions that can be drawn? If you took the scores of American kids who were in schools with less than 10% poverty, they would be identical to Shanghai, the number one scorer on the exam.

 

Further, Martin Carnoy and Richard Rothstein believed there to be a sampling error in the test where a higher proportion of American schools in poverty were evaluated. Adjusting for this, the United States public education system ranked fourth in reading and tenth in math.

 

Let’s take one-step back, why are these international tests all that important? Reformers say if our students are scoring poorly on international assessments, these future business leaders and our economy will not be able to compete. It makes sense. Right? The data does not seem to corroborate this. Keith Baker, an analyst at the Department of Education, looked at the relationship between how well countries did on international testing and its future GDP. He found that “ the higher a nation’s test score 40 years ago, the worse its economic performance on this measure of national wealth.” We have put all our belief behind a relationship that does not exist.

 

Now, the one thing that American students have that no country can compete with is our level of creativity and innovation. As we push more and more resources to attaining higher scores on standardized testing, we are sacrificing what makes America great. Look at the many schools that are dropping critical components of a liberal arts curriculum to pour more time and energy towards standardized tested math and reading classes.

 

​Legislators attempting to change education have this contrived notion that teachers are machines. Representatives argue that better teachers=better results. They treat teachers much like production lines of old. They argue that streamlining the production line for the purpose of increasing test scores is the way.

 

They say it’s the corporate way, the American way. They are right, kind of. That was the corporate America… of the mid to later twentieth century. They don’t acknowledge the industrial/organizational psychologists research that is driving the best global companies. Workers are not machines. Workers are human. Motivation is critical. Take these two for example: Google and Apple. Look at their campus. Look at their work schedules. Look at what their culture promotes. It promotes health, inspires creativity, and most importantly sparks motivation.

 

They understand that workers are humans and are driven by psychological needs.

Now what are these specific “psychological needs”?​
​In his TED Talk, Tony Robbins best highlighted what he feels to be the six universal needs.

 

The first four are of the body: certainty, uncertainty, significance, and love/connection. The final two are of the spirit: growth and living for something greater than yourself. I believe that if we are able to create an environment that better facilitates public K-12 educators meeting these six needs, we will revolutionize education. How do we go about this?

 

Change the metric, change the country.

 

In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg recalls Paul O’Neill’s reign as CEO of the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa). During his first meet and greet with share holders, where CEOs typically declare their vision for boosting profits by lowering costs, he shocked the audience. He set out his vision: making Alcoa the safest company in America. Safety will be an indicator that we’re making progress in changing the habits across the entire institution. All the stockholders were caught aback. They thought the company was going to crumble. Within a year, Alcoa’s profits would hit a record high. Thirteen years later, the net income was five times its original size; its market capitalization had risen by $27 billion. What shareholders didn’t fully understand was that in order to have the safest environment, the company had to establish several procedures. These safety procedures demanded a streamlined corporate structure and a production line that avoided injuries that would slow production. The important thing here to realize is that people operate within a system defined by its metric.

 

Turning to education, we have seen administrators’ decisions to cut classes of the liberal arts education to solely focus on areas that would be tested by the standardized test. Our metrics are out of whack.

 

I move for a change in the strived-for metric from high stakes standardized testing to teacher satisfaction.

 

Teacher satisfaction will be obtained by asking each teacher the following questions. Each of these will be rated on a 1-10 score, with 10 being the highest.

 

How much pressure do you feel that you could lose your job?

 

How comfortable do you feel asking for help?

 

How much autonomy do you feel in the classroom?

 

Do you feel like you are making a significant impact on your students?

 

How supported do you feel by your fellow teachers?

 

How supported do you feel by your administrators?

 

Do you feel like you have the resources you need to do your best work?

 

How collaborative of an environment do you have?

 

Do you feel that you’re becoming a better teacher?

 

Do you feel that you’re becoming a better role model?

 

These scores will be tallied and will be the primary determinant of how schools will be evaluated. The school’s score will be made public. Schools that perform poorly will have leading educators come to the school and help the school get back on track.

 

We will no longer strip resources from the schools that are most in need. If the teacher’s answers to these questions are yes, they will feel fulfilled by their career and intrinsically motivated, the most powerful driving force. Teachers dream about intellectually stimulating the future generation. They want to develop meaningful relationships with children. They want their kids to escape poverty’s grasp. We must create an environment that helps,not hinders, teachers.

 

Evaluation of teachers will consist of a student questionnaire and student testing. The student questionnaire will read as follows (Note: language will be geared to that grade level; it will be completely anonymous, with the option of the student to right their name if he or she wishes)

 

​Do you feel safe?

 

​Do you feel comfortable with your teacher?

 

​Can you be honest with your teacher?

 

​Do you feel cared for by your teacher?

 

​Do you feel understood by your teacher?

 

Do you look up to your teacher?

 

​Do you enjoy school?

 

​Do you feel like you’re learning?

 

​How much do you think about things learned in school at your home?

 

​Do you feel that your hard work is noticed and rewarded?

 

​Do you feel like your hard work is paying off?

 

​Do you feel if you have an error it is caught?

 

When it is corrected, do you understand why?

 

Do you understand how to fix it/ prevent it from happening again?


​​
The questionnaire results will be shared with the school’s principal and the student’s teacher.

 

The second component will be student’s scores on the exams that are a part of the school’s curriculum. The student’s scores on these will be compared to their standardized testing at the end of the year (in a diagnostic fashion) to ensure the teacher’s curriculum is up to par with national standards. This check is intended to prevent a situation where curriculum exams become super easy and everyone gets As, but at the end of the year all the kids fail to be proficient. In that case, the local school curriculum and tests will need to be made more rigorous.

 

Low scores on any of these metrics will not be immediate grounds for firing. The teacher will collaborate with other teachers and the principal on ways to improve his or her score much in a similar way as the Peer Assistance and Review program in Montgomery County, Maryland. New teachers with no experience and teachers who receive low ratings on these are assigned a “consulting teacher” to help them improve. The consulting teachers help teachers plan their lessons and review student work; they model lessons and identify research-based instructional strategies. The obvious follow up question is what if this teacher doesn’t or can’t improve?

 

That question brings up the idea of tenure and how to remove a teacher. Now, I believe K-12 “tenure” plays an important role in meeting the teacher’s psychological need of certainty. Much in the same way that you wouldn’t be able to focus on reading this article if the ceiling above you could cave in at anytime, the teacher struggles to take innovative risks with the thought that he or she could get fired at the end of the year based on high-stakes standardized tests. However valuable I believe tenure to be, I do believe that some districts make it a near impossibility to remove a poor performing teacher. In those districts, it should change.

 

I support the PAR model for removing poorly performing teachers. A panel of teachers and administrators at that school reviews the performance of the new and experienced teachers who have received one year of PAR support. The panel decides whether to offer another year of PAR, to confirm their success, or to terminate their employment. This method of teacher evaluation has the support of teachers and principals in schools that have adopted this model. In Montgomery with PAR, they have fired over 200 teachers with this new model; in the prior decade to PAR’s implementation, only five teachers had been removed.

 

A few additional principles will get us back on track and help us achieve this new metric of teacher satisfaction.

 

• I call for classroom sizes to be 12 students. Low socioeconomic students need attention. In Daniel Coyle’s Talent Code, he explores why some environments keep producing unbelievably successful talents. He breaks it down to three key characteristics that are needed: deep practice, ignition, and coaching. Deep practice is the process with which people focus intently on trying to achieve something and every time they fail, they acknowledge why they failed, how to correct it, and go about it another time. Classrooms need to be small to allow for the teacher to execute this oversight. The coaching relationship is key, and I think it’s pretty evident in the questions that are on the kid’s questionnaire above. Having a mentor who you trust and can provide a meaningful relationship is also something that I believe can only be fostered on this scale. I want to take a quick moment to expand on how important a role model can be.

 

According to Paul Vitz’s discussion on “The Importance of Fatherhood” in Eric Metaxas’s “Socrates in the City,” there are plenty of poor environments where the fathers are present and there is no criminality: “We think of criminal behavior as somehow related to ghettos or the inner city or something like that. When the social scientists take out whether the father is present and whole issue of the stability of the family, there are no ethnic, racial, linguistic, or cultural factors related to criminal behavior. There have been examples of people who have been step-in fathers that have achieved the goals a father should for their kid.”

 

I think the heart of education for lower socioeconomic children is providing meaningful and trusting relationships with teachers so that they can guide them out of their troubles. Additionally, the classroom of size of twelve students can be broken into pairs or groups of 3, 4, or 6 to compete in challenges and activities.

 

• As for Coyle’s ignition, students need to be surrounded by triggers that further their drive to learn. They need to be exposed to what can happen if they work hard in the classroom. As one example, I recommend after school programs where students have the ability to paint murals in their hallways of prominent historical figures. Even hanging up pictures of people nominated for Time’s People of the Year with a short descriptor below could do the trick. One of the telltale signs of a great school is its relationship with its community. I also wish to support bringing in prominent community members who can serve as role models for these kids and further ignition.

 

• Getting a higher percentage of teachers trained for a year or two before starting in the classroom.

 

• All schools should be staffed with a child psychologist, health care worker, social worker, and school counselors as recommended by the teaching staffs.

 

• Education should include physical education, health, literature, history, music, etc. (all the strong pillars of a liberal arts education).

 

• Teachers should be well paid. Payment should follow a curve similar to an enzymatic curve of saturation. Payment should be a function of three things: overall years of experience, how many years you have been at that one school, and performance. Let’s say a teacher has been at a school for 10 years, and wants to change schools. There should be some deterrent for having the teacher leave schools. Potentially, her pay will be lowered (to 8 years of experience [subtract 2]) with the aim to keep teachers at a particular school over the course of career. Low turnover is an important factor for students.

 

Now, there may be many contentions to what I have offered. One of the main ones against smaller classroom sizes is the cost. Administrators know teachers are the highest cost to education, yet they are the most valuable. People say we can’t spend this amount of money on education. This argument hits at one of the human rules of thumbs that tend to make us err as stated in the book Nudge. “According to economic theory, money is “fungible” meaning that it doesn’t come with labels. Twenty dollars in the rent jar can buy just as much food as the same amount in the food jar. But households adopt mental accounting schemes that violate fungibility for the same reasons that organizations do: to control spending.”

 

Now, as I respect any public official’s attempt to have a balanced budget, it’s important we realize the impact on our budget if we don’t do anything. We will continue to spend over $30,000 per inmate per year, yet $10,000 per student per year. Why do we continue to invest our money and efforts to far downstream of someone’s life?

 

​To meet the class size, we will need more teachers. Economically speaking, we know one thing: a strong middle class yields a strong economy. Increasing the strong middle class jobs (number of teachers) with reliable income will only be good for the economy. They will purchase goods and spend their money, thereby keeping the money in the economy.
​In general, it is my belief we need to spend more money on human capital that will be present in kid’s lives at the school. People and relationships make the differences in kids’ lives.

 

​Overall, the recommendations presented will create a profession that will be respected and desired. This will promote high caliber individuals entering the field. Right now, 40% of teachers leave the profession sometime in the first five years. I am confident that changing our metric would decrease high teacher turnover and burnout, which are highly problematic for struggling schools and more importantly struggling students. It will drive highly motivated individuals towards teaching. The metric will finally allow instructors to inspire curiosity and the love of learning in all their students. Instead of castigating teachers, let’s help them. Crazy idea?

Reader Christine Langhoff says it is amazing that teachers and students have persevered. One big event that is missing from her catalogue of catastrophes is Sandy Hook and other inexplicable school shootings, where educators laid down their lives for their students:

“The test scores are always supposed to rise, n’est-ce pas? And it’s assumed that the students are somehow static, unchanging from year to year. But teachers know it’s not true: one year you have all lovely children whom you want to adopt and the next it’s the class from hell.

“So, what has changed since 2000? Well, we went to war in two countries, sending parents away from their children. We had a nearly total destruction of our financial system. Unemployment reached record numbers and we have had a jobless recovery. Tens of thousands of families went through foreclosures, many became homeless. Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans and its public schools. TFA became a hurricane of its own. The rate of poverty among school children rose above 50%. Public school budgets have been slashed and not restored. Class sizes have grown. Teachers have lost job protections as well as hard-earned pension benefits, making teaching a tenuous profession. An unproven, developmentally inappropriate curriculum has been forced on children and teachers by a few billionaires. Money has been sucked away to charters and to paying for Ipads and Chromebooks.

“Since test “results” reflect the circumstances of those who take them, it must be only the hard work of classroom teachers everywhere, who have remained focused on delivering the best education they can muster to the kids in their care, which has prevented the tests scores from plummeting to the very bottom of the reformsters’ charts.”

Mercedes Schneider was invited to contribute to the Néw York Times’ blog “Room for Debate.” The subject was “What Makes a Good Teacher?” Eric Hanushek said evaluation must be tied to retention and rewards. Amanda Ripley said that teachers’ colleges must be more rigorous and selective. Jal Mehta said that teacher education must be like a medical residency. Kaya Henderson said that the key to great teachers is respect.

Mercedes said that it was time to stop punitive evaluations and let teachers focus on their students, not their scores. She was the only classroom teacher in the debate.

Dawn Neeley Randall is a fifth grade teacher in Ohio. She speaks forthrightly on behalf of her students. She asks: Why are we inflicting this barrage of deceptive, confusing, demoralizing testing on our children? Parents need to know that today’s tests are not like the tests we took in school when we were children. They take time away from instruction–lots of it. They are designed to fail most students. They will crush the children’s spirits and their interest in learning.

 

“Probably the bravest thing I’ve done in my entire 25 year career. Let the chips fall where they may.

 

“Blubbered on the way home after the first round of English Language Arts testing today. Got pretty choked up in the back of the room during the test itself and I think the principal who was in the computer lab administering the tests probably wondered if she was going to need to deal with a full-fledged teacher meltdown (I worried about that myself). This is just all so, so wrong. This is only Day 3 of testing and we still have months to go. Some districts (not mine, thank GOD) in our own state are bullying parents who are refusing to allow their children to sit through tests. Some superintendents (again, NOT mine!) are getting their messages out loud and clear to teachers that they are not to talk about this testing situation with parents. Some schools are making students “sit and stare” after finishing testing in order to make them work longer during the tests. Some schools are offering incentives to students testing (like gift cards and trips to a water park), but disqualifying students whose parents preferred them not to take take these tests and now they will be left behind from a day with their peers.

 

“A teacher in another county told about her third grader crying during yesterday’s test and a local principal told about his child awaking in the middle of the night with anxiety about the upcoming tests. Why are we allowing this? I’ve been begging for help from legislators since last March. I’m done with that. As much as I hate to see myself on video (oh, boy, do I)…I’m going to try to do the bravest thing I’ve ever done in my professional career and tell you how a teacher truly feels. I bet there are a whole lot more out there feeling just like me.

 

Susan Barber, chair of the English department at Northgate High School in Coweta County, Georgia, wrote a letterd to State Superintendent Richard Woods.

 

Her message: “Please protect my instructional time. I want to teach my students…..”

 

“I love students, and I love teaching. I want to be a teacher who is “part of the solution and not part of the problem,” which is harder and harder to do in education today. While I have little control over decisions on a large-scale, my mind is continually thinking on and dreaming of ways to make my classroom, and our system, better.

 

“I believe the greatest and most under tapped resource in Georgia’s education system today is Georgia teachers, but the good teachers are starting to leave….

 

“If I am going to be measured on how well my students read and write, I need more time to teach them to read and write. Some days I feel I spend more time getting my plans properly formatted, administering standardized tests, and going to professional development meetings on the state evaluation system or Georgia Milestone than I do teaching. These things are needed and necessary, but when they interfere with my ability and time to teach, there is a serious problem.

 

“Please protect my instructional time. I want to teach my students.

 

“My students need me to teach them. Please protect our administrators’ time by allowing them to be about the business of curriculum planning, strategic and long-term goal setting, and spending quality time with teachers and students.

 

“In addition to instructional time being used for testing, the amount of money devoted to testing is mind-boggling. Almost $108 million has been designated for the Georgia Milestone assessment. As department chair at my high school, every year I have to tell my team that we will once again not get new textbooks. We have been through three adoption cycles now without new books. I beg that state money will be funneled to where it is most needed – students.

 

“Students do not directly benefit from testing, yet that is where the money goes. I understand this is a complex issue with federal and state requirements to be fulfilled, but our students are suffering while political gains are being made. We must put a stop to this.

 

“Testing does offer some advantages. I am not a proponent of throwing out tests all together. Schools should be held accountable on student learning as well as teacher instruction, but we have swung so far to one side that there is no longer balance in the system.

 

“Testing does not measure a student’s growth in his or her love for learning or the development of grit. Testing does not measure a student’s thought process or style of writing. Testing does not measure the ability to apply knowledge or creative problem solving. I would like to think that these are some of the most important skills students learn in school today, yet they count for nothing in regard to my evaluation or my school’s performance.

 

“The system today is defined by terms such as CCSS, TKES, LKES, CCRPI, GHSGT, GAPS, SACS, CRCT, GMAS, SGAs, SLOs, yet all I want to do is teach SCHOOL. Give me and my colleagues the freedom to do what we are trained to do and what we love doing.”

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