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Larry Sand
Grading the Teachers « Back to Story

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I agree with the author... Any craft can be measured.
It is a tragedy in today's school world that the young citizens of tomorrow are being short chanaged by a curriculum that is designed to dumb down America. Additionally, the text books being used in schools today, along with the subjects being taught are a disgusting conglomeration of selective material that is pushing agendas on small innocent minds.
Teachers in a classroom should be objective not subjective in their approach to influence the minds of the young. I tell you with all the immoral teaching along with all the progessive, liberal mentoring they receive, the child in school today has no chance whatsoever of becoming a sound Christian thinking, moral, family oriented, (Man, Woman, and Children), country loving, with pride, contributor to Society person.
It is absolutely time to grade teachers on their abilities to impart objective knowledge to the students in their charge. Also, it is important to make sure that teachers are in fact qualified to be teaching the subjects they profess to be astute at teaching. Therefore to provide the student with the best possible learning experience teachers should not only be evaluated they should be tested to provide the young with the best education they can get to prepare them to enter society as functioning adults ready to contribute.
I heartly agree the time has come to rectify the situation in our schools not only in this state, but all states in the U S. It is also time that parents become more particpatory in the process of the edcuation of their children in a public education system that is corrupted by the subjective education process now in place.
If we don't want stupid citizens in the future, ones that cannot function in a normal setting, then we as citizens must do something now to change the course of education.
Thank you Mr. Van Roekel for buying into the sports analogy. Now that you have equated value-added evaluation to batting average let's go down the list. What teacher evaluation metric would correspond to out-assists, for instance? Let's work together to send the non-performing teachers down to the minor leagues just like in baseball. Welcome aboard the life boat to save our children's future.
Great News!, Yet I'm 63 and can't retire till--- dead, because of two years back to back of teachers with issues.
As a 30+ year teacher, now retired, it's my observation that solidarity can be another term for mediocrity. In many situations mediocrity is at best a compromise.
Union Bosses are always symptomatic of the problem in unions, just as occasionally a good union leader can be beneficial. Unfortunately, power corrupts and that the truth in any human organization. Right now, unions are major source of problems in the world.
Trackets should absolutely be evaluated on performance. Lousy teachers should be fired not protected
I'm completely fine with this as long as value-added parent evaluations go with it. After all, they supply the raw materials the employees have to work with. And a lot of it is so far from even mediocre-quality it staggers the imagination. In the private sector, the owners of the company I work for provide a good working environment and the equipment I need to do my job, while paying more than a teacher makes. As a teacher (an occupation I held for 5 years), I had to shell out about $300.00 a year for supplies that the "owners" failed to supply that were needed to do my job, and we're talking things like pencils, paper, books, etc., not anything high-tech. If you're going to claim to be "owners," it's time to face up to at least some of the responsibility of ownersip.

Critics love to compare teaching to the real world when those that are criticizing have not only not walked an inch, let alone a mile in a teacher's shoes, but also have a fascinating disconnect between the fact that they want to pay less and less and expect to attract better and better teachers, when they are more than willing to shell out billions in bailout money to CEOs who contiunally drive large companies into the ground.
@Ellie and others

In the worst performing schools (actually the schools having the worst performing students), the parents do NOT "pay" the teachers - most are on government aid and pay no taxes. After you see how much these parents have messed up their children, do you really want to give them input as to the administration of the school?

In any case, as others responders have noted, education is NOT like baseball, or for that matter, business and manufacturing. Especially at the high school level, students themselves account for 90% of the equation. As Robert Weissberg writes in "Bad Students, Not Bad Schools:"

Intelligence + Motivation + School Resources + Pedegogy + Teacher Quality = Academic Achievement

In this formula, Intelligence and Motivation are weighted much more heavily (6X to 8X) compared to Pedagogy and Instructional Quality (1X to 2X); however, all reform efforts of the last 40 years or so are directed soley at the least important factors and NO effort or attention is paid to the strongest factors, those under control of the students.

Anyone who has spent any real time working in urban high schools can vouch for the fact that many of these 'students' do not simply fail to grasp academic content, but actively resist learning in any way possible. Short of
sci-fi advances in brain surgery or psychological mind control, there is no way to force children (especially older kids) to learn. They are not passive like widgets in a factory, there to be manipulated by workers/ teachers, no matter how skilled.

The real solutions are many and complex.

First, STUDENTS and parents must he held accountable for attending school (95%+) and doing prescribed work. No excuses should be allowed for failing in these requisites, since learning is not possible without them.

Next, we must realize not all students are cut out for academic work. We must restore respect to all forms of work, be it manual labor, skilled trade, or professional/ academic. There are multitudes of well-paying jobs that do not require college or academic rigor. Give non-academics the option of choosing paths that best fit their aptitudes, preferences, and affect. Providing alternative choices for the less academically-prone (but trainable) students

would have the added benefit of removing many of the behavior problems from the public schools, which inhibit the learning of the otherwise capable students.

Finally, restore academic rigor and attention to those who can best manage the demands of higher learning, so that our future leaders and professionals can once again be the best in the world. We have many young people who could do great things but for the lack of attention given to them. A tremendous amount of academic attention is wasted on the bottom quartile whose needs could be better met through vocational education.

As an aside, there are many changes that must be made to restore order to the classroom; teachers and principals must be given back full authority to discipline students. As it stands now, students have implicit license to do as they please, regardless to the impact on education. It should be easier to suspend and expel students who chronically disrupt the school and fail to comply with the most basic rules of decorum and respect. There has been built up such a system of laws (students' "rights") with which compliance almost guarantees educational failure.

Educators' hands are tied in the operation of schools, yet outsiders want us held accountable for outcomes totally beyond our control.
As Dr Paul has stated,the IRS needs to be dismantled,abolished, and taxpayers untethered from this Marxist extortion, paying for their indoctrination schools. Americans are forced by property taxes,particularly, to support what one could say is a Communist school apparatus-far removed from the idea of a REPUBLIC! An entire deliberately dumbed-down generation.Read www.commieblasters to come up to speed on the transition of our country to Socialism/Communism by the traitors in the Congress,WH and Government.Teachers are instruments of this Marxist ideology,beginning in teacher education schools and perpetrated by the NEA and AFT, which the Landmark Legal Foundation has filed multiple lawsuits against their corruption.
George Rush Baker June 21, 2011 at 5:58 AM
Reply to Richard:
In the past (my generation) students who did not care, who did not apply themselves, who were handed high school diplomas after the school system had long ago given up on them and was just pushing them out the door, those students went on as follows: the male students went into the military or into factory work. The female students in that category married the men who went into the military or into factories.
The military is much more selective these days; its no longer the place to go to avoid beging sent to prison. The factory jobs either don't pay a living wage anymore or are filled with illegals. And marriage for that class is not a valid choice, when single motherhood can bring the woman so many more government goodies - food stamps, welfare, free school meals, rental assistance, free daycare, endless 'job training' entertainment, etc - things that a poorly-paid husband could never afford.
The 800-lb gorilla in the room is the fact that the success or failure of students can be directly linked to their situation at home.
The Washington, DC public school system expends almost the highest per student monies in the country; most exclusive private schools do not have the financial resources (i.e., the American taxpayer) to spend on education that the DC schools have.
The fact is, backed by all of the standardized testing done to date, is that the DC public schools, in terms of academic performance, fall within the bottom 5% in test scores in the nation.
Money has nothing to do with it.
And its not going to get any better, because it is so, so very politically incorrect to discuss the real causes and the necessary solutions to the problem.
Political correctness and burying our heads in the sand, and bowing to the power of the self-serving labor unions are not going to help the inner-city children. They need and deserve better.
Better schools, better home situations, and better lives when they grow up are what they deserve.
The definition of "value added" seems to be reduced to "highly effective teachers routinely propel students from below grade level to advanced in a single year." Teachers who are that talented at motivating others are rare birds -- much like the .350 pro ball hitters. Let's get a bit more realistic about teachers and the nature of the teacher-student and school-home relationship.
Most comments I have read in response to this article and any others on the same topic have a single commonality that strikes me as overly defensive and aimed at deflecting scrutiny from the main focus.
Both parents and students do have a critical role in educational outcomes as do teachers. However, of these three groups the teachers are the only ones getting paid to play their part; and they are being paid by the parents. Certainly in any retail venue it's the customer who gets to scrutinize and make the final evaluation. None of the teachers responding seem to acknowledge this critical difference in relative positions. Parents hire the teachers and the teachers should ultimately be answerable to them. It's long past time for teachers to stand up and take responsibility for their role in the learning and performance of their students. If I were currently a teacher I'd be embarassed at my peers and union immediately jumping up and blaming someone else and giving priority to protecting tenure and pensions. When every effort to change and improve is met with rock solid resistance the only ones who lose are the students. What a shame.
This article, like so many on the subject, is unfortunately a lopsided one because it buys into the myth of the all-powerful, indeed magical teacher, a myth promoted, oddly enough, by the very ed schools out of which our teachers come. Education, for those who will consider the whole picture, is not in fact a one-way street, with the teacher as God and the student some passive recipient of His ministrations. Rather, the student has as much of a role in his education as the teacher surely, and so as well do parents whose job it is not to send off to schools spoiled children insufficiently socialized to learn. All players must be rated in any meaningful assessment to avoid teacher-bashing, student bashing, or parent bashing.
Ho-hum, just another vapid voice crying out in this wilderness we call American education. When are we going to hear about the millions of students who care little about education and apply themselves even less? After teaching for 35 years I find that students, their parents and society at large are the main stumbling blocks to learning. By and large teachers spend their lives in the service of those they teach, and all they get in return are negative critiques like the one above. When you truly and objectively consider what teachers have to go through on a daily basis, you will come to the conclusion that they are terribly underpaid, and should have even better retirement and health benefits.

None of these ideas like value-added evaluations are a cure-all (or even a simple band-aid) for the troubles caused by our society in general -- a society that is anti-intellectual to begin with and sees education solely as a means of getting a job to make money. Until we change this cultural mindset and see education for what it really is and should be nothing will change. And Larry Sand, who should know better, needs to develop weightier arguments than these specious ideas and baseball analogies that miss the point altogether.
Gilbert W. Chapman June 20, 2011 at 7:50 PM
As a long term school board member, who was not particularly fond of the NEA, I would like to offer this obervation.

Our school system (in Vermont) was considered one of the top 100 in the nation by a Wall Street Journal subsidiary publication. Upon retiring from the board, I made the below statement:

"What I've realized is that the tax payers, superintendents, principals, teachers, cooks, bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria cooks, school board members, and particularly the students are doing excellent work in the majority of cases.

"The real problems in American education are, for the most part, attributable to the an extremely high percentage of negligent and/or uninformed parents. And, parents are one group that most politicians and school board members are afraid to condemn because, if they do, they won't be re-elected."

To be candid, there are three 'classifications' of teachers: 10% are gifted, 80% do a pretty good job, and, of course, 10% should not even be in a classroom. So what else is new? Those same percentages apply to lawyers and doctors.

It's about time that people like Mr. Sand started to 'bash' parents. Case closed,

I am currently involved in a large scale research grant which explores the use of value-added data in educator professional development planning. There is an expected pattern that emerges as we enter each new district/school/grade level/classroom. Some are very enthusiastic, some don't care and one or two are vehemently opposed. But, over time most (even the most skeptical) realize that there are ways to effectively raise test scores and that evaluations like these give them the opportunity to quantify their own professional growth. Once our partner teachers begin to see positive outcomes in their classrooms, they are excited and motivated to continue improving themselves, their craft and, in turn, their students.