Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What If We Just Cut Out The Middleman And Pass A Law That Says All Kids Have To Be Smart?

A couple of days ago we told you how the good folks at the University of Wisconsin had tapped into some o' that sweet sweet Microsoft lucre and were about to take a trip down to Hillsborough County, ask around about the good teachers, then, using their mad mathematical skillzzz, laptop computers and graphing calculators, produce a formula that proved those people who everyone thought were good teachers were, in scientific fact as demonstrated by the use of geometric logic and even calculus, actually good teachers. X2+2X+N=Y baby!

Yay science!

Well, not everybody can afford to have big time college professors come down and put on a professionally developed Powerpoint show (with sound and animated gifs!) to tell you what you already know--and have Bill Gates pay for it. Take Colorado for example:
Colorado is changing the rules for how teachers earn and keep the sweeping job protections known as tenure, linking student performance to job security despite outcry from teacher unions that have steadfastly defended the system for decades.
Right. See, who needs all them calculator jockeys when you can just pass laws and stuff? We mean, it's a law right? That means you have to do it.   Problem solved.
Many education reform advocates consider tenure to be one of the biggest obstacles to improving America's schools because it makes removing mediocre or even incompetent teachers difficult.
 Yeah, 'cause see if you're a superintendent, or a principal or some such educational leader in a school and responsible for, you know, leading and whatnot, the last thing you should be asked to do is something that's "difficult." We mean, it's like someone expects you to be responsible or something. Who needs that kind of headache?

Besides, everybody knows if you want to get rid of a teacher you have to get all legal on their buttocks, collect evidence, make a case, be organized and consistent, respectful of the teacher's rights and just generally follow the rules, but you know the worst part? You could lose. Now what kind of system is that where you want to get rid someone and people just won't take your word for it? You know, like with students?

Tick off the principal--wham, you're gone. Doesn't matter whether you're in school or not. Now there's a system that works. Aww crap. See what happens when you start giving people rights? And if the kids will sue you, think what the teachers will do. The whole thing is just too dang complicated, that's why we needed the legislature to pass a law. 
Colorado's legislature changed tenure rules require teachers to be evaluated annually, with at least half of their rating based on whether their students progressed during the school year. Beginning teachers will have to show they've boosted student achievement for three straight years to earn tenure.
 Make progress, boost achievement. What could be simpler? It's not like that could ever be misinterpreted, or abused, especially since we know all kids progress alike and all start from the same point each year. See? You don't need fancy science. Why actually deal with the complicated multi-dimensional, messy process of teaching and learning in a complex inter-related social environment when you've got a legislature that can pass a law?

"Difficult"? Ha. That's for the teachers who have to figure out what to do with these kids, not the administrators who will rate them.

1 comment:

skyewriter said...

Ulgh. As an empiricist in higher education (in an field devoted to pedagogy) this law and tenure BS makes my skin crawl allz the timez.

Because, as you so astutely point out, Ironicus, student achievement is absofuckinlutely directly correlated to *teachers* and *only* teachers and not context, funding, enrollment caps, achievement gaps, and for good measure let me add violence in video games [please note sarcasm].

Students are *people* not lab rats. We cannot show them the maze and say go forth and find your way out. Problem is, most people fail to perceive the maze from the get-go... you cannot teach critical thinking when there really is no understanding of the thinking going on.

On my soapbox, sorry. But students in the age of the intertubes think in ways teachers cannot even begin to understand and in terms of *how* students learn, we may as well say we know why the universe was created and call it a day.

Great post. Love your blog. Can't stop by nearly as much as I like. Hope your studies are going well...