Friday, April 11, 2014

Teachers Again Targeted by Reformers

Indiana Rep. Bob Behning thinks that the teacher evaluation numbers were unrealistic.

State Board of Education Member Gordon Hendry believes that the teacher evaluation system failed.

A florist and a businessman walk into a bar…

That may be unfair, but I would ask the florist (Behning) and the businessman (Hendry) what percentage of teachers they believe should have failed their evaluation? 

As it stands, just under three percent of Indiana teachers rates as “needs improvement” or “ineffective”. Eighty-seven percent of those teachers evaluated rated in the top two categories of the four category teacher evaluation system which looks an awful lot like model legislation pushed by the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC.

To me, that would be cause to celebrate. Instead, Behning wants to use the data to further push his reforms, and Hendry is talking failure.  Both seem to be pushing for drastic measures.

Behning in particular is the scariest one.  He's talking things like removing local control from parts of the evaluation process and expecting more of a bell curve of results.

I’m willing to say that the system needs some tweaks, but I’d like to see what they want to tweak and why they want to tweak it. If the tweak is made so that more teachers fail their evaluations unfairly, then I would think that there will be a great amount of push back during the next General Assembly session.

All I know is that I have a lot more confidence in an educator like Glenda Ritz to make reforms than a businessman like Hendry or a florist like Behning. Ritz at least knows what it’s like to be on the inside of a public school classroom. I will also agree that what needs to be done is what's best for the students that walk through the door into our classrooms.

What they will find is that most teachers are effective and that successful schools require more than just an highly-effective teacher and administration.  The school can do everything right but still fail if all stakeholders are not on board.  I know that's not what the florist or the businessman want to hear, but that's the truth as I see it.

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