Unfortunately there is a huge “pro-business ed reform” bias in the mainstream media, so I was heartened to find this thoughtful and nuanced article examining the post-strike and pre-closing landscape in the Chicago Public Schools from the perspective of the actual teachers who are required to implement these policies. It was in the Atlantic of all places.
There were a couple of money quotes:
But The New York Times recently reported that only 3 percent―or fewer―of teachers under new systems in Florida, Tennessee and Michigan were rated unsatisfactory, raising questions about how effective that agenda will be. “The hope of the business folks is that this … will identify more failing teachers so they’ll be gotten rid of. I’m just not sure that’s going to happen,” said Sue Sporte, research operations director at the University of Chicago’s Consortium on Chicago School Research, which is studying the implementation of the evaluations in the Windy City. “If only 2.5 percent is rated unsatisfactory, I don’t know how satisfactory that will be to the constituency that believes that kids are failing because teachers are awful.”
Will that constituency finally follow the data or will they keep pushing more hair brained ‘reforms’, fire more teachers, strip their rights to bargain until the data conforms to their expectations?
Another point, entirely lost by the ‘reform crowd’ is that it’s pretty hard for anyone to teach you when your friends are getting killed, your parents are out of work or in jail, or the zip code you live in is poorer and more dangerous than most third world countries
Says one principle at a school that has buried several students this year
“If there was the assurance that this was going to be used properly, I don’t think teachers would be as anxious about it,” said Stamps, recording secretary of the union’s Black Caucus. “But when there’s such an attack on so many other areas, it’s just natural to be suspicious of this as well. Even if this could potentially have been a good thing, it’s just the time at which it’s being implemented.”
Stamps is highly critical of the portion of the evaluation that will come from test score improvement. “I have children in my classroom who have witnessed not one, not two, but three and four homicides, deal with homelessness, deal with molestation, deal with bullying, deal with being relocated from one place to another, parents just trying to figure out how to survive,” she said. “And then you want to know why they’re not testing at grade levels? … Then you want to tie–getting to your point–your teacher evaluations to how well your kids are doing on a test?”
Look at our inner cities, their schools, and the neighborhoods around them and you see a constituency entirely forgotten and abandoned by their government, their city, and the party that dominates it. Thank God for Republicans, because there is really little reason these days for poor African Americans to vote for Democrats.