Monday, March 12, 2012

The Object is to Fire Teachers; and Lots of Them

Have you sent emails to your legislators yet? Time is running out! Just scroll down to my Friday, March 9th post to get sample emails.Well it turns out that the Governor's teacher dismissal legislation, (HB 974 or SB 603) is even worse than I thought it was. When you combine the new legislation with the implementation of the Act 54 evaluation, there are two major ways a teacher can lose tenure and get fired! An astute reader of my blog posted a comment to last Friday's post to point out that according to a letter dated Feb. 28 sent to local superintendents by John White (go to page 4 to the section titled Final Evaluation), a teacher will get an "ineffective" overall rating if either the value-added (quantitative) portion of the evaluation or the Principal's evaluation (qualitative) part of the evaluation is unsatisfactory. So even if your principal believes you are doing a good job, that value-added part of your evaluation that was supposed to count for only 50% of your evaluation can destroy 100% of your future as a teacher.

Remember, you are not guilty of paranoid thinking if "they" really are out to get you!
John White also sent an ESEA waiver proposal to Washington at the end of February that totally changes the Louisiana accountability system. It takes away almost all the responsibility of the parents, sets totally impossible student testing goals to be achieved by all public schools in two years and proposes that the new evaluation system will require 10% of the teaching force to be rated "ineffective" each year (at least in the LEAP tested subjects).

How did all public school teachers' non-educator "bosses" at the Department of Education come up with the figure of 10% ineffective teachers each year anyway? Believe it or not, it comes from a mis-quote of education researchers' findings concerning the impact of teacher quality on student performance. Follow this link  to the  Educators For All website to see exactly how important research was twisted to mean something completely different from the conclusions that were made by researchers.

To put it simply, the incorrect assumption that teacher effectiveness is the most important factor in student success, leads our reformers (Governor Jindal and John White) to the inevitable (but incorrect) conclusion that all you have to do is fire the teachers that produce the least student progress (value-added), replace them with new teachers, and in a few years all of our students will perform at or above average! This is junk science based on false assumptions and has never been shown to work.

The primary factor related to student success in school is the rate of poverty (as measured by the percentage of students on free lunch). So if you have the misfortune (or you simply have chosen to work with at-risk students) your future will be at-risk when the Act 54 evaluation is implemented next year. Even if you are teaching more privileged students, value-added can defeat you if your students do not progress as predicted by formulas you will never see. If HB 974 or SB 603 passes, only one bad evaluation (which is in the hands of your students), and your tenure is gone. Also, according to the governor's legislation, the evaluation itself is the ultimate proof that you are "ineffective" and you  can be terminated immediately even if you have a hearing. And by law, that bad evaluation result must go to any of your future employers. So much for professional treatment of teachers. So much for the "teacher empowerment" talked about by Jindal and White. There are plenty of horror stories about the value-added evaluations being tested in other states like New York and Tennessee. Just click on this link to look at one example in Washington DC.

Please send emails now to your members in the Legislature, and particularly to members of the House and Senate Education Committees. (Make sure you have correct grammar and no misspelled words) I hope teachers and administrators will take a day of personal leave either Wednesday or Thursday to attend first the House Education Committee, then the Senate Education Committee meeting.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

This seriously scares the hell out of me! I hope my other teacher friends read this and are scared enough to do something about it.

Anonymous said...

Why should it scare you??? You voted for Jindal so shut up and live with it!!!!

Anonymous said...

That disrespectful comment was not necessary. We are adults, so let's respect everyone. Besides, a person votes for whom he/she feels will do the best job. One cannot predict what an official will do once elected into office.

Anonymous said...

If you are not a teacher then you have no idea how hard we work. True, there are good and bad employees in all occupations. How can you never have stepped foot in a classroom as an educator and attempt to understand how it TRULY our system works. Let's go tell a physician how to operate on his patients based on how many people he/she has cured of cancer. We don't live in a perfect world and some people will fail tests!!!! Stop putting blame on us......

Anonymous said...

I am a teacher and I work at a low poverty school with low test scores! I have NEVER had a bad evaluation from anyone coming observe in my classroom. Teachers are not magicians! We can only reach those children that are willing and able to learn. We also need parental support! Without all three things the student will NOT learn all the skills taught no matter how good the teacher is! If you are not a teacher you have NO idea how hard we work and how difficult our job is!

Anonymous said...

Bobby Jindal is using education in Louisiana to make a name for himself so he can head to Washington in three years. That's what this is all about. In three years he won't care one bit about the mess he's made in this state, nor the people's lives he has affected.