Friday, August 16, 2013

Good News! EBR Drops Teacher Firing Quota; Decimation Still Looms

The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board revised its strategic plan last night and dropped its 25% teacher firing quota. This was a sensible action that will remove a misguided threat that would have really damaged the morale of teachers in this large school system.

 I had stated that such a policy would have decimated the teaching force for EBR. But there is still an intentional decimation of teachers coming from our state level. My friend Herb Bassett informed me that the term "decimation" is really a Latin term that comes from a practice of the Roman army of punishing an entire unit (you really need to read this Wikipedia account of decimation) of mutinied or disobedient solders by executing one tenth of the group using a lottery system. I guess this is sort of like what White and his DOE are doing with the imposition of the 10% VAM quota. Sadly VAM is almost as indiscriminate as the execution lottery used by the Romans.

I want to remind everyone that this 10% teacher "ineffective" quota is not in Act 54. It is a purely arbitrary quota dreamed up by our DOE. But in addition to being arbitrary and capricious, it is applied unfairly by selecting out the VAM evaluated teachers for the quota. Teachers evaluated using SLTs are much less threatened by the new evaluation system. Such a mandatory quota directed at only basic skills teachers will cause teachers to want to transfer out of that threatened area. Especially now that we are finding that the student failure rate caused by the new Common Core standards will be much greater than what we had under LEAP. (The New York State public education system is now in total turmoil caused by a failure rate of over two thirds of all students on the Common Core tests.)

This brings to mind a part of the new EBR Strategic Plan that was not amended out last night even though it is just as misguided as the firing quotas. Under the category "Academic Expectations" the Board adopted the following: "All students in the EBRPSS will be proficient in the Common Core State Standards in each subject." I warned the Board that by adopting this they were buying a "Pig in a Poke" (from Arne Duncan of all people). Since the Common Core standards are even more onerous and have widened the achievement gap in New York instead of closing it, I guess we can get ready for more state school takeovers as this new pox is visited upon our students and teachers. This Diane Ravitch blog could just as well be written about John White instead of John King.

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