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Monday, March 3, 2014

At least two Jacksonville teachers have Jacksonville lost their minds.

First the Times Union finds the only teacher in the world who thinks the VAM measurements are appropriate and good. In Duval County, among the current 15 semifinalists vying for Teacher of the Year, there are at least two teachers with negative VAM scores. Desirae Royal, a JEB Stuart Middle School science and math teacher, had a negative VAM score, but she suspects there’s some truth in it.
“I feel like I could have had greater values in some areas as far as student performance,” she said.
Being a mathematician, she loves formulas.
“I love VAM scores, and I love the model because I like the accountability,” she said. “I grade my students. I work in public service. Why shouldn’t I be graded?”

The Kafkateach blog rightfully takes her to task:

Who is this woman? A Michelle Rhee secret operative? Is she auditioning for the token Teacher of the Year panel slot on Bill Gates’ propaganda showcase Education Nation?  The Times Union was smart to interview someone in the running for Teacher of the Year.  She probably didn’t want to jeopardize her chances of winning a new Honda Civic by daring to say something negative about her district’s evaluation system. Sounds like Ms. Royal has an excellent future as a spokesperson for the Duval County school district, or if she aims big, the FLDOE. Either that, or she’s completely clueless.  A math and science teacher who takes no issue with a formula that has been proven time and time again to have serious reliability and validity issues, even by the same institute that created the Florida Model, is not one that I want teaching my kids. Did she fail Statistics 101?

Then we have a TFA teacher writing into the Times Union praising their TFA network, re: cult. The piece was to nauseating to find a quote but you can check it out here. 

Cameron Davis the author of a flowery letter to may be a fine teacher. There may be many fine Teach for America teachers in other classrooms and other schools too but if Mr. Cameron and they don’t realize the harm they are causing then they need a reality check.

If you didn’t know it Teach for America takes non education majors puts them through a five week access course and then places them in our neediest schools where they are supposed to serve two years or the exact opposite of what we know to be best for our children. 

Cities and states all across the nation are pushing back against Teach for America or refusing to let them come into their districts. They instead prefer professional teachers or people with an education background who may develop into life long educators, not hobbyists who think, I will give that a try. 

Nationally only a little over a fifth of TFA teachers stay for their third year and the statistics in Jacksonville are even worse. Let me ask the parents out there one simple question. Do you want a professional teacher teaching your child or do you want somebody with very little training, who lacks an education background and who most likely will only be in a classroom for a maximum of two years before they are onto their next big thing?

So thanks Mr. Davis, you may be one of the good ones but it is way past time Jacksonville said no thank you to Teach for America and worked harder to put professional educators in our schools. 

You know we have some really great teachers here and as a group we get a bad wrap. We are often put in positions where success is elusive and then blamed when it doesn’t materialize. Marginalized and ignored by the powers-that-be, hamstrung by insipid rules and polices and barely supported. Despite that however the vast majority are doing some pretty nice things.

Then we have a few crazy people who don’t know what they are talking about too. 

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