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Monday, March 3, 2014

The Times Union’s rare, brief, ever so slight, moment of clarity

It’s no secret that I have often disagreed with the Times Union’s editorial staff.  I also think they are partly responsible for the fact we aren’t where we should be as a city. They have routinely been on the wrong side of education issues and given education leaders a pass when they said or did things that were counterproductive.  They have routinely fumbled the ball.

That’s why I was so surprised when I read their recent editorial about evaluating teachers that they actually got it right and if you just spit milk out of your mouth I apologize.

The genies out of the bottle with evaluations, we aren’t going back to the days when a principal would evaluate their teachers, though I believe having great school leaders evaluating teachers is the way to go, sadly it seems like we aren’t all that interested in developing and placing that many great leaders in our schools either.  So we need some kind of metric in which to evaluate teachers and that is where the Times Unions brief moment of clarity comes into play.

They made the same suggestion I have made a thousand times if not more, but hey who listens to me, I am just a teacher. They gist of what they said was we should give a test at the beginning of school to see what kids need and then at the end to see if they got it.

The thing that they didn’t mention however is that we should give the teachers the results immediately, because if we don’t then the tests remain what they have become, a gotcha moment designed to punish teachers and schools.

These high stakes tests shouldn’t be used to punish schools, teachers and students but that’s how they have been used here in Florida. They should be used to find weaknesses so they can be fixed. Instead the powers-that-be have used them to further their privatization agenda to line the pockets of their friends, supporters, often time family members and occasionally themselves, with cash.

Will we still teach to the test? Unfortunately yes, the stakes are too high for teachers not to but at least now they will know what kid’s deficits are and attempt to make them up. At least now we will be able to identify those kids that need extra help day one and be able to start running.

So good job Times Union, you recognized the Teacher Evaluation system was a disaster, a few years after it 
was passed and people told you it would be and you suggested something that knowledgeable people who care about our children, teachers and schools have been suggesting for years.

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