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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thanks Florida for inspiring me to be mediocre.

I wanted to thank the state of Florida for inspiring me to be mediocre, my principal and students and their their parents may not be so grateful. You see senate bill 736 which ties teacher evaluations to teacher pay is in full effect this year. When the state legislature passed the bill they said they would be rewarding the best teachers but the truth is they have inspired most of the best teachers, those with experience and a proven track record to just get by.

As a veteran teacher with a professional contract, one I have to renew every five years, I am guaranteed a job as long as I prove to be effective and don't commit any acts of moral turpitude. In short I can't be fired just because my principal doesn't like me for refusing to work prom, leaving before six, he has a neighbors cousin who wants to try the job or some other reason. I am also not eligible for merit pay.

Now I could give all of above up and go on a one year contract where I could be fired for any reason at the end of the year but I don't think that's a good idea and most veteran teachers agree with me.

Now here's the rub, I only have to score an 80 on a 200 point scale to be considered effective something I could probably do sleep walking through the day in my pajamas. To give you some scale last year I received 77 points in student growth, which means I only needed three points from my principal (I got sixty), now it's true this year I have to depend on the district average for reading teachers, but as things stand now that's just 20 points.

Segue, half of my evaluation is based on a subject I don't, teaching students I don't know at schools I don't work at.  Welcome to Florida where up is down, black is white and people who want to dismantle public education are in charge.

My career has been turned into a game of get to 80 points, because at 80 I am effective and I will get paid the same as I would have had I gotten to 200, not that anybody in my district, who has to depend on the averages of a group of teachers to get their student growth scores is going to get to close to 200 anyway.

Lesson plans? What's the point I can only lose ten points if I don't do them.

Professional development? Nope I can free up my afternoons now because the most I can lose for that is another ten too.

Using Data and creating a nurturing environment are now optional as well.

It might be difficult to half ass the rest of my career but every time I feel bad for not giving my all to my students I can just think about the disrespect the state of Florida has heaped upon me and all the other professional teachers.

There are other small problems too, like how merit pay has very little evidence that says it works and tons that says it doesn't and the states use of VAM scores that don't factor in poverty and the Department of Education says are wrong more than a third of the time but to be honest what does it matter to me. I have just effectively toiled for the last 14 years for the honor of having to just score an eighty on my evaluation for the rest of it.

So Florida, thanks, not for the opportunity to earn more money but the clarity to know from now on I come first. 


  1. Another look at the dirty face of the profit-driven, corporate supported, fake public education reform movement from the top down.

  2. When I clicked to print my eval, I lost 10 points? WTH? Plus only 1 of 17 showed gains in math on the CGA. Again...WTH? 15/17 showed gains in reading. I am disgusted.

  3. My VAM counts the AP scores of 34 students who were in my AP class. I am punished because one parent refused to have her child take the test (the child is in college and doing just fine), and because one student walked out of the test after 30 minutes because his ADD medication ran out two days before and concentration was out of the question. There was no punishment for the proctor who let him leave. The worst part is the other 124 students had no effect on my evaluation - they were not important to the state of Florida. I could have showed them movies all year, not graded one essay, and given them all A's for occasionally coming to class - or I could have failed them all VAM says they don't matter. They matter to me, they matter to their parents, they matter to my peers, but they don't matter to the politicians, law makers, and corporations.

  4. I missed highly effective based on the performance of a group of students I didn't teach.