A Teachable Moment

PCT President Morty Rosenfeld periodically attempts to make sense of the increasingly senseless world of public education.

Never Discount Stupidity…..

If there is a statement or idea I’m know for, it is, “Never discount stupidity as the cause of your problem.” I have recourse to it on almost a daily basis, as I negotiate my way through the contemporary world of public education. In recent days, it has been particularly useful as an answer to the myriad questions I’m asked about the new APPR law, the law which now governs teacher evaluation in New York State. How is it fair to evaluate teachers on the basis of student tests that have not been designed to measure teacher performance? Never……… Why has the state said that it is impermissible to take student attendance into account when counting their scores against a teacher’s performance? Never……….

The question unnerving teachers since the passage of the law is, “Will my evaluation score be made public?” Unless and until the law in New York is changed, these scores will be available to the public, as stupid as that fact is. Think of the chaos to come absent a shield law. Objectively meaningless numbers will take on a life of their own as a new kind of grade grubbing comes into being, as parents try to get the teacher with the highest score for their children. Once one believes the scores have meaning, it is perfectly logical that parents will want to secure “the best” teachers for their kids. Who will want the effective 80% teacher when there are highly effective ones of 90% or better in a school? It’s truly hard to imagine a more elegantly insane idea for boosting the performance of public schools. But I have never discounted ……… For those who wish to help change the law, you can fax a letter to your legislators and the Governor by clicking here.

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