I’m increasingly perplexed by the language of the school reformers, finding it more and more difficult to understand what they are talking about. Here in New York, educators are engaged in discussions of “the dosage” students get of a particular subject by a particular teacher. This is said to be necessary to ascribe growth scores to teachers as part of their yearly evaluations. It seems to me that the words people choose give us some insight to the way in which their minds work. The State Ed bureaucrat who coined this term analogizes the act of receiving instruction to taking a dose of medicine when one is ill. Shouldn’t that cause us to wonder why such an obviously ignorant person is engaged in making education policy?
It may surprise some of my readers to learn that public school administrators are being trained at great expense to look for “artifacts” to the value teachers ad to their students. (Hum! Value added. There’s another peculiar term to talk about education.) I always thought I knew what artifact meant and was therefore nonplussed at what that term could possibly have to do with the evaluation of teachers. It can’t be that administrators will now be looking for creations of earlier peoples or civilizations. That wouldn’t make any sense. It can’t be that the reformers are talking about the accidental effect of something which causes incorrect results, as in, The results of the standardized test were skewed owing to an artifact in its administration. Or could it be? Probably not.
How about the state’s Office of Great Teachers and Leaders? Just what the hell might that be? It has something to do with The Race to the Top, yet another completely meaningless expression. The top of what? Why is education a race? My imagination conjures up a picture of a group of self-appointed jackasses who sit around a huge conference table in our august State Ed building in Albany telling each other what great teachers they were and lamenting how few, if any, measure up to their greatness. That’s probably not so though, but it can’t be that we have an office in Albany staffed with people who believe that they can make great teachers by issuing some rules or regulations. A more appropriate name for this outfit might better be be Office of Great Fools. Such an office in our State Ed department would be understood by every teacher in this state.