A teacher union leader spends the last week of a school year limping to the finish line. By this time of the year everyone’s nerves are completely frayed to the point of short circuiting their ability to think straight. If we could somehow have the lay public experience the psychic stress of a year in the best of our public schools, we could no only end the attacks on us but also stifle the political hacks and their well-heeled cronies who are constantly ginning up the media carpet bombing we have been receiving.
This has been a year of unending attacks on teachers and other public employees. After passing a completely idiotic law linking student test scores to the evaluation of their teachers, the next part of the assault was to be the publication of the teachers’ evaluations in the press. Mayor Michael Bloomberg was salivating at the thought of shaming thousands of of New York City’s teachers. That attack has been blunted somewhat by passage of a new law limiting access to teachers’ annual performance review (APPR) scores to the parents of the children they teach. While this will relieve the anxiety that teachers have experienced at the thought of being publicly shamed in the mass media, the new law does nothing to control what parents do with this information.
In upper middle class communities like ours, teacher reputations have been the subject of conversation forever. The suburbs lend themselves to these high level, consequential discussions. Now, I fear, we can look forward to them being updated with seriously flawed data lending an authority to statements about teachers’ abilities. Children will hear these statements. Who knows what they will make of them. Children talk about school and their teachers to one another all the time. I can hear some of them now. “My teacher is a 91 and yours is just an 80. My dad’s car costs more than yours too.” Then there is Facebook….
Don’t tune me out for the summer. I’ll be posting, if somewhat less frequently, trying to make sense of the senseless world of public education.