Thursday, September 13, 2012

Teaching to the Test

Have you been following the teacher's strike in Chicago?  If not, or you're not sure what the heck is going on, I found an article that spells it out pretty clearly.  I come from a proud Union family (my dad was in UAW and my sister is in the Teachers Union in California), so I'm on the side of the teacher's union.  Some politicians are doing a good job of fooling the public into thinking you're either on the irrational, money-grubbing side of the teachers, or, you're for "the kids".  I applaud their effort, as I do that of all evil geniuses, but it's utter BS.  When teachers (don't forget that means, literally, the people who are educating the next generation) benefit, so do students.

I'm not surprised to hear Mitt Romney talking shit about unions, but what's up with Democratic Mayor Rohm Emanuel?  Frankly, I'm utterly SHOCKED that it's even socially acceptable to bash unions.  Do people not REMEMBER what it was like before unions?  Weakening, or, heaven forfend, eliminating unions would take us back over a hundred years of progress.

Apparently the sticking point now in negotiations are regarding tying teacher evaluations to student performances.  This seems like a no-brainer to me, but the only way it works is if you have a standardized test for the student, and if the teacher's performance is based on that test, then the teacher is going to end up Teaching to the Test.  I defy you to find an educator that thinks this is a good idea.  Personally, I hate standardized tests, I think we should eliminate them completely (and, HOT TIP, we could do that pretty easily if all parents would just follow my simple advice and not allow your kid to take them.  They're not mandatory.)   There are all sorts of reasons you could have the best teacher in the world, but she'll have a hard time overcoming any social issues that may effect her district, like poverty, students for whom English is not a first language, or even weather, not to mention aspects that are common in impoverished areas like abuse, parental uninvolvement and nutrition.  Imagine if your performance review was influenced by whether your co-workers had a healthy diet!

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