SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: Whitney Tilson Blows It Again

Monday, December 27, 2010

Whitney Tilson Blows It Again

Would there be a sound if a tree falls in the forest and Whitney Tilson is under that tree? In fact would anyone care? Every time I read Whitney's emails I can;t help but think of Tommy and "See Me, Feel Me." This caustic desperation for attention that Whitney is so desperately seeking, so desperately lacking.

In fact I hate to say it, in one of today's email from Whitney, I agree with him about something he wrote. Yes, a clock is always correct twice a day, and Ruben Brosbe can use the bathroom my himself.

In The New York Times of December 26, 2010, Sharon Otterman writes that it is far from an exact science of rating teachers using value added assessment. Whitney, in his email goes on to say, "That value-added systems are far from perfect and must be improved, and also need to be used with care when evaluating teachers." Hey, way to go Whitney. All right. I had a smile on my face. Perhaps he found religion. Or perhaps after years of searching interstate rest area rest rooms he came (pardon the pun) across that perfect companion and was in a joyous mood.

Unfortunately reality knocked came a knockin'. I read on, "But we mustn’t let perfection be the enemy of the good," Whitney blabbered. Perfection is the enemy of good? God is perfect, so can we therefore claim that God is the enemy of all that is good? But Whitney blustered more, "Even if the system can only correctly identify the very worst teachers, that’s REALLY (Whitney's emphasis) valuable given the damage such teachers do to children."

Smell that? I smell a contradiction. Whitney says, and I agree, that the value added system is far from perfect. But on the other hand, he is claiming that using this imperfect system it can correctly identify not bad, but the worst teachers.

Now, it is entirely possible that Whitney read only what he wanted to read. Perhaps he missed this from the Times, "The rankings are based on an algorithm that few other than statisticians can understand," so Whitney what enables you to understand these algorithms? Do you have some power we don't know of?

What about the teachers at PS 321 in Park Slope? "In three other classrooms at this highly ranked school, fourth-grade teachers were ranked among the worst in the city at teaching math, even though their students’ average score on the state math exam was close to four, the highest score." So are these the worst teachers? You yourself just said that imperfection in VAA is OK as long has it identified the worst teachers. Well these three teachers were identified as the worst. Do you think they should be terminated.

I'm not going to go into why VAA is wrong. I have done it enough in this blog to do so. The only other analogy I can think of right now is my opposition to capital punishment. I have many reasons, but one of them is as long as there can be one iota of a chance that the wrong person will be put to death, that is one person too many. Our justice system no matter how highly we think of it is imperfect. The same with VAA. It is imperfect, and as long as there can be one iota of a chance that a teacher will be wrongly judged or terminated, that is one teacher too many.


Anonymous said...

This absolutely disgusts me. The part I would like to emphasize that caught my eye was "as long as there can be one iota of a chance that a teacher will be will be wrongly judged or terminated, that is 1 teacher too many."

There will be a lot more write ups, a lot more teacher bashing by administrators and a lot more terminations which makes me sick to my stomach. There could be a lot of misery inflicted on teachers for the next 3 years.

It happened to me. My teaching style was too progressive and misunderstood by the administrator. The DOE rating sheet is also flawed and does not hold all teachers to a specific caliber.

A Teacher In The Bronx said...

So you disagree with what I wrote, or you agree with it?

Bill Grundfest said...

your post is a great example of why parents are so eager these days to go to war with the teachers unions - it shows clearly, that it's all about the grownups - saving jobs, power and money. As a parent I don;t give a rats behind about that crap. I care about the kids. You guys could try that. In the real world - the one that parents live in - people who don't get results get fired, not tenure. Tenure is a sad joke, seniority is age discrimination and it is laughable to equate firing a teacher with capital punishment - except that you mean it. So, no, not laughable. There's a war on: Teachers UNIONS (not teachers) VS Parents/Kids. We didn't start it, you guys did. But we've joined the battle, and as you can see from laws like Parent Triggers, we have, finally begun to win. Time for you guys to lead the reform, follow us "De-formers" or get outta the way. Things are going to change, Big time. And quick.

Ms. Tsouris said...

Grundfest, you need to see the forest through the trees. We DO care about the kids; however, we did not take vows of poverty, and decent working conditions means decent and appropriate learning conditions. Moreover, you couch your discussion in terms of "war". This is the problem with this country. You are part of that problem. Conflict and disagreement should invoke discussion and compromise, not "war" and, by definition, violence. Seniority is AGE DISCRIMINATION? This is a civil service job, not one of Bloomberg's no show "contract" jobs. Seniority is part of our contract, along with tenure, which is a job protection, not a "sad joke". I am shocked that you are so unsupportive of teachers as a parent. By the way, I am a teacher and a parent, all within the NYC limits. Seniority and tenure have protected me for most of the past 34 years. The union, by the way, is funded with dues from TEACHERS. The union's first job is to protect teachers' jobs; of course, the teachers care about the kids. You need to open your eyes and not buy into this "war on unions". You bought the BS that Gates, Rhee, Obama, Klein, and now Black are spouting.