SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: Not More of this Value Added Assessment ****!!!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Not More of this Value Added Assessment ****!!!

Sad news today. In an unanimous edict, the state appeals court ruled that the city can turn over Teacher Data Reports of teachers in grades 4-8 to the media. Rupert Murdoch and the New York Post are said to be quite overwhelmed with joy right now.

So it is not enough that teachers as a whole, as a group are being disparaged continuously by the press further sinking the degree in which this once proud profession was held, not they must go after individual teachers. Worse, teachers will be targeted, outed, and shamed using an unreliable method of assessment.

If and when Uncle Mike runs for a 4th term or decides to throw his hat in the ring for God, just what would he say when polls show him trailing and the margin of error is 35%? Would he not dismiss the polling data? Would he not tell us pay no attention to the poll, for polls are notoriously skewed and incorrect? Yes, this person and his sock puppet Dennis Walcott are having the New York media do its dirty work and file FOILs on the city's behalf for no other reason to chip away another brick, another layer in one of the most endearing professions there are. Teaching children.

Imagine, you are a teacher. Not only have you had an exemplary career, but in addition to never receiving an unsatisfactory rating, you have had former students return year after year to visit you, to thank you for being their teacher, to tell you that you have made a difference in their life. That they would not be what they are today but for you. Then some peon of a reporter for the New York Post, a reporter unable of critical thinking skills, a reporter that does as his editors command him to, labels you a ineffective teacher due some algorithm that the reporter doesn't and will never understand.

What is this teacher to do? What course of action does this teacher, or any teacher take? Can you measure the time a teacher has spent on their own working and preparing? Can you measure the kindness, the caring, the love this teacher this teacher has exhibited all throughout their career?

How do you measure a smile a teacher gives to a student, a smile that the teacher will not remember, but years later that student will remember when faced against adversity? How do you measure something as simple as a pat on the back when a student is sad or needs some encouragement and that student remembers and uses as a model when they are a parent?

Teachers and education are more than numbers, more than some hack with a bunch of numbers or worse, some business person trying to tie education to a business model. You can't! Education is not a business, never will be a business. You can't fit the peg of education into the hole of business.

But maybe it is time we fight back. Maybe it is time to turn the tables? Should we, and I mean our union, or even ourselves as teachers, file FOILs to obtain the arrest records, fitness records, and discipline records of NYPD officers? What about the records of the effectiveness of FDNY firefighters and paramedics? New York City runs many hospitals. Let's find out how many patients have died on each doctor. How many doctors have successfully cured a disease?

I mentioned this in an email to a friend. The reply was, and I partly agree, is that we should not go after others. But, just filing a FOIL, just getting the process going will not only show we are serious, but will unlayer the hypocrisy of media, Uncle Mike, and Sock Puppet Dennis.

The UFT really needs to come through on this. I would hate to see what happened in Los Angeles, we all would hate to see it. However, sadly I think it will happen.


Deven Black (@devenkblack) said...

The answer is not in attacking the members of other unions but in doing what we do best, teaching. If we are the great teachers we claim to be, it is within our abilities to teach the public about the fallacies of data, about the venalities of the media, and middle class-busting motives of the mayor and his acolytes.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Say you taught in a hard to staff, gang infested, urban school. Your students are chronically absent, abused, neglected, etc. Your data report isn't so great even though you do make a huge difference in your students' lives. The kids that are motivated have done well but it wont reflect in your report. Your life was threatened by a student and you've had enough. You're lucky enough to get an interview in a quiet, suburban school.

Thanks to the crappy report that you had no control over, that could never measure the good you did, you can kiss that job goodbye and look forward to more threats and misery for the remainder of your career.

I think the impact of these value added reports could be even more serious than we know.

Pete Zucker said...

Deven, I agree with you. But a shot across the bow, a shot to show we are serious wouldn't do any harm. File a FOIL against FDNY and NYPD and let's see how fast Uncle Mike shoots it down.