Tuesday, January 06, 2015
Accountability Is Only For Schools And Teachers Not For The Government.
Accountability! How many times do we hear the word when it comes to student academic achievement and when too many students fail to achieve the benchmarks, who gets the blame? Right the schools , the teachers, and their unions. If only we can simply fire them at will? Yet the real villains are the government bureaucrats who set unreachable goals, implement questionable policies and programs, and demand that the schools and their teachers be held accountable when they are not met.
During President Bush's tenure, he and Senator Edward Kennedy came up with "No Child Left Behind". (NCLB) The final goal being that 100% of all cohorts be academically proficient by 2014. Oops, we missed that one didn't we? Part of the NCLB was that every school has "highly qualified teachers" in every classroom. However, thanks to Iowa's Democratic Senator, Tom Harkin, that was watered down to allow the two year wonders from "Teach For America" (TFA) to be hired for the classroom with all of a five week training regime. The result was that the schools that struggled with academic achievement found themselves with inexperienced and TFA teachers and suffered the destabilizing effects of high teacher turnover. Worse was both parties were being influenced by the education reform movement that blamed teachers and their unions for the lack of student academic achievement rather than the reduction of education funding, larger class sizes, and ignoring the effects of family and poverty as the main factors of poor student outcomes. As education reformer and ex Chancellor Joel Klein liked o say "poverty is no excuse for student learning". Boy, has he been proved wrong! Were any of them held accountable for the failure to attain the unrealistic and every changing goals? Of course not, just blame it on the teachers and their unions..
The blame the teachers theme continued under Barak Obama as he first blamed the teachers at Central Falls Rhode Island rather than realize that the problem was the large immigrant population from Central America with little formal education and knowing little or no English. while living in poverty and without their parents Worse, he then appointed his basketball playing buddy, Arnie Duncan who almost single handily, destroyed the Chicago Public School System, as Secretary of Education. The very same Arnie Duncan who thought Hurricane Katrina was the best thing that happened to the New Orleans Schools and who can forget his quip on white suburban soccer moms when people complained about the badly flawed Common Core tests. To get the States to implement the high stakes Common Core tests Obama and Duncan bribed the States with federal money called "Race to the top" (Rttt) and threatened to withhold federal funds if states refused the offer.
At the State level Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed a Charter School advocate and education Reformer John B. King as NYSED Commissioner and he tried to force the badly flawed Common Core high stakes tests and wanted it used to evaluate teachers and principals despite the "junk science" assigned to it by all statistical associations. When parents, administrators, and teachers came out in droves to complain about the flawed incrementation, his response was that they represented "special interests". while approving a carefully organized charter school rally to support him in a Manhattan meeting as representing the majority. John King was a lightning rod and ended up having NYSUT issue a "no confidence vote" against him.
The Regents is little better as non-educator Tisch wants to close schools and terminate teachers however, when it comes to her own accountability she blames it on others. Take, for instance, the 22 year old Dr. Ted Morris issue in which the Regents approved him as a CEO of a charter school in Rochester and didn't bother to check his credentials. Here is the list Commissioner Merryl Tisch wants.
Finally, there is the good old Governor, who becomes more unpopular daily. He has decided to veto his own bill that would give teachers a two year stay, until the teacher evaluation system is fixed. He wanted a 10% ineffective rate as the Rttt suggested but ended up with a 1% "ineffective rate". He now wants the entire teacher evaluation system strengthened to achieve his 10% teacher "ineffective rate" and wants more charter schools to appease his hedge fund contributors.
Let's not neglect Mayor Bill de Blasio who ran on lower class sizes, more funding to the public schools, and a change in tune for the teaching profession. None of these have been realized to date. In fact his disappointing Chancellor, Carmen Farina has frozen school budgets in her first year and saw no reduction in class sizes or a more welcoming attitude in the classroom.
Accountability, is for teachers not for our politicians and their failed policies that have resulted in little or no student academic achievement.