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Old 07-07-2008, 09:06 PM   #1
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The Education Isse - 2008 Campaign

Since there seems to be sooooooo many issues I thought I would take Deeps article:

[Q]John McCain
From Testing to Merit Pay, McCain Advisers Lays Out His Education Thinking
By Maria Glod
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) hasn't said much about how to fix America's schools. But an adviser yesterday said the presumptive Republican presidential nominee supports using federal dollars for teacher merit pay and wants to change the No Child Left Behind law championed by President Bush.[/Q]

I find merit pay to be a sucky way to run a school. Students are not cars or products that can be produced. Teaching is not a company and while we can learn by using data to inform instruction, I do not believe that merit pay for student performance can be done equitably making it a more effective system.

[Q]Lisa Graham Keegan, former Arizona superintendent of public instruction and a McCain education policy adviser, said McCain wants annual testing to stay, and that schools would continue to be required to report those scores. But she said he wants educators to have more say in how to fix struggling schools.[/Q]

That is because, THEY HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO IMPROVE SCHOOLS. See, this is what cracks me up. NCLB has improved schools. But you can NEVER achieve 100% which is what the law says myst happen by 2014. ALL children will be proficient in Reading and Math by 2014. Disabilities ect matter not. This will not ever happen. The fact is, there is a point at which schools cannot improve. We are not making barbells, we are working with students, who leave us coming from vastly different backgrounds, and that, ultimately is why the governement is "wink wink" not able to take over schools, and fix them. THEY HAVE NO ANSWERS.

[Q]"The federal government cannot position itself continually as the bully in this," Keegan told a group of reporters today at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a nonprofit involved in education reform. "No more will we say that's what 50 states are going to do, because he doesn't believe that's our best hope for improvement."

Under the law Bush signed in 2002, schools that don't meet test score goals for two consecutive years must allow students to transfer to higher-performing schools. Schools that fall short for three years must offer private tutoring to children from low-income families. More sanctions follow.[/Q]

That is because this was designed to get students to transfer to PRIVATE schools. I would suggest that everyone watches the current HBO special about NCLB.

[Q]McCain envisions a system in which students have access to tutoring and choice long before their school is labeled as failing, Keegan said. States also could pitch innovative reforms.[/Q]

Guess what, most schools are doing this.

[Q]As for the law's key goal of having all students proficient in reading and math by 2014, Keegan said it is not clear whether it would change. But, she added, "That date is something that everybody's nudging and winking about."[/Q]

They are wink winking because they have NO ANSWERS, only threats.

[Q]Bush promoted school reform often in his 2000 campaign, but McCain has not stressed the issue. Keegan said to stay tuned. "The dialogue about the nature of that plan is one that the senator wants to have himself, and he wants to have it when he thinks it will get best heard and he thinks that's around back-to-school time." [/Q]

NCLB has its merits. The 2014 thing is bullshit. They need to figure out where a reasonable threshold is for improvement. THe legislation is meaningless in inner city schools.


Here is the article:O)

http://blog.washingtonpost.com/the-t..._pay_mcca.html
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Old 07-07-2008, 09:44 PM   #2
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oh don't even get me started on these issues....

well ok I will.

Merit based pay is going down a slippery slippery tension filled pressured slope. Sure thee may be some old school teachers who are just coasting till retirement, but they are far and few inbetween.
All the teachers I know bust their asses off to teach their students. You think of a billion different ways to teach them the curriculum you are supposed to cover. You try and make it informative and fun, and cross curriculum ideas and do cooking so kids learn to write procedures and run mini olympics but the kids do all the timing and measuring and collating of results to get more meaning and understanding out of it (this is what im doing next term!). But at the end of the day, when you've explained how to spell these words, or what a palindrome is, or how to subtract numbers with trading, some kids don't get it. Some never will.

Although we have students 7 hours a day, their parents have them for longer. I set homework every week, and try to make it as collaborative with their parents as I can. Half the students don't do it, and the parents don't care. Notes go home about ti and I get excuses like 'we were busy' 'i didn't know what to do' 'its your job not mine' < --- and sadly, thats what a lot of parents think. Ship the kids off to school and do nothing else. The DIFFERENCE between the children who's parents take an active role in education, from just checking what they're doing at school, to you know, reading with them and doing extra stuff at home, is amazing.
And this is what merit based pay wouldn't work, unless parents get paid for how well their children are doing at school as well. Which would never happen.

Another point we've been taking about at school, because we have year test scores as well, its how straight and narrow they are. How they are badly designed. For example in writing, the students get 5 minutes to read some ideas for stories, then 5 minutues to plan and half an hour to write. The are expected to have a myriad of grammar, and punctuation and strategies within this writing piece, but get only half an hour? Most of my kids barely finished on page, and they're getting judged on that, which in turn will lower the test scores and have my whole class summed up in one half an hour writing test. Its not the best way to go about it, and i'm actually stunned that schools are labelled 'failure' schools if their test scores don't match up. What about all i've said above with the parents not supporting their kids. For example, I have a student in my class (Year 5) who cannot read the whole alphabet, and can spell his name and thats about it. This comes from attending roughly one third of every year at school and the rest, out bush, or somewhere. Now measures are being brought in for attendance, but its too late for him, he will need full time tutor support to get anywhere near where he should be (fingers crossed I'll get someone as I put in the paperwork 5 months ago, I should get an answer soon! another bureaucratic bullshit thing)

And the last point I will make in this long winded argument is this. I strongly believe in Gardner's Multiple Intelligences, in that people learn in different ways and therefore can struggle learning in the more traditional numerical/linguistic ways. So how can we pidgeon hole students into a round hole where they have no chance to show any individualism, or knowledge of their own, but are expected to tow the line and know this and this or you're labeled a failure and students have to live with that? 2014 is just putting pressure on teachers and students, who don't need it in the first place.
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Old 07-07-2008, 09:59 PM   #3
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Old 07-07-2008, 10:32 PM   #4
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i look forward to it
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Old 07-07-2008, 11:24 PM   #5
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Dread,
everything you said = WORD.
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Old 07-08-2008, 12:16 AM   #6
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I thought both Amy and Dread had some excellent insights into why merit pay won't work. I agree with everything they said.

I think merit pay is a good idea in theory but completely unworkable in practice. At most, it could be used by an indvidual school making subjective decisions about which teacher's "merit" merit pay. Which of course would never fly in the public school setting. (You might be able to get away with it in a private school).

I tend to feel that our entire education system has some basic flaws, but I also feel that at least at this point, there's not much we can really do to fix those flaws and still hold to our commitment to providing an education for every child in the country.

As for improving the quality of teachers, merit pay isn't the answer. To increase teacher quality we need to raise the bar for what it takes to become a teacher in the first place, and renumerate teachers in accordance with the level of time and effort it would take to become a teacher. One of the biggest fallacies about teaching is that it is "easy" work that "anybody" can do (and I know my fellow teachers in this forum know that teaching is anything but "easy"). Part of what contributes to that fallacy is the fact that many of our teacher training programs ARE "easy", that "anybody" can complete. There's a disconnect between what it takes to carry the title of teacher and what it takes to actually BE an effective teacher.

Of course, if we were more selective in who becomes a teacher--if it were like medical school, where people considered it a real challenge to get through--we'd have a serious teacher shortage because already we can't get enough teachers. I think it is good that every child in America has access to an education, but the logistics of doing it and doing it well are daunting.
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Old 07-08-2008, 10:13 AM   #7
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Dread,
everything you said = WORD.
i am marking this day on my calendar......:O)
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Old 07-08-2008, 10:17 AM   #8
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As for improving the quality of teachers, merit pay isn't the answer. To increase teacher quality we need to raise the bar for what it takes to become a teacher in the first place, and renumerate teachers in accordance with the level of time and effort it would take to become a teacher. One of the biggest fallacies about teaching is that it is "easy" work that "anybody" can do (and I know my fellow teachers in this forum know that teaching is anything but "easy"). Part of what contributes to that fallacy is the fact that many of our teacher training programs ARE "easy", that "anybody" can complete. There's a disconnect between what it takes to carry the title of teacher and what it takes to actually BE an effective teacher.

Of course, if we were more selective in who becomes a teacher--if it were like medical school, where people considered it a real challenge to get through--we'd have a serious teacher shortage because already we can't get enough teachers. I think it is good that every child in America has access to an education, but the logistics of doing it and doing it well are daunting.
Teaching is hard work. Liking kids is not enough of a qualification. Looking at it as a job where there is so much time off is not a qualification.

[Q]Rhee to Fire 250 Teachers Who Missed Certification Date

By V. Dion Haynes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 4, 2008; Page B04

D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee announced yesterday that she plans to fire 250 teachers and 500 teacher's aides who were unable to meet a June 30 deadline to obtain certification.

The school system traditionally has had a large number of uncertified teachers and teacher's aides, and for years had struggled to meet requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law that all educators have a credential. In late 2005, the union representing aides said about half its 700 members were uncertified. About that same time, then-Superintendent Clifford B. Janey said that about 1,100 teachers, or 25 percent of the workforce, were not certified.

At the time, Janey threatened to fire them by June 2005, but he extended the deadline by a year because the school system was unable to replace so many educators at once. Rhee, who also extended the deadline a year after starting in June 2007, was firm in dismissing any worker who missed the deadline.


By firing the 750 educators, she said, the school system now is in compliance with the law. Rhee's spokeswoman said the firings are not expected to disrupt the upcoming school year because none of the educators were assigned to classrooms since they were not expected to make the deadline.

"We have thousands of highly qualified, dedicated teachers and paraprofessionals serving DCPS students everyday," Rhee said in a statement. "Unfortunately, complying with federal law is not optional and we thank those DCPS employees who have worked diligently to meet the requirements."

The teachers are required to have at least a bachelor's degree in the subject they teach and to pass a test demonstrating their knowledge in that area. Teacher's aides are required to have a high school diploma or associate's degree, and pass an exam.

Leaders from the teachers and teacher's aides unions said they were opposed to the firings. "There are some very good teachers who are included in this group, and students are going to be without their services," said George Parker, president of the Washington Teachers' Union.

The school system will send termination letters to the 750 educators beginning Monday, schools spokeswoman Jennifer Calloway said.[/Q]

How the hell are they going to find 250 teachers who want to work in the city?

Please note the BOLD. The union is protecting people who let their certification lapse. That is REDICULOUS. Teachers have plenty of time to make sure their certification does not lapse. Other professions have requirements that must be met. This infuriates me.
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Old 07-08-2008, 10:56 AM   #9
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I'm a little confused - so to be certified all you need is a BEd degree and some kind of content exam? Why wouldn't they all be certified?? This doesn't sound onerous to me at all.

Like anybody would allow lawyers to practice if they just don't bother taking the bar?

My Mom and brother are both teachers and they are exceptional. The one thing that has always bothered me is that I'm not aware of a single other profession that seems to be pretty much everybody's back up. All my friends who couldn't get into grad school or professional programs basically went to teacher's college. Not because they wanted to be teachers but because they thought it was something to do and hey, they'd get jobs. I'm not sure how this can be fixed/addressed but my brother has long said that he felt the profession has little respect out in society because everybody knows how easy it is to get the degree/certification.
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Old 07-08-2008, 01:06 PM   #10
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I'm a little confused - so to be certified all you need is a BEd degree and some kind of content exam? Why wouldn't they all be certified?? This doesn't sound onerous to me at all.

Like anybody would allow lawyers to practice if they just don't bother taking the bar?

My Mom and brother are both teachers and they are exceptional. The one thing that has always bothered me is that I'm not aware of a single other profession that seems to be pretty much everybody's back up. All my friends who couldn't get into grad school or professional programs basically went to teacher's college. Not because they wanted to be teachers but because they thought it was something to do and hey, they'd get jobs. I'm not sure how this can be fixed/addressed but my brother has long said that he felt the profession has little respect out in society because everybody knows how easy it is to get the degree/certification.
I am betting the article either has it wrong, or due to the fact that it is difficult to bring in teachers into the area, the standards are lower.

Teachers in MA - Have to Double Major as an undergrad, pass the teacher's exam, and are required by law to get their MA within five years of employment.

Each state has their own regulations - so it does vary.

I laugh, because I was at a hiring fair, and a lawyer there with his daughter says, I am hoping to retire from law and teach. My response, maybe when I am done I will just pick up the law.

Teaching is treated not as a profession, but as something fun to do when the real work is done or the real goal is not attained.
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Old 07-08-2008, 01:15 PM   #11
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I laugh, because I was at a hiring fair, and a lawyer there with his daughter says, I am hoping to retire from law and teach. My response, maybe when I am done I will just pick up the law.

Teaching is treated not as a profession, but as something fun to do when the real work is done or the real goal is not attained.


out of curiosity, did he mean go teach english or history in a public high school, or was he imagining some kind of adjunct professorship perhaps in a law school where you teach 2 classes a semester?

while i agree with much of what has been said, i think another problem that plagues teaching in general -- based upon some real experience -- is that teachers themselves tend to have a big chip on their shoulders. no one respects us, no one pays us, i have to the be parent and the teacher, parents fight us or don't care, etc. and while much of this is justified, there's a semi-poisonous atmosphere that i felt in the few staff rooms i've frequented. it struck me as a profession that's quite down on itself, and it seems to inculcate a feeling of being a profession under assault by ... well, everyone.

it's for this reason, and the feeling that after 5 years of teaching that i'd be bored and disinterested, that i decided not to teach. and i know many people who enter teaching -- be it my brother on the south side of Chicago or one of my best friends in the Bronx -- who show up with the best of intentions, and have them beaten out. and they often find something else to do. both my brother and my friend plan to continue working in education, but being in the classroom does not interest them any longer.
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Old 07-08-2008, 01:27 PM   #12
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No, the context of the conversation was how easy a retirement it would be working part of the year and having fun with kids.

The current HBO special that is running, showed a second year teacher, quit in mid-year. SAD.
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Old 07-08-2008, 01:36 PM   #13
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No, the context of the conversation was how easy a retirement it would be working part of the year and having fun with kids.
There are lawyers I know who bill between 2500 and 3000 hours per year. Meaning they worked about 4000 hrs per year. From their POV, teaching does sound like a vacation.

That said, I'd rather eat and sleep at the firm than have to deal with teenage hoodlums in a classroom on a daily basis.
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Old 07-08-2008, 01:54 PM   #14
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the other thing i will say about teaching is that it can be very rewarding work, and you can feel as if you're actually making a difference in people's lives.

i spend my waking hours making fairly mindless entertainment that's supposed to fill the gaps between the commercials and retain a viewer's interest so that the network can charge evermore dollars for ad time and thus increase it's bottom line.

of course i get something out of this (and more than a paycheck), but when i look at the big picture, it does depress me a bit.

by contrast, when i taught, and *especially* when i was coaching various swim teams, there's such a clear path between your efforts and the beneficiaries of your efforts, that it can be intoxicating. i certainly make way more money than i would if i was teaching, but there are other rewards to teaching that aren't reflected in the paycheck. there are times when i'm in the middle of a very stressful shoot and i do think to myself, "dammit, that's it, i'm quitting and going back to school and getting a master's and then either teaching high school english or kindergarten."

but i don't think that's because i view teaching as "easier," per se, but because it seems to run by a different set of values than most of the rest of the working world.

which is why, to round out this circle, i don't see merit pay being any sort of an answer to improve student performance.
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Old 07-08-2008, 02:39 PM   #15
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The idea of merit based pay makes me want to weep. Not figuratively speaking weep, but honest-to-god, lump in throat, eyes welling up, weep. I think the hostility between teachers it would cause would be detrimental to the school. What is this pay based on? NCLB scores? Every time I see this brought up it's an abstract, vague idea. What about socio-economically disadvantaged schools?

I have been working on my AP European History curriculum all morning and decided to take a break and then I read this! Serves me right for getting on the internet when I should be finishing my Reformation lessons.

My department took on 5 student teachers last semester. (that's just the social studies department folks) My student teacher was out of this world good. Not because she knew everything there was to know about World Civ but because she had command of my classroom from the first minute she took over. I was amazed. Yes, teachers must be good story-tellers and "like kids," (even though I am famous for telling my classes I don't like kids. haha) but there are other intangibles that aren't taken into consideration when deciding on a major. Some of the other student teachers in my department fell into the "this will be fun and easy and I'll get to coach!! " category. No wonder why people are leaving the profession in droves.
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