"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tenn. Teachers: Don't Quit--Occupy Your Schools and Force Huffman Out

High-Stakes Testing's Wizard, Bill Sanders, recently returned to Nashville from his cushy offices on the cushy SAS campus in NC to oversee the creation of a new and irredeemably-flawed teacher evaluation scheme based on student test scores and observations aimed to reward penal teaching methods.  Hey--$500,000,000 in Gates-designed RTTT dough is a big lure.  Welcome home, Bill!

While trying to strike before the parents and teachers figure out what the hell is going on, the Oligarchs' pol-puppets Haslam/Bredesen, Bill Sanders, and a dependable band of proto-fascist henchmen led by former TFA cult leader, Kevin Huffman, are beside themselves with reckless glee as they go about crafting an eval scheme that will chase away the best TN teachers, while making those who remain kowtow to the total compliance chain gang methods that KIPP and KIPP imitators have made infamous.   Those teachers who refuse the new standards of pedagogic oppression and social control will find themselves with evaluations that send them packing, like it or not.

Tenure will protect teachers, you say?  Forget it:  after two years of bad evals based on test scores and observations that are looking for iron-fisted total compliance teaching to the test, any tenured teacher goes back to probationary status, and then whammo!

 Enter an endless stream of alt cert and TFA Ivy League white girls to take on the white man's burden in the segregated containment schools of Nashville, Memphis, and Knoxville.  And for the rural poor there is a new virtual school system designed to make Haslam's and Bredesen's cronies rich while offering TN's rural poor a worthless diploma or GED.

You know it's getting bad when columnists and reporters for the corporate media start complaining:
. . . .Tennessee agreed to a new form of teacher evaluations more than a year ago as part of its drive for federal Race to the Top funds. The state was awarded $501 million and, as a result, teachers are being evaluated for the first time based on student achievement scores and four classroom visits by an administrator or certified evaluator.

But only three months into the school year, principals, teachers and local school boards are telling state legislators that the evaluations are taking too much time for administrators and causing too much stress on teachers.

“It’s not right, it’s not working,” said state Rep. Rick Womick, R-Murfreesboro, “so we’re trying to change that.” . . .

 Yeah, well, I would expect the TN Teabagger General Assembly to do what they always do, thus substituting expediency and ideology for pragmatic intelligence.  These clowns will probably vote to drop the classroom visits and go "All In" with the test scores. 

And here is a commentary by regular columnist, Gail Kerr, in the Tennessean:
Tennessee’s new teacher evaluation system needs re-evaluating.

If it were just a few grousers weighing in, negative reviews would be easy to shrug off — the new system is designed, after all, to root out bad teachers who have been allowed to continue year after year. But teachers are complaining in droves, many of them in tears, that the new system is “overwhelming” them with paperwork that is distracting them from actually teaching students. Worse, teachers are quitting over it.

“Teachers want a tool to assist them to be a better teacher, yet the tool currently in place is inadequate for the job,” weighed in Stephen Henry, president of the Metro teachers union. “It is forcing teachers to focus on having a perfect ‘plan’ rather than focus on the needs of students.”

Henry made his comments during an online chat with Tennessean education reporter Julie Hubbard and Jill Pittman, principal at J. T. Moore Middle School. You can read it at www.tennessean.com/live — click on “ask the educators.”
The new system was put in place as part of Tennessee’s federally funded Race to the Top schools program. Teachers are evaluated in the classroom multiple times a year, must have extensive and specific lesson plans, and meet a lengthy checklist of criteria. Their students’ test scores also are part of the equation.

Teachers should be evaluated. Most businesses and agencies have some form of annual performance review, designed to reward meritorious performance and punish those falling down on the job. By its nature, change this massive is going to meet resistance.

But when this level of teacher complaints are heard, and teachers are retiring or leaving school systems because of it, the new evaluations need another look. During the online chat, teachers had quite specific complaints:

Teacher of year gets a 2

The scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being exceptional. But numerous principals have made it clear to their teachers that no one will be ranked a 4 or 5. One teacher said she is spending between nine and 15 hours every weekend writing lesson plans. Another complained that the evaluators are sending contradictory messages. A woman named teacher of the year at her school last year was given a 2 this year. Teachers are doing lesson plans instead of grading papers after school.

“I just met with a teacher whose unit plan has been shared at district meetings as a model lesson,” Henry said, yet the teacher “received a 2 by her principal.”

He said another teacher was given a 1 because she didn’t know all her students’ names. It was only the third day of school. A teacher was marked down for not volunteering to attend ballgames. One was given a lower score for wearing jeans to work.

Pittman defended the system: “I agree that the evaluation system should benefit all involved. I believe that our new system can do that and will do that.” This, she said, is a “period of adjustment.”

The new evaluation system looked great on paper. But it is showing signs of dysfunction. Adjustments are needed, indeed.

Gail Kerr’s column runs on Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays. She can be reached at 615-259-8085 or gkerr@tennessean.com.
 Take this opportunity, Tennessee teachers. Just say no, hell no, to this ultimate intrusion.  Don't quit: OCCUPY your schools, and take over Huffman's office.  Send the scoundrels packing.  OPT OUT of THE INSANITY!!!  DUMP THE DATABASE.


  1. Anonymous12:27 PM

    when are teachers going to say enough is enough and take over the schools and do what we are taught to do teach.

  2. Anonymous3:44 AM

    Really bright. A good example that teachers must not be doing their job.
    "are beside themselves with reckless glee as they go about crafting an eval scheme that will chase away the best TN teachers,"

    It's spelled evil not "eval"

  3. Anonymous8:30 PM

    Never... we are leaving... slowly... but surely... with broken spirits and hearts.