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

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Chicago Teachers and Support Staff: Lots of Thank Yous and a Couple of Warnings

First, some thank yous.  
  1. Thank you for the exercising the courage, care, and conviction that have been banished by the national union leadership of the NEA and AFT. 
  2. Thank you for reminding us what leadership looks like.
  3. Thank you for re-focusing the teacher union movement on the social justice mission for children, which is our calling, our mission, and the fire we carry.
  4. Thank you for demanding respect, rather than cowering and cutting deals to assuage corporate hacks stuck in a Reagan time warp.
  5. Thank you for your energy, your pluck, your pride, your determination that makes us all proud again to claim the title of teacher.
  6. Thank you for explaining the effects on children of teacher evaluation based on test scores, class size extremes, environmental needs of children, resource shortages, personnel cuts, school closures, corporate charter schools.
  7. Thank you for doing what so many have feared to do and must be done.  
  8. Thank you for your model of impassioned professionalism.
  9. Thank you for making us look up again, rather than down.
Now, for some warnings.
  • Vote NO on any contract that contains ANY percentage of teacher evaluations based on value-added modeling (VAM) or test scores.  It is most destructive of teacher-child relations, and it is an unscientific, unsupportable, and anti-teacher devise to control what happens in the classroom and to weed out more expensive and experienced teachers.  Any system that contains this element will demand observations that are scored on a rubric that is designed to laser focus on raising test scores.  So if it 90 percent or 10 percent of the evaluation count, teacher evaluation based on test scores or VAM is a non-starter.
  • Vote NO if any contract contains an explicit or implicit statement of support for the Common Core State [sic] Standards, which are, in fact, a national corporate plan to establish content, teaching methods, and assessments.  Most importantly, Common Core is the testing delivery system for the post-NCLB era, and the rationale for the continuing spread of corporate charter schools.  Repudiate Common Core, for it is the biggest threat to learning, knowledge diversity, teacher autonomy, and a school environment not based on testing.

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