Monday, January 2, 2012

Really Ineffective?

Last November, Wisconsin’s DPI, released the rough draft of its federally mandated teacher evaluation system, titled Wisconsin Framework for Educator Effectiveness. This pending program falls in line with the nation-wide false presumption that teacher ineffectiveness among public school teachers is widespread.

Part of me fears that this program is further MBA-thinking infiltrating education. In the wrong hands, I worry an effectiveness plan could disrupt our collaborative public school culture with the competitive “carrot and stick” mentality prevalent in the business world. Some reformers might recklessly tie the program’s data to unproven ideas like teacher merit pay. I also worry that the accountability system tied to the educator effectiveness program will sap public school monies and energy that could be better spent directly on teacher and curriculum development.

The final product is surely to be billed as another new and revolutionary reform of a presumably failing public school system. A teacher effectiveness overhaul assumes that something is drastically wrong in teacher effectiveness and, therefore, teachers must be held more accountable for student learning and teacher development.

I contend that these presumptions are false. I sometimes feel I stand on an island with few others, when I feel satisfied with my teaching development and the education my children have received in the SDJ. Ironically, without a federally mandated teacher evaluation system in place, I know I have grown as a teacher and have seen how my youngest child is taught differently (and possibly more effectively) than my oldest child. Certainly, I could always do a little better in developing my craft and hope for a bit more for my own kids’ education—but I just do not see the need for an overhaul of a system that already promotes teacher and curriculum development.

Despite my apparent angst, I have actually resigned myself to the tsunami of reform initiatives headed our way. To be fair, the DPI design process for has been very democratic, transparent, and involved many from the public school community—including WEAC. Putting my fears aside, I hope this will be yet another well-meaning school reform wave I will ride out safely.

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