Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Here Comes Teacher Cottontail, Creeping Down the Funding Trail

Mr. Duncan said he intended to reward school districts, charter schools and nonprofit organizations that had demonstrated success at raising student achievement — “islands of excellence,” he called them. Programs that tie teacher pay to classroom performance will most likely receive money, as will other approaches intended to raise teacher quality, including training efforts that pair novice instructors with veteran mentors, and after-school and weekend tutoring programs.--NYT, 2.17.09
Public school teachers by nature are a distrustful lot. We're the bunny rabbits in the workplace forest, convinced everything is a plot against us. So when most teachers read the comments of new (and newly financially empowered) U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, little bunny tails start twitching and eyes start darting frantically.

"Tie teacher pay to classroom performance"!!!!

"Demonstrated success at raising student achievement"!!!!

Quick, to the inadequately funded hole in the ground! Run for your public educator lives!!!!!

But teachers might do well to welcome their new, financially flush, federal overlords. Yes, "classroom performance" is a scary concept no one seems to agree on how to quantify. Yeah, "demonstrated success" is in the eye, and calculator, of the statistically adept. But:
  1. The U.S. Department of Education budget has just been more or less doubled;
  2. Everyone, even the most paranoid bunny rabbit teacher, acknowledges things are awful right now;
  3. Really awful;
  4. Either we find the best way to use the new money, our way, with our definitions of "classroom performance" and "demonstrated success", or some evil bureaucrat and/or vulture private "classroom performance" business dictates those definitions ala NCLB: The Bush Years.
Get out of the hole, bunny rabbit. Let's go grab some lettuce.

1 comment:

michelle meaders said...

I can see this leading to several things:

Smaller schools so the scores of subgroups will be too small to include and drag down the school.

Sending problem kids somewhere else so they don't affect the school's results.

Even more teachers avoiding schools with kids who are less likely to succeed.

Haven't studies shown that school governance doesn't matter, but class size does? And the legislature is about to make that worse if they can't get a sensible tax increase through.

None of this came up in the recent school board election, did it?