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Education decimation: Thank You, Florida!
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Darqcyde



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 1:02 am    Post subject: Education decimation: Thank You, Florida! Reply with quote

So a last week a bill passed through the Florida Legislature whereby half of a teacher's pay will be based upon test scores:

Florida legislators approve teacher pay bill

http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/04/09/1570452/clash-in-class-teachers-fret-over.html

BY HANNAH SAMPSON Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau
Posted on Fri, Apr. 09, 2010

Quote:
The outcome was clear going in, but lawmakers in the state House of Representatives still debated a controversial teacher pay bill until nearly 2:30 a.m. Friday.

After more than nine hours, they voted.

Ultimately, the vote was 64 for and 55 against the measure, which would overhaul the way teachers are evaluated, compensated and fired in Florida.

Eleven Republicans joined Democrats in voting no.

The bill's next stop: the desk of Gov. Charlie Crist. And what he does with it is anyone's guess.

``There are things about it that I like and things about it that give me some concern,'' the governor said Thursday. ``I just want to weigh it out and continue to listen.''

That's a long way from his initial strong support of the bill, leaving opponents of the proposed law optimistic.

``Gov. Crist holds the power to do what's right for students and teachers of Florida,'' said United Teachers of Dade President Karen Aronowitz. ``When he vetoes this bill, he stands up not only for the well being of teachers, but for the stability of local communities.''

The measure passed the Senate last month in a 21-17 vote. Republican leaders pushed the bill through the House with no amendments to send it straight to Crist. Although legislators debated the pros and cons of the bill into the wee hours of Friday morning, the only question about the outcome was what time everyone would go home. Enough Republican votes were locked by the time discussion started at 5 p.m. to easily pass the bill.

Hailed as a way to reward the state's best teachers, the proposed law would base half a teacher's evaluation on students' test performance. Instead of the current system, which rewards teachers based on years of experience, advanced degrees and extra certification, proponents say newer teachers could make more money earlier in their careers if their students are successful.

``What is unacceptable is the status quo -- telling a beginning teacher that no matter what you do in the classroom, there's nothing you can do to increase your pay,'' said Rep. Anitere Flores, a Miami Republican.

She voted in favor of the bill.

But opponents -- many teachers, unions, Democrats and some Republicans -- say the bill would abolish job security, discourage new teachers from working in Florida and prompt existing educators to leave.

Said Broward Teachers Union President Pat Santeramo: ``This is a very dark day for education and teachers in general.''

New teachers would be placed on annual contracts that would not be automatically renewed. Teachers who are already working would not be guaranteed extra pay for future advanced degrees; the program that awards bonuses for National Board Certification would be eliminated for teachers who aren't certified by 2010.

``This bill is totally unnecessary,'' said state Rep. Marty Kiar, D-Davie. ``Also, this bill is just bad.''

He added: ``What good public policy mandates is that this terrible bill dies a very quick death.''

Thousands of educators, parents and students around the state have picketed, e-mailed, called and traveled to Tallahassee to vent their ire.

Thursday, as House members debated the bill, hundreds of Broward teachers marched in protest in Tamarac. At Coral Park High in West Miami-Dade, 1,000 students walked out in opposition to the bill.

While many opponents agreed the measure has some good qualities, most complained about how quickly it had been steered through the Legislature.

``I don't think myself or anyone in this chamber is against the concept of better teachers,'' said Miami Rep. Julio Robaina, a Republican. ``But you know what I want to do? I want to get it right. I want to make sure that we take the time to get it right.''

He voted against the bill.

As the bill progressed, school district officials fretted about the additional costs they expected to have to bear. School districts would be required to divert 5 percent of their funding back to the state to pay for the program.

``In terms of budget, certainly it's simply another nail in the coffin for public education,'' said Broward Schools Superintendent Jim Notter.

He estimated it would add more than $100 million in costs, largely to develop new tests that would be used to measure student growth.

Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho estimated the proposed legislation would cost the Miami-Dade district about $155 million.

On Thursday, Carvalho raised additional concerns -- including that the law would not guarantee compensation for teachers who complete advanced degrees. The portion of their evaluation not based on student test scores could include credit for degrees.

``It was their work and we ought to reward them,'' he said. ``I will do everything in my power. . . to protect the effort and the sacrifice that they put forth in obtaining higher degrees.''

Though the Miami-Dade School Board did not take an official position on the bill, board Chairman Solomon Stinson said he hoped Crist would veto it.

Carvalho has advocated for negotiating pay-for-performance measures on the local level.

Notter said the measure makes recruiting teachers -- especially for hard-to-fill areas in science and special education -- even harder.

``It literally wipes out of our vocabulary the words retention and recruitment,'' he said. New teachers, Notter predicted, will ``have Florida at the bottom of their list.''

Brenda Samayoa, 22, has been training to be a teacher since ninth grade, when she entered a program that prepares high school students for a future in education. Now a senior at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, she said she sees good and bad points in the bill -- but still plans to teach in Florida.

She also wants to pursue advanced degrees and National Board Certification, even if she won't be promised any bonuses for that.

``I really don't think that teaching is a money job,'' she said.

One thing worries her a lot: the lack of job security.

``It's a scary thought,'' she said.



which has lead to thousands of kids protesting on their teacher's behalf:

Teachers, Students To Continue Protests in West Kendall Over SB6

http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/04/12/1575266/teachers-students-to-continue.html

Michael Marko West Kendall Today
Posted on Mon, Apr. 12, 2010

Quote:
Student walkouts and teacher “sickouts” erupted throughout West Kendall on Friday and will continue today over the passing of a controversial bill that ties teacher pay to the test performances of students and reforms the tenure of teachers.

At 1 p.m. Friday at John A. Ferguson High School in West Kendall, a microcosm of what happened in other schools, students suddenly left class and took to the athletic field where they waved placards that read: “Veto”, “No education w/ bill 6” and other similarly worded attacks on the controversial legislation. Drivers and news crews along Southwest 162nd Avenue saw it all. The students deafeningly shouted “Kill the bill!” and enthusiastically waved and climbed the fence to make their disapproval known.

The action was apparently coordinated by text messages sent to the students’ phones. Who sent the texts is in question.

On Friday, word spread that many teachers were planning on being absent from school on Monday to send a message to Gov. Charlie Crist on the bill known as SB 6, which was fast-tracked through the state Senate last month and passed in the House last week. Crist has until Friday to sign the bill into law or veto it.

Protests are expected until Crist makes a decision on the bill.

Emotion about the legislation seemed to outweigh details about how it might affect teachers. “This bill’s gonna ruin my life. My mom’s a teacher. She hardly makes it every month,” said Carlos Frade, 17, of The Hammocks, who said his mother taught at Ferguson High and was a single parent with two children to support.

They weren’t alone. All over Florida there was an upwelling of fear and anger by students and teachers, many wearing black in solidarity, at the bill that was passed by the Florida House of Representatives in the wee hours Friday while most of the state slept.

As well as expressing any real understanding of the implications of the pending law, students stood in for teachers who are not legally allowed to strike. But the teachers are required to keep watch over their students, so many followed the students out onto the field.

Social Studies teacher Roger Coriat, dressed in black, was one of the instructors present to keep an eye on the kids.

“If my students walk out of my room, I have a responsibility to make sure they’re safe and, if that means following them here, well, here I am," he said. "And maybe educate them about freedom of assembly, freedom of expression.”

But he was clear about his concern as well - especially if higher degrees will not affect how teachers would be treated if the bill becomes law. Currently, teachers are rewarded monetarily if they seek higher degrees, but some experts say those degrees won't matter if this bill becomes law.

“I’ve been teaching 11 years and I’ve met plenty of bad teachers. Nobody can deny that some teachers really shouldn’t be in their job, but there’s got to be better ways to assess who they are than to make salaries and futures dependent on what a kid does on a test," he said. "If you’re going to say things like advanced degrees, national board certifications and things like that aren’t going to count, then what incentive does a teacher have to go for a master’s or doctorate? There’s a lot of teachers going to school right now. Why should they continue if it means nothing in the long run?"

"The legislators in Tallahassee have taken Obama’s advice to the extreme." he added. "Our system needs improvement, there’s no doubt about that, but this is not the right way to go about it. The only thing left is for the Governor to veto it. I know he wants to be elected Senator this November. This might definitely affect how he fares in that race. This could be his last big thing as Governor.”

Senate Bill 6, or SB6, is one of two bills meant to put Florida's education system on track. The other is SB4, which is considered a bill with it's heart in the right place, according to some. Though not perfect, it has wide bi-partisan approval for it's prioritizing of math and science in High School.

But SB6 is controversial - and it passed.

Miami-Dade teachers have postings on Facebook encouraging colleagues to rally against the legislation from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday at Tropical Park in West Miami-Dade. Under Florida law, teachers cannot go on strike, and United Teachers of Dade officials have said they do not promote a "sickout."


Fun times, fun times...
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Lasairfiona



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 1:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't get it: why is this a bad concept? I will say that I doubt the tests to evaluate the students and therefore the teachers are up to snuff. And I wonder how you score teachers in overall bad schools (lower funding, etc) vs good school or if you would only score within similar levels of school resources or something.

BUT why is it bad to evaluate teachers based on performance? Everyone else is AND I think it would lead to better teaching. I have thought this was a great idea since college because university teachers could really use a different motivation.

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Darqcyde



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 1:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Any type of education system that can be gamed at the cost of children's education is a bad idea. Also I think it's going to foster resentment. It's hard to like the kid who got a C because it's all he's really capable of, especially if it means that he's stopping you from going on vacation in June.

better test scores != better educated kids
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Mizike



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 1:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you pay a teacher based on the results of a test, the teacher has an incentive to teach the test, not the skills.

The teacher also has an incentive to falsify test results, as happened in Chicago when they tried a similar concept.
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ShadowCell



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 1:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Especially when the test itself fails to reflect a progression of skills the higher up you go.
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Lasairfiona



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 1:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And on the other hand you have teachers that are totally crap and only have to incentive to teach the kids to keep their job. They don't have to do well. They only have internal motivation to teach well. Why not add an external motivation? If not a test, how?

There are many, many wonderful teachers and I do not want to say that they are not out there. I just have a problem with teachers that can just coast and still keep their job. Sure that is more of a problem with tenure than with raises but they are pretty well linked.

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Yorick



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 1:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lasairfiona wrote:
BUT why is it bad to evaluate teachers based on performance? Everyone else is AND I think it would lead to better teaching. I have thought this was a great idea since college because university teachers could really use a different motivation.

test results don't reflect teacher performance. Some people test better than others, for one. As Mizike said, if your eval depends on the test, teach the test. or, to look at it another way, dumb things down so that everyone will pass the test with a minimum of effort. In ten years, it's "Idiocracy". Hooray for American values.
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Lasairfiona



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 2:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay... How do we evaluate teacher performance?
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Darqcyde



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 2:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lasairfiona wrote:
Okay... How do we evaluate teacher performance?

there is NO easy answer to this and they need to stop looking for one. I'm not saying that there is no answer to this but I feel very strongly that what we are trying to do isn't working. We are not yet able to accurately quantify as much as we think we can. Some things NEED a qualitative analysis as well. TO me, going strictly by the numbers is pointless.

I mean what about Gym? Art? Music? How do we test those?
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nathan



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 10:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are a lot of shitty teachers, and we do desperately need to find a way to weed out the bad ones - but that alone won't get us very far in my opinion. This country has a massive anti-intellectual bent, coupled with lots of laissez faire parenting. One good teacher, no matter how good, cannot turn around an entire class of bad students, let alone multiple classes a day.

Parents have to be deeply involved with their children's education. As long as ours keep treating it like daycare, daycare is largely what it will remain.
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Thy Brilliance



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 3:40 am    Post subject: University students don't take them seriously either. Reply with quote

Lasairfiona wrote:
I don't get it: why is this a bad concept? I will say that I doubt the tests to evaluate the students and therefore the teachers are up to snuff. And I wonder how you score teachers in overall bad schools (lower funding, etc) vs good school or if you would only score within similar levels of school resources or something.

BUT why is it bad to evaluate teachers based on performance? Everyone else is AND I think it would lead to better teaching. I have thought this was a great idea since college because university teachers could really use a different motivation.


Putting peoples livelihoods at the whims of children is foolish at best.
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dr_destructo



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 4:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How is it fair to pay someone who may be a fantastic teacher, who just so happens to be at a low-income school less, than a crappy teacher in a high-income school? It's a fact that low-income schools do worse on tests than those schools with rich parents. What's going to happen, is that the children will suffer where help is needed most. How about we provide for the children. Maybe upgrade the education system. Nathan hit it on the head with:
Quote:
This country has a massive anti-intellectual bent, coupled with lots of laissez faire parenting. One good teacher, no matter how good, cannot turn around an entire class of bad students, let alone multiple classes a day.

Parents have to be deeply involved with their children's education. As long as ours keep treating it like daycare, daycare is largely what it will remain.


I mean the Texas school board is altering history. How is this a step in the right direction? Teachers have long been the forgotten soldier in the effort to teach and lead the youth of America. Adults, for the most part, treat school as daycare. Not as a place for their child to grow into an indepent thinker. How is (1) person supposed to control/teach/supervise a group of children when the class sizes are surpassing 40+ students? Good luck getting anything taught in that classroom.

If you want to truly change the system, start by giving them funding. Fix the schools and provide adequate learning tools for the students.
I feel that we, the voters, are to blame. I can't remember how many bills have been on the ballet to increase school fund haven't been passed.

But can you really blame the teachers for not wanting to give their full effort? If you treat a bill on the ballot as your yearly review, and everytime your up for a raise you get denied regardless of how well you are doing, at what point do you just say 'fuck it'? If you're jobs not actually at stake because you haven't molested any kids and you're doing enough to keep your head above water, why put in the extra effort?

I've known plenty of teachers who average 10-12 hour days, 5 days a week. Then they also give out their email & phone numbers for after hours questions. All of which is not part of the job description or taken into consideration for extra pay. Would you do this for your job? I mean really? If you're job only requires you to work 8 hours a day, would you just go ahead and say "hmmm, I think I'll just work off the clock for the next 5 hours"?

Truly, society is to blame for this. We're putting the blame from when when we were in school and didn't like a certain teacher, on today's education system. Are we really that petty, or are we just dumb? I have to say, when I was in school, my parents treated school as my job. It was my job to do well. Did I always like it? Not really. But, at the same time, do I always like what I have to do at my current job? Nope. We've lost focus as a nation, that education is the basis for a successful life.

I always used to joke that the Bush administration was trying to 'dumb down' the populous so they would stop asking questions. If you're working 5 minimum wage jobs just to pay the bills, when do you have the time to question the antics of our leaders? It seems more and more that this is what we are trying to do to ourselves. We're not providing the education our children deserve. How are we to advance as a country when we don't value the education our future receives?
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Lasairfiona



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 1:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I completely agree that the schools need more funding, that we need a better curiculum, and that parents need to stop viewing school as daycare as that attitude gets transfered to the kids.

We can't do anything about the parents. You can't legislate that parents care. We can vote for more education funding and I think that will happen more now (or at least more than under Bush). To fix that, we need to have a nationwide campaign to push education. A better curiculum would follow.
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Lasairfiona



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BUT we still need to weed out the bad teachers. Getting rid of them and putting in a proper evaluation system is one of the important steps to improving the system. In fact, I think a proper system that rewards good teaching and properly pays our teachers will help them respect the job more of course there are many demoralized teachers with our current system; it isn't a fair system with no reward system.

So tell me, what is a proper system?
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Michael



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is none. The decision is far too difficult to automate (which is what a strict bureaucratic or any other system does, at heart) and needs to be made on a case to case basis. The only way to do this is to rely for a large part on the judgement of the teacher's managers, and their managers, and their managers etc. all the way up the chain.

It's kinda like law, or running a large company. You need to have a set of guidelines and then hope you have a strong and motivated workforce that will make the individual decisions.
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