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I am an elementary school teacher just trying to do the right thing

A Teacher’s Labor of Love Can Not Be Measured

As we celebrate Labor Day 2012 teachers all over the nation are beginning a new school year with a dark cloud on the horizon. We have been labeled failures by politicians , media outlets, corporate raiders, and movie makers. The need for education reform has been touted by both sides of the political aisle in a blind effort to pander to the raw emotions of a thoroughly hoodwinked electorate.

I’ve previously posted  data that clearly shows that graduation rates and college admissions are at historical highs. Historians like Diane Ravitch have shared data that explains the misleading nature of comparisons with other nations. Union leaders like Randi Weingarten have celebrated the gains we have seen over the last 20 years. Yet, we have been labeled as failures.

Yes, there is a need for reform!

Nothing should remain stagnant, we must constantly change and reform our ways to remain competitive. No one is disputing that. The problem arises with what has become a bastardization of true reform.

All to often, we’ve been told, it’s those ineffective teachers fault. Ignoring poverty, social needs, emotional needs, under funding, and the lack of resources, both sides of the aisle have their spiny fingers pointed right at us .. it’s those teachers that have to be fixed. As a result states have embarked on huge budget buster evaluation plans fueled by the funds held out, like  a carrot on a stick, due to Race to the Top. Here in New York State we have this debacle of an evaluation system called APPR.

The centerpiece of this frightful evaluation mess are high stakes tests ( you know, the ones RTTT was supposed to give us relief from) , district wide tests, and a third component based on observations and other evidence extracted magically throughout the year.  Using a Value Added Model which Diane Ravitch has labeled ‘junk science’ NYS hopes to root out those ineffective teachers.

Does this look like education reform?

Take a look at my district’s APPR plan.  I can’t fault my district and my fellow teachers for negotiating this nonsense because they were left with no choice. They must follow the laws of NYS.  They did their best, but unfortunately we’re now going to be judged by junk science, computer generated assessments, and a rubric that will attempt to put a numerical value on everything we do.

It’s demoralizing and unforgivable to attempt to place a numerical value on everything a teacher does.

60% of every APPR plan in NYS is based on placing a numerical value on everything we do! 

Administrators will be visiting classes with check lists and rubrics attempting to match the actions  of the teacher with a point value that will be used to measure teacher effectiveness.

A teacher’s labor of love is not measurable!

How do you place a numerical value on, the lives we have touched, the futures we have enhanced, the confidence we have instilled, the manners we have taught, the morals we have strengthened, the civic values we have formed, the smiles we have created and the country we have created?

How do you determine a numerical value on a teacher’s compassion  and understanding of a child who  faces anxiety when encountering challenging work? How do you measure the trust a student and/or a parent has in their teacher? How do you measure the hours teachers spend, looking at the ceiling in the middle of the night, as they ponder new strategies to help their students? How do you measure the tears wiped away from a frightened child as the teacher comforts and builds confidence?

This  Labor Day as we gear up for the new challenges of a new school year,  we face the unfair scrutiny endorsed by our state. Remember,  you have the power to protect your love of teaching.

It can not be measured no matter how hard they try.

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2 thoughts on “A Teacher’s Labor of Love Can Not Be Measured

  1. ruralteacher on said:

    Sorry, I couldn’t bring myself to read the 35 page APPR plan. I just heard the other day that 100 APPR plans were submitted to NYSED, and only 10 were approved. Besides the absolute WASTE of good money providing substitutes and purchasing testing – the APPR is a WASTE of good classroom time.
    Teachers on our APPR Committee were pulled from the classroom at least once every two weeks last year.

  2. Anonymous on said:

    I saw an example of this yesterday.. A new child came into our school who did not speak a word of English. The teacher sought out as many other teachers she could to translate and speak to the child and draw him pictures during the course of the day. By the end of the day the child was smiling. I wonder if new state regulations would take that into consideration? Is this considered “wasted” time or may these kind acts have given this child a new outlook in the classroom?

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