My friend Dr. Brittany Larkin at Auburn University took a look at Del Marsh’s interview on APTV’s Capitol Journal about the PREP bill. She minces no words in in her comments about what she heard:
“The biggest issue is Senator Marsh seems to believe the failure of Alabama public schools is the fault of the teachers. Thus he believes to improve the schools we have to evaluate teacher, remediate the “bad” ones, and ultimately get rid of the unfit ones. I get it. We want good teachers. We want to have an evaluation system of our teachers. I’ll agree to that. But here is the giant missing piece.
“Teachers have been reduced to factory workers by legislation and rules telling them what curriculum they must use, at what pace to teach, at what rate of growth is acceptable, what acceptable evaluations of growth can be used, etc. etc etc.. So, if we really want to evaluate how effective a teacher is, we have to give them the autonomy to be a teacher. This was their trained profession. Allow them to use their training both in formal schooling and in the job trainings to teach children in developmentally appropriate ways. Then you will see the good teachers from the bad. But putting teachers in shackles of what non-educators (legislators) deems appropriate and successful, then evaluating them on their performance is ridiculous.
“On top of this the legislators have not fully funded education in years. Every time, the state department of education is conservative with their funds in hopes to fully fund programs and services that the legislature requires but doesn’t fund, they get that money swiped away. Are you kidding me! So, you want to tell teachers and school how to do their job, but not give them the money to do it adequately, and then evaluate how well they can do it!
“I’d be willing to bet, the results of the state assessments is a direct result of the states effort to “provide equitable” education services. They think that equitable means giving everyone the same thing (i.e. the scripted curriculum and pacing guides to follow) will produce the same results. This is so far from reality. Reality is kids are not the same, communities are not the same, they don’t start in the same place, they don’t grow and learn at the same rate, they don’t demonstrate their knowledge in the same way. So, you can’t prescribe education as if every student is the same. Period.
“My best solution…
1) the state can provide standards created by a base of experts in our state;
2) give teachers, school systems, etc. the autonomy to do their job! Let them teach the standards the way their students need, using the curriculums, assessments, remediation, etc. to meet the goals;
3) then you can evaluate how effective a teacher/system is at moving students toward mastery of those standards;
4) Once a underperforming teacher is identified, evidence of support and remediation is provided, then a clear and supportive path for termination must be made.
5) Also, the principal must have a very influential, if not total control, over the teachers/staff hired in their building. We cannot evaluate a principal on a teacher’s performance who was “placed” in the school by the district.”
In other words, if you can’t cook, don’t try to write a cook book.