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Sunday, March 4, 2012

1,500 Teachers Paid by the UFT AND NYC DOE To Miss Class

Tom Dromgoole: Manhattan high schools, DOE Salary: $100,049, UFT Salary: $50,461 Photo NYPost/Alex Rud.

1,500 teachers paid to do union business and miss class

By SUSAN EDELMAN, Last Updated:7:12 PM, February 28, 2011
Posted:12:40 AM, February 27, 2011
In the city's funny math, you get only one teacher for the price of two.
The Department of Education pays about 1,500 teachers for time they spend on union activities -- and pays other teachers to replace them in the classroom.
It's a sweetheart deal that costs taxpayers an extra $9 million a year to pay fill-ins for instructors who are sprung -- at full pay -- to carry out responsibilities for the United Federation of Teachers.
With Mayor Bloomberg calling for thousands of teacher layoffs to balance the 2012 budget, critics say it's time to halt the extravagant benefit.
"In these tight fiscal times, it defies common sense to pay two different people to do one job," said Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, a government watchdog. "It's a waste of money."
That $9 million would cover the salaries of 198 new teachers at the current annual $45,530 starting pay
The DOE lets 40 experienced teachers collect top pay and fringe benefits, but work just one class period a day.
Under a longstanding contract agreement, the DOE excuses these veterans to work for the UFT -- currently 38 as district representatives and two as union vice presidents. The UFT pays them another salary, plus expenses.
English teacher Tom Dromgoole, for instance, collects top teacher pay, $100,049 a year, from the DOE for his slot at Leadership and Public Service HS in downtown Manhattan. But he is relieved for most of the day to serve as a UFT high school rep. The UFT supplements his salary by $50,461, records show.
Dromgoole is outspoken on state budget cuts, which he blasted at a boisterous protest last March with UFT President Michael Mulgrew. Reached Friday outside his Brooklyn townhouse, Dromgoole brushed past a reporter who asked about his UFT work, saying, "No comment."
Another veteran teacher said of the lucrative gigs, "It's a plum because you're not teaching. Some principals give them little or nothing to do" because the UFT reps are powerful.
The rest of the 1,500 teachers paid for time away from students are UFT "chapter leaders," who represent faculty at each school. They get at least four or five class periods a week "for investigation of grievances" and other union-related duties, the contract says.
The UFT reimburses the DOE only about $900,000 of nearly $10 million it spends to replace the teachers, officials said.
One principal said his school's chapter leader is helpful as a staff liaison, but he questioned why the UFT -- which collects $126 million in member dues -- doesn't cover the cost: "They have a lot of money to run TV ads. Should DOE be paying for this?"
UFT spokesman Dick Riley said such arrangements are common among city unions "and were instituted with the agreement of NYC government."
A spokeswoman for Mayor Bloomberg declined to comment.
Additional reporting by Farrah Weinstein
UFT President Mike Mulgrew
From Betsy Combier :
By the way, if you go to "Seethroughny" and "payrolls, City of New York, Education, Department of, you will see that Michael Mulgrew received the following amounts from the Department:
2008: Annual Salary $85,426       Total (received from DOE) $80,989
2009  Annual Salary $85,426       Total (received from DOE) $56,951
2010  Annual Salary $85,426       Total (received from DOE) $1,661
   Please tell me, Mike, what you were paid by the DOE 2008-2012 for? And, why did you and Emmelina Camacho-Mendez leave/get removed/transfer from William Grady HS in Brooklyn in 2004 to the UFT? Why did custodian Donald Herb say he " finally caught them (you and Emmelina) in the act"????? Are you negotiating for UFT members in good faith?
Readers want to know.

1,500 NYC Teachers Paid Full-Time Teacher Salaries to Do Union Business Instead
pumabydesign001's blog

officials said.
One principal said his school’s chapter leader is helpful as a staff liaison, but he questioned why the UFT — which collects $126 million in member dues — doesn’t cover the cost: ‘They have a lot of money to run TV ads. Should DOE be paying for this?”
It should be noted that this deal occurred under the watch of Michael Bloomberg.
The number of United Federation of Teachers employees and executives raking in more than $100,000 in annual compensation soared 38 percent over the past six years, a Post analysis of the powerful teachers union’s federal labor filings found….
President Michael Mulgrew led the pack in 2010, with a base salary of $238,847. Other top UFT earners include CFO David Hickey ($230,086) and secretary Michael Mendel ($212,237).”

Walcott Says That "Just Cause" in arbitration is Harmful To His Agenda

In the Youtube video below, you can listen to NYC DOE CEO Dennis Walcott making fun of "Just Cause" in 3020-a. He says that this must be taken out of the process, it gets in the way of what he needs to get done, which is get rid of teachers. All teachers brought to 3020-a.

Priceless. Walcott gets my award for the most despicable member of any education administration currently in office. Cant we get rid of him?

The reason for my saying this is that I know how school administrators push good people out of their jobs, just read my post on this blog and on my website called "The Gotcha Squad". In NYC right now, if you dont use a pen instead of a pencil you can get terminated. For example, a teacher was accused of "pinching" a boy's ear so that it bled, and was fined $10,000. Go ahead, pinch your ear. Got any blood? No? Neither does anyone else I know. But the investigator found guilt after interviewing the boy and after taking a picture of the boy's ear a week later and saying that the ear was "pink"; and so Arbitrator Josh Javits (in my opinion an arbitrator who was "hired to fire") found guilt as well, but due to the long career of this person he did not terminate her, as requested by the Department Attorney. This decision, to not terminate, made the Department furious.

This Just Cause Standard seems to be the most important and only due process statute left in New York City for employees of the DOE brought to 3020-a arbitration. I have sat in on hearings of DOE employees because I want to see how the 3020-a Attorney for the Respondent (UFT tenured member) honors the due process cited in Just Cause. I am not there to see that everyone is exonerated, because many are guilty of something, just not what the Department is charging with a demand for termination. In my non-lawyer opinion, very rarely is a UFT member deserving of termination even if some of the ridiculous charges are validated by a "preponderance of evidence," which astonishingly doesn't happen very often (yet the arbitrator terminates anyway in an arbitrary and capricious manner).

When you get to 3020-a, all UFT members, and you meet with your NYSUT Attorney, remember that the Attorney you are speaking with does not represent you at 3020-a, but represents the UFT. This is difficult to imagine, but it is a fact. A NYSUT Attorney spent alot of time with me several months ago explaining how detrimental this is to individual representation, and this person was very unhappy about this. Ask you attorney how many cases he/she has won, and when/where. In NYC, NYSUT has won exoneration in very few cases over the past several years.

By the way, Walcott was advised by the panel chair not to read any documents into the record, and he says that he does not read from any prepared statements, he likes to "speak from the heart" - then proceeds to read from the document in front of him. I'm not impressed.

Youtube video (starts at 6 minutes, 10 seconds):
Public Hearing May 23, 2011

From the NYC DOE Website:

Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott

Dennis M. Walcott is Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education. As Chancellor, Walcott oversees a system of almost 1,700 schools with 1.1 million students, 136,000 employees, and a $23 billion budget. Building on Mayor Bloomberg’s Children First reforms, Chancellor Walcott is committed to cultivating teacher talent; expanding school choices for families so that students attend schools that best meet their individual needs; creating strong partnerships with parents; and preparing students to graduate from high school and succeed in college and careers. 

Prior to his appointment as Chancellor, Walcott served as Mayor Bloomberg’s Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development for more than eight years. In that capacity, he oversaw and coordinated the operations of the Department of Education, the New York City Housing Authority, the Department of Youth and Community Development and the Mayor’s Office of Adult Education. He also reviewed the activities of the New York City School Construction Authority, City University of New York, and the City University Construction Fund. Mr. Walcott was responsible for collaborating with community-based organizations citywide and coordinating policies concerning youth programs and adult education. He currently serves on the board of the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation, and previously served as Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Commission for Construction Opportunity. 

As a kindergarten teacher in the childcare center where he began his career, Chancellor Walcott recognized the need for a male role model in many of the children’s lives, and in 1975, he founded the Frederick Douglass Brother-to-Brother program, a mentoring program for young boys.  Before joining the Bloomberg Administration in 2002, he was the President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York Urban League where for more than 12 years he expanded educational and youth service programs including Jeter’s Leaders and Bridge to Brotherhood programs, Healthy Start, Northern Manhattan Perinatal Partnership, and the 140th Street Building Block Program. He was previously the Executive Director of the Harlem Dowling Westside Center where he expanded services to children and families.

Chancellor Walcott graduated from New York City public schools in Queens, including P.S. 36, I.S. 192, and Francis Lewis High School. A lifelong Southeast Queens resident, Chancellor Walcott graduated from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut with a Bachelor’s degree and a Master of Education in 1973 and 1974, respectively, and in 1980, received his Master of Social Work from Fordham University. He has served on numerous boards including Carver Bank Corporation, Primary Care Development Corporation, and the former New York City Board of Education. He has also served as an adjunct professor of social work at York College and as a talk show radio host. Chancellor Walcott and his wife Denise have four children: Dejeanne, Dana, Shatisha and Timmy; and two grandsons, Justin and Gavin.

NYC Teacher William Johnson on School Ecosystems, and Being a "Bad" Teacher

NYC Special Education Teacher William Johnson: Confessions of a ‘Bad’ Teacher

William Johnson wrote: "What makes a great teacher? To a lot of people, the answer seems simple enough: a great teacher is one whose students achieve. For the most part these days, student success is measured with test scores. Logically then, a great teacher is one whose students perform well on tests......I’m a bad teacher. That’s not my opinion; it’s how I’m labeled by the city’s Education Department. Last June, my principal at the time rated my teaching “unsatisfactory,” checking off a few boxes on an evaluation sheet that placed my career in limbo. That same year, my school received an “A” rating. I was a bad teacher at a good school. It was pretty humiliating."

   William Johnson   
March 3, 2012
Confessions of a ‘Bad’ Teacher

I AM a special education teacher. My students have learning disabilities ranging from autism and attention-deficit disorder to cerebral palsy and emotional disturbances. I love these kids, but they can be a handful. Almost without exception, they struggle on standardized tests, frustrate their teachers and find it hard to connect with their peers. What’s more, these are high school students, so their disabilities are compounded by raging hormones and social pressure.

As you might imagine, my job can be extremely difficult. Beyond the challenges posed by my students, budget cuts and changes to special-education policy have increased my workload drastically even over just the past 18 months. While my class sizes have grown, support staff members have been laid off. Students with increasingly severe disabilities are being pushed into more mainstream classrooms like mine, where they receive less individual attention and struggle to adapt to a curriculum driven by state-designed high-stakes tests.

On top of all that, I’m a bad teacher. That’s not my opinion; it’s how I’m labeled by the city’s Education Department. Last June, my principal at the time rated my teaching “unsatisfactory,” checking off a few boxes on an evaluation sheet that placed my career in limbo. That same year, my school received an “A” rating. I was a bad teacher at a good school. It was pretty humiliating.

Like most teachers, I’m good some days, bad others. The same goes for my students. Last May, my assistant principal at the time observed me teaching in our school’s “self-contained” classroom. A self-contained room is a separate classroom for students with extremely severe learning disabilities. In that room, I taught a writing class for students ages 14 to 17, whose reading levels ranged from third through seventh grades.

When the assistant principal walked in, one of these students, a freshman girl classified with an emotional disturbance, began cursing. When the assistant principal ignored her, she started cursing at me. Then she began lobbing pencils across the room. Was this because I was a bad teacher? I don’t know.

I know that after she began throwing things, I sent her to the dean’s office. I know that a few days later, I received notice that my lesson had been rated unsatisfactory because, among other things, I had sent this student to the dean instead of following our school’s “guided discipline” procedure.

I was confused. Earlier last year, this same assistant principal observed me and instructed me to prioritize improving my “assertive voice” in the classroom. But about a month later, my principal observed me and told me to focus entirely on lesson planning, since she had no concerns about my classroom management. A few weeks earlier, she had written on my behalf for a citywide award for “classroom excellence.” Was I really a bad teacher?

In my three years with the city schools, I’ve seen a teacher with 10 years of experience become convinced, after just a few observations, that he was a terrible teacher. A few months later, he quit teaching altogether. I collaborated with another teacher who sought psychiatric care for insomnia after a particularly intense round of observations. I myself transferred to a new school after being rated “unsatisfactory.”

Behind all of this is the reality that teachers care a great deal about our work. At the school where I work today, my “bad” teaching has mostly been very successful. Even so, I leave work most days replaying lessons in my mind, wishing I’d done something differently. This isn’t because my lessons are bad, but because I want to get better at my job.

In fact, I don’t just want to get better; like most teachers I know, I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I have to be. Dozens and dozens of teenagers scrutinize my language, clothing and posture all day long, all week long. If I’m off my game, the students tell me. They comment on my taste in neckties, my facial hair, the quality of my lessons. All of us teachers are evaluated all day long, already. It’s one of the most exhausting aspects of our job.

Teaching was a high-pressure job long before No Child Left Behind and the current debates about teacher evaluation. These debates seem to rest on the assumption that, left to our own devices, we teachers would be happy to coast through the school year, let our skills atrophy and collect our pensions.

The truth is, teachers don’t need elected officials to motivate us. If our students are not learning, they let us know. They put their heads down or they pass notes. They raise their hands and ask for clarification. Sometimes, they just stare at us like zombies. Few things are more excruciating for a teacher than leading a class that’s not learning. Good administrators use the evaluation processes to support teachers and help them avoid those painful classroom moments — not to weed out the teachers who don’t produce good test scores or adhere to their pedagogical beliefs.

Worst of all, the more intense the pressure gets, the worse we teach. When I had administrators breathing down my neck, the students became a secondary concern. I simply did whatever my assistant principal asked me to do, even when I thought his ideas were crazy. In all honesty, my teaching probably became close to incoherent. One week, my assistant principal wanted me to focus on arranging the students’ desks to fit with class activities, so I moved the desks around every day, just to show that I was a good soldier. I was scared of losing my job, and my students suffered for it.

That said, given all the support in the world, even the best teacher can’t force his students to learn. Students aren’t simply passive vessels, waiting to absorb information from their teachers and regurgitate it through high-stakes assessments. They make choices about what they will and won’t learn. I know I did. When I was a teenager, I often stayed up way too late, talking with friends, listening to music or playing video games. Did this affect my performance on tests? Undoubtedly. Were my teachers responsible for these choices? No.

My best teachers, the ones I still think about today, exposed me to new and exciting ideas. They created classroom environments that welcomed discussion and intellectual risk-taking. Sometimes, these teachers’ lessons didn’t sink in until years after I’d left their classrooms. I’m thinking about Ms. Leonard, the English teacher who repeatedly instructed me to “write what you know,” a lesson I’ve only recently begun to understand. She wasn’t just teaching me about writing, by the way, but about being attentive to the details of my daily existence.

It wasn’t Ms. Leonard’s fault that 15-year-old me couldn’t process this lesson completely. She was planting seeds that wouldn’t bear fruit in the short term. That’s an important part of what we teachers do, and it’s the sort of thing that doesn’t show up on high-stakes tests.

How, then, should we measure students and teachers? In ninth grade, my students learn about the scientific method. They learn that in order to collect good data, scientists control for specific variables and test their impact on otherwise identical environments. If you give some students green fields, glossy textbooks and lots of attention, you can’t measure them against another group of students who lack all of these things. It’s bad science.

Until we provide equal educational resources to all students and teachers, no matter where they come from, we can’t say — with any scientific accuracy — how well or poorly they’re performing. Perhaps if we start the conversation there, things will start making a bit more sense.

William Johnson is a teacher at a public high school in Brooklyn who writes on education for the Web site Gotham Schools.

FEBRUARY 6, 2012
A New Model: Schools As Ecosystems
by Mark Anderson and William Johnson, at 10:30 am

What makes a great teacher? To a lot of people, the answer seems simple enough: a great teacher is one whose students achieve. For the most part these days, student success is measured with test scores. Logically then, a great teacher is one whose students perform well on tests.

Let’s take it a step further: what makes a great school? Again, the same basic logic applies: great schools are ones that produce the highest proportion of students who perform well on tests. The role of the school, in other words, is to produce students successful according to test proficiency.

Perhaps this framework appears overly simplistic, but it’s the framework that currently directs our efforts to improve public schools. Schools are knowledge-manufacturing facilities, with students being their products. This framework has led school reformers to advocate for accountability systems, human capital mechanisms, and other private sector management tools in public school reform.

Not surprisingly, New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is an aggressive proponent of this business framework. The mayor’s private sector management approach recently led him to propose a “turnaround” program at 33 city schools that would require replacing half of those school’s teachers. Not happy with the product? Fire experienced workers and bring in cheaper, lower skilled replacements.

This framework is not just a New York thing. All across the country, school districts are being pushed, by influential figures like U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Calif. Secretary of Education Bonnie Reiss, to evaluate teachers based on a “value-added” analysis. What does this mean? It’s a kind of metaphor: students are raw natural resources; unprocessed, they contribute little to the economy and thus possess little value. If teachers process them effectively, however, their value increases.

Let’s leave aside our gut reactions to talking about children this way. The real problem with this framework is that it’s been a dead end. For the most part, debates about how to produce better students have led to discord within the field of education, while demonstrating little significant impact.

Applying an industrial-growth model to student learning has rightfully caused consternation on the part of both parents and teachers. Parents don’t send their children to school simply to be processed like chaff from wheat. Yes, parents want their kids to get good jobs and to be academically successful, but they also want their kids to become mature, responsible, well-rounded individuals. Parents look for more from a school than its achievement on tests: is the school safe? Will their child receive individualized support and attention? Are there extracurricular resources and programs available? Are children happy at school? What sort of curriculum is offered?

As special education teachers, we know how critical these environmental factors are. Our students, for reasons as varied as their individual learning needs, rarely thrive in a high pressure, test-driven environment. The vast majority of students with exceptional learning needs perform significantly below the norm on standardized tests, significantly enough that these tests (or the scores required to pass them) must constantly be modified so that our students can be accounted as successful. Students receiving special education services are often more attuned to environmental factors than their general education counterparts. It is this sensitivity to their environment that often makes it so difficult for such students to focus on their studies.

Schools as ecosystems

But positive, supportive environments are not important only for students with exceptional learning needs. All students thrive in environments that support their development in diverse ways: from offering a coherent, sequential curriculum to providing students with a comfortable, stimulating physical space. Such schools, like their curricula, take responsibility not simply for academic development, but personal development as well. School environments where the curriculum is designed around standardized tests, and where factors like the physical and social environment take a back seat to those tests, are not conducive to learning.

We propose a fundamental shift in the framework and language we use to discuss educational reform. Instead of a framework that views students as products, we propose a framework in which the products of education are viewed as the contexts and content of schools themselves. The schools we produce should be positive and nurturing learning environments where students are engaged in a rich, coherent curriculum. Rather than view our students as widgets, we’d do better to view them as vibrant, dynamic organisms, and view the school, by extension, as an ecosystem. While such a model would make it harder to quantify school quality based on a simple numerical scale, it would enable us to have more productive conversations about systemic education reform, and to take action in targeted ways that will have a sustainable impact.

There are principles for maintaining a healthy ecosystem that can provide guidance in strengthening our school environments. We are certain that this shift in focus will — perhaps paradoxically — result in more productive student outcomes. Land maintained according to sound ecological principles results in abundant microbial soil life, interdependency of diverse species, and a sustainable yield. A school maintained according to ecological principles will result in lower teacher turnover, greater community engagement, and positive long-term student outcomes.

Our belief is that many schools commonly considered “great” already operate as healthy, sustainable ecosystems. Such schools offer their students adequate sunlight, fresh air, exercise, and nutrition. Their students feel intellectually, emotionally, and physically safe because their school communities celebrate diversity and offer equity of opportunity. These schools offer an array of supplemental options–such as music, foreign languages, clubs, and sports–to meet the diverse needs of their dynamic student bodies. They offer protection from short-sighted policies and destructive external forces through the strong relationships and trust engendered and developed within the school community. They possess built-in mechanisms to maintain equity and equilibrium, preventing one type of personality or learning need from dominating at the expense of others.

Cultivation, not demolition

How does this framework relate to ongoing conflict around school closures? Under the Department of Education’s current “turnaround” plan, as many as 33 city schools could be closed, re-staffed (with as many as half their current teachers replaced), and reopened. At schools all over New York, teachers, students, and families have voiced concerns about the city’s slash-and-burn approach to school “turnaround.”

If schools are factories, tearing down “ineffective” ones and replacing them with newer, shinier ones might sound like good business. If, however, we view schools as ecosystems, then struggling schools are depleted ecosystems desperately in need of resuscitation and support. Such resuscitation requires a holistic, long-term approach.

Using an ecological design approach, reformers could not treat schools as vacant lots primed for subdivision. Instead, school revitalization would need to be a community-driven, long-term process. In an ecological framework, school reformers would need to acknowledge the complexity of school communities, rather than simply pretending that schools could be leveled, bulldozed, and magically reinvented as high performing lots of isolated land.

Implicit in such a framework, and diametrically opposed to the “student as product” framework, is the understanding that there is no ideal school (nor student). Just as healthy ecosystems might come in a myriad of forms, healthy school environments may come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, dependent on specific local community needs and circumstances. That said, healthy school environments, like ecosystems, are guided and cultivated by a set of core principles, which the authors would like to explore in future posts.

Perhaps the best part of this paradigm shift (for the authors) is that in such a framework, the role of the teacher would shift from test-prep overseer to environmental steward. Instead of being trained and treated as a widget, teachers would be content experts and community leaders of their classroom and school ecosystem, responsible for all the students who inhabit it. Such stewards would necessarily need to be long-term inhabitants of these ecosystems themselves, growing more and more effective as their knowledge of the environment deepens and their relationships within the school community strengthens.

A new metric

Do we sound like dreamers? Would such a model be impossible to quantify? We do not believe so, and we’re not the first to propose such a paradigm shift. In fact, we believe that by refocusing our attention on the content and contexts of our schools, we can establish a new measuring stick. What’s more, since this framework would not be based on improving student test scores but on improving school environments, the responsibility would be shared by all who work within and support that community, rather than solely upon the backs of individual students and teachers within the confines of an isolated classroom.

In the posts that follow, the authors will lay out a series of ecological principles that we believe can be used as a guide for effective school design and reform. We will also examine model schools and investigate how they’ve constructed such exceptional school environments. We look forward to your feedback.

Test scores mean nothing

A highly-rated teacher on the follies of using data to evaluate educators

According to the numbers, I am a highly effective New York City public school teacher. But you won’t see me jumping for joy over the news.
My teacher data report, along with those of 18,000 other teachers, was released last week by the Education Department after a lengthy legal battle. That report says I have a career rating that falls
at or above the 95th percentile in both English and math (as measured through a complex formula that takes into account the gains my students made on standardized tests, compared with gains made by students in similar classrooms across the city).
In fact, plenty of teachers in my school also have average-to-high ratings. Every year, however, when test scores are released, we do not celebrate; instead, we exhale and then get back to the real work of teaching.
I imagine this attitude is shared by educators across the city, whether they are in the 90th percentile or the ninth.
Since the reports were released last week, the debate has been raging about whether a formula prone to as much as 53% in margin of error is the best way to judge the effectiveness of teachers. Self-proclaimed reformers say yes; those who understand teaching say otherwise.
There is no question that teachers are responsible for the learning and growth that take place inside of their classrooms. However, standardized tests are just not a reliable measure of learning. If we are truly interested in increasing the quality of education, the conversation surrounding accountability must shift.
Imagine if doctors were held accountable based on the death rate of their patients, regardless of environmental factors and whether prescribed treatment was followed.
Imagine if firefighters were held accountable based on fire injuries and deaths, even though they didn’t start the fires, their budgets had been cut and most of the homes in their district didn’t have fire alarms.
That would be unreasonable. So why do we only apply this impossible standard to teachers?
No standardized test score can quantify what we do. In fact, we succeed in spite of — not because of — the testing culture that has pervaded our classrooms since Mayor Bloomberg took office.
Students are not created the same, even though the DOE seems to believe we can compare their teachers as if the classroom were nothing more than a repository of numerical data to be finessed and analyzed.
I know countless teachers whose ratings were not as favorable as mine and my colleagues’. These teachers are no less successful with their students. In fact, many of these teachers serve children who actually outperform the children I serve. But because they didn’t show as much progress, their teacher’s “value” is lower.
In other cases, teachers serve children with more significant needs. For example, children who need English-language instruction or special education — as well as students who fall below the poverty line. All these factors impact the validity of test scores.
In a democracy, our elected leaders are supposed to be responsive to the people they serve. As a teacher, I apply this same democratic principle to my work. And so the parents I serve know I am a good teacher not because of their child’s test score, but because they come to our classroom, see their child’s work and hear my estimation of that child’s growth.
No formula can measure the value of the relationships at the heart of good teaching.
Regardless, some will continue to argue that there is a correlation between test scores and teacher effectiveness. But correlation does not equal causation.
We could be allocating the millions spent on testing on what research shows are actual causes of positively impacting student achievement: small classes and experienced educators. That’s what our children truly need.
Cavanagh teaches special education at PS 15 in Red Hook, Brooklyn.