Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Common Sense is No Longer Common: The Facts About Teacher Accountability

      Let me just say that THIS POST IS A MUST READ!!   I know we try to keep Simply SWEET TEAching all about purposeful and practical educational resources & ideas...but I just HAD to share this with all of you!  I had dinner tonight with some friends from high school (who are ALL teachers by the way), and one of them shared this article with us.  It was written by April Hays, a teacher in South Carolina, about how well-intentioned ideas for teacher accountability in hopes of improving student achievement  have gotten out of hand and why common teacher accountability practices such as merit pay will never truly be effective.  It is so well-written and really puts things into perspective!  I usually try not to get too caught up in educational politics, but you can tell this teacher really has her students best interest at heart and has high expectations for student achievement, but at the same time wants the world to understand how unfairly teachers are treated and how a "one size fits all" testing era will never meet the needs of or accurately assess the diverse learners we teach each and every day.    - Beth

 
Common Sense Is No Longer Common  by April Hays
      I have just taught all day long in a third grade classroom. The kids were fine. The day went smooth. But I have come to two conclusions. I either:

a. Have a brilliantly blessed cranium, or
b. Am missing a few vital neuron connections in that cranium.

     Now assuming I have been brilliantly blessed, I’d like to propose legislation that would dramatically change life for the better here in SC. Read on.....

1. I would like to see all branches of law enforcement held accountable for the crime on our streets. If there is crime, surely that means they aren’t doing their jobs. We, as tax payers, deserve to live in safe neighborhoods. Regardless of whether the police serve retirement villages or drug infested prostitute hang outs, they will all be held accountable. If a policeman patrols a community with no crime, he will be paid. If a policeman has a community with crime, he will not be paid. Additionally, police may only use positive measures to enforce the law. They may no longer use any type of weapon or rude words. This may scar the self esteem of us citizens. We would then need counseling services, and the police would be responsible if one of us snaps and blows up a public establishment. If we are following the law, they must pull us over and tell us “Good Job” and perhaps give us a piece of candy. Note: personally I wouldn’t care if they congratulated me or not. If I knew I wasn’t going to get a ticket and my insurance go sky high, I’d drive at least 70 on my way home from school every single day.

2. I would like to see accountability on all dentists. If there are cavities in our mouths, obviously the dentists aren’t doing their jobs. We go to the dentist for a reason – to prevent our pearly whites from rotting out. Why can’t these highly paid professionals do their job? There should not be a cavity in any mouth in all of SC. If there are, then the dentists are falling short, and they should have their licenses revoked. They should not be allowed to practice dentistry in our state.

3. Doctors, also, should be held accountable on the job. If a doctor has a patient that has cancer, that doctor is not doing their job. Why do doctors become doctors? To heal people. Thus, if they aren’t healing people, they aren’t doing their job and should not be paid. Doctors are highly paid individuals, and we citizens deserve to be healthy. If we get these incompetent doctors out of practice, that would reduce our medical costs. Then this hoopla over health insurance would no longer be an issue (told you I had a blessed cranium).

4. Owners of gyms, health clubs, and all registered dieticians should be held accountable on their jobs. If there is obesity in their cities, obviously they aren’t doing their jobs. If health clubs and gyms have any member that weighs over 130 pounds, their establishments should be shut down. Obviously they are incompetent, and thus, should not be allowed to perform these services to the people of our state. If these individuals were held accountable on their jobs, we’d all be thin. There would be no diabetes or heart disease.

Sound ridiculous? We teachers think so, too. Yet, there are legislators, the Superintendent of Education, and our newly elected governor that want these mandates placed on teachers. They have this mentality that if a teacher performs the right combination, the human mind will click into place and our entire population will be educated. Thus, under-performing teachers will not be paid. One of these so called professionals said on tv the other night, “if our show ratings went down, we wouldn’t get paid either”. Ding, ding, ding – they choose their cast. We teachers and doctors and dentists deal with anyone that walks into our places of employment. We can not pick and choose the “best”.
Classrooms are microcosms of society. Each year, I have kids with privileged backgrounds and kids with adverse living conditions. I have kids that live on the lake, and I have had kids that live in their car. I have kids that have loving, supportive parents, and I have kids with parents that simply should not be parents. I have kids that were born with high IQ’s (this is why they are labeled as GIFTED), and I have children that are like the rest of us – normal. I have children that have been through tragedies – deaths of parents, a handicapped sibling, a terminally ill loved one, and living arrangements that make me shudder. I have children that have been taken into custody of the department of social services, and I’ve had children that have never traveled out of Anderson County. I have had children born to mothers on drugs, and I have students with no mother at all. Yet, all of these kids are expected to perform proficiently, without exception. Something is clearly not right with this picture. These students with challenges, with hardships, and who were not born “gifted” deserve an education, too. They are the reason I went to college to become a teacher – to touch lives. When this passion is being trampled on by ignorant individuals, I take that as a personal offense. SC school children deserve teachers that love them for who they are, not for the scores they achieve.
Not only is this just outright ridiculous, it is also discriminatory. Many, many people are born with handicaps. These are documented, medical conditions. They are clearly outlined. These individuals have IEPs for a reason – they have challenges. These legislators do not have the qualifications, nor do they have the authority, to lay expectations on these students. IEP’s are legally binding documents that are taken seriously.

     Furthermore, teachers do not decide the content of what they teach, how they teach it, or how it is assessed. When students take the PASS test in the spring, it is illegal for us to discuss it in anyway. We are not allowed to discuss ways we can make it better, how we can improve, or how we could be better able to meet it’s demands. We are silenced. Yet, we are held accountable for the results. Always.
Anyone, regardless of position, who can not see why paying teachers based on student performance would not work, clearly has mental challenges themselves, and an obvious inability to think above a third grade level. I challenge them to take the third grade PASS test to prove my point.
As I stated earlier, I am either brilliantly blessed or missing a few screws. This seems like a total no brainer to me. I have no idea what could possibly be going through the minds of the people out there that think teachers should be held to those ridiculous expectations that no other occupations have to answer for.

Teachers/Educators/Administrators – we’ve got to stand up for our rights and demand integrity in the schools.

Parents – your child’s future is important. Take a stand. If your children have developmental delays/learning disabilities, these new mandates are discriminatory. Make your voices heard.

      As for me, I’m instilling in my students self worth. They are important. They are special to me, and I believe in each one of them. They will make their marks on this world. I guarantee. And if my salary is docked because one of my students has a bad day and doesn’t do his absolute best on the PASS test, I’m going to be floating on a yacht in the Caribbean.
Ignorance is, indeed, total bliss.

4 comments:

Mrs. K said...

Tell it sister!!!! SO TRUE in EVERY way!! Disgusting...

lizziepink1 said...

LOVE this piece!!!

Brittany said...

Thanks for sharing this. I'm glad to find another first grade blogger in South Carolina! Thanks for sending me your blog address. I will definitely be back!
A Day in First Grade

Kelly said...

Thank you for sharing this! Talk about speaking the truth! I'm in GA, but my fellow teachers and I are always talking about the insanity of certain accountability mandates. We are taught to differentiate for children, but then they are tested as if they are all the same. I appreciate the article. I'm new to your blog - very cute!

Kelly
First Grade Fairytales

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