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
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
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
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
Ignorance is, indeed, total bliss.