Posted By CotoBlogzz
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA - Larry Sand,
the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network
self-described non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing
teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations
and positions on educational issues—information teachers will often not get
from their school districts or unions, recently made the argument that the Los
Angeles Times may have started a revolution in teacher accountability by measuring teacher
performance and posting it in its Los Angeles Teacher Ratings
web page using a technique called value add
, where value add is the
difference between a student’s expected growth and actual performance.
From the various media reports, the response has been
predictable: teachers' unions
characterize the LA Times rating process as flawed, while those seeking accountability,
like Mr. Sand, think it is about time.
Now consider that
research by Adam Schaeffer of the Cato Institutes Center for Education Freedom
shows that The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) spent $29,780 per student in
fiscal year 2007-08, way above the $10,000 advertised by the school district.
Diane Lenning, seeking a post as Superintendent of California schools argues
that in order to fix the LAUSD- a district she characterizes as an albatross - it should be
broken “into about ten smaller mid-size
districts to bring more
efficient and effective oversight of Los Angeles Schools.”
While Gabriella Holt, a local community leader recently
appointed to LA County Board of Education suggested that perhaps Charter
Schools could help - in our Facebook exchange, we understand she is open to
According to Mr. Sand, he began his teaching career in New
York in 1971. Since 1984, he has taught
elementary school as well as English, math, history and ESL in the Los Angeles
Unified School District, where he also served as a Title 1 Coordinator.
In the case of Ms. Lenning - she has a point - big government does not work –
dinosaurs tend to disappear and albatrosses are not very efficient, and we
think Ms. Holt is on the right track.
While it is very easy to understand
why Mr. Sand would think that starting
to measure teacher performance would be the start of a revolution in teacher
accountability, this is hardly the case.
effectively run private sector businesses have and continue to use some sort of
value add metric. If an employee does
not add any value, the employee is let go – many times on the spot. While if a public sector employee is
incompetent or even accused of misconduct, chances are that years and
hundreds of thousands of Dollars in legal fees later, that person is still
receiving a “pay check”. So, while Ms.
Lenning’s and Mr. Sand’s ideas may be
necessary, these are not sufficient to start a revolution in public education. by any means.
What is required in public education is a real
revolution. A paradigm shift – the
slaying of the Public Education Hydra, including the Department of Education.
Keep in mind that for the last 30 years in California,
students have developed the FDH (Fat, Dumb and Happy) Syndrome, while the union
spends some $200 million/every ten years just to pursue its own political
agenda, and thousands more in Los Angeles alone to teach students how to
prepare sushi, while lobbying the states legislature to "CRIMINALIZE"
Home-school. Wit the last $26 billion teacher
bailout the President characterized as "special interest freebie, ONLY if
you think it is a special interest"
Arguably, Jaime Escalante, of Stand and Deliver fame, was a game-changer in education,
conclusively demonstrating that when willing and competent teachers want to
teach, they can teach advanced math to the most disadvantaged students – such
as Garfield HS in Los Angeles, CA.
However, the California Teacher’s Association (CTA) fought Escalante when he argued that he could
teach advanced placement math in a class with more than 50 students, despite
the overwhelming evidence siding with Escalante.
recently Doug Lemov in his Teach Like a Champion: 49
Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College book - featured as
the cover and full length feature story in the March 7 issue of
the New York Times Magazine -
opines that Escalante was a uber-teacher, the likes of which not too
many have seen, and not a good model
for the average instructor, arguing that his 49 techniques can be better scaled
to fit the more mediocre instructor, instead of trying to convert every teacher
into Escalante-like. “A few teachers may be born with an intuitive gift for
teaching, but when I watch a great teacher I see mostly hard work and attention
to detail,” according to Lenov.
The excuse that “Teachers only have so much time with the kids, and teaching to the lowest
common denominator is a disservice to those that are learning.” is just that-
an excuse - as Escalante, Lenov and a myriad of CTA-independently minded
educatiors will tell us.
OK, forget Jaime Escalante - as most teachers would probably
not qualify to seat in one of his an advanced placement math class, but what
part of Doug Lemov's book " Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put
Students on the Path to College" does the CTA not understand?
Enough with the excuses.
Enough with passing the devalued
Buck. Enough with the deflection. As
President Reagan would argue, "public sector organized labor is an
anachronism in the 21st century" - Privatizing public education is the
only sensible answer
But wait, there is more: The Department of Education
(DOE) we characterize as a parasitic bureaucracy and largely responsible for
the FDH Syndrome and the malaise afflicting public education, in a City of Bell
action we affectionally characterize as Bellisimo, has proposed a rule
that would limit educational and economic opportunities for hundreds of
thousands of Americans in its misleading
Gainful Employment rule would make entire programs ineligible for Title
IV financial aid if they fail to meet a one-size-fits-all metric test that has
little to do with academic quality.
continue to argue that public education is a national security concern and can
only be fixed through a paradigm shift – real revolution, not evolution, or
devolution in the case of the CTA
a message to the DOE, a most parasitic bureaucracy and tell it to forget about
its Gainful Employment rule and focus more on how to extinguish
itself and make way for real education innovators. You can pick up a petition from just about anyone involved
in real education, or click here,
for an example.