It’s enough to stress out the average public school teacher. I say average, because teachers in America teach in different circumstances. You have teachers at so-called Charter Schools with their own education theme and requirements, which may be quite different from public schools; you have teachers at magnet schools, under the purview of the local school system yet also allowed to be creative and innovative where needed; and there are the home schooled children, who, depending on the state, can be anyone from a parent to a highly certified education professional. Then there are the beleaguered public school teachers, the ones who teach most of the children in the U.S., the ones with the least say about their teaching environment and materials, being threatened yet again by another government official.
In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to, essentially, take away teacher tenure and make it harder and harder to stay a public school teacher (seehttp://ny.chalkbeat.org/2015/01/21/cuomo-will-push-for-to-raise-charter-cap-lengthen-tenure-process-revamp-evals-in-sweeping-overhaul/#.VO4IbD9D_OQ ). My friend Bud, who teaches in New York State, points out that though a Democrat, Governor Cuomo is incredibly unpopular with the teachers’ union. He believes that by making it more and more difficult to be a teacher that young people who would make good teachers are going to flock to the professional.
In point of fact, he will be helping to chase them away, and get present teachers to quit. You “don’t” help students by taking away all their teachers’ rights. A better way to help teachers help students is to ask “what teachers need,” instead of
the “this is what you are stuck with, so deal with it” philosophy of education.
Making test scores 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation will cause teachers to teach “to the test” more, making school less interesting and motivating for students. Especially in the elementary grades, we want to encourage students to want to come to school, and help develop their interests in science, reading and math. Will that happen if teachers have no time to be creative? And can a teacher magically improve her “test score” if her heterogeneous group of students is just a group poor at test taking or below average overall?
What about some accountability on the part of students and parents? Bud tells me he used to give his students work to take home, so the parents could work with them and help them improve. He stopped doing that because the parents never looked at the folder. Parents should, at least on weekends, have some responsibility for providing some enrichment for their kids, perhaps even working with their child on an assignment and reading a story together. Teachers can’t do it all; they need the support of parents and (sometimes lazy) students.
But Governor Cuomo, like so many who don’t teach or even consider what teachers need besides constant orders, isn’t considering the needs of teachers. And “teaching to the test” is not motivating. For many students, it’s a plain bore.
Teachers need better professional development and evaluation by people who “actually teach,” such as experienced Master teachers. They need parental support. They need more disciplined students. They do NOT need to have tenure taken away from them and to constantly teach to the test.
It is no wonder parents take their kids to Charter schools. There teachers are allowed to be innovative, while at the same time, parents are expected to be more involved. If we ran public schools more like that, maybe all students would do better overall.