Seniority has zero to do with educational quality

Seniority has zero to do with educational quality

Appeal

Appeal

I’ve discussed some of the points of the Vergara case in this post: Education Fallacies: Correlation does not equal causation. This month, The California Teachers Association & California Federation of Teachers formally filed their appeal to the ruling in Vergara v.California, which ruled that teacher tenure was unconstitutional in terms of protecting teachers who were not providing quality instruction to students.

SFGate.com writes:

The state and teachers unions have launched a frontal attack on the June 2014 ruling, arguing that neither the judge nor the nine student plaintiffs in the well-funded suit presented any evidence that the laws have harmed students or violated their constitutional rights.

In written arguments filed this month with the Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers said the laws are based on sound policies — tenure protects experienced teachers from arbitrary or politically motivated dismissals, and basing layoffs on seniority is an objective process that promotes educational quality.

But the unions said those policy questions are legally irrelevant, because the students who filed the suit never showed that the laws affected their education. They showed no evidence that they were taught by an incompetent teacher who would have been fired or laid off had it not been for tenure or seniority protections, the unions said.

“Tenure protects experienced teachers from arbitrary or politically motivated dismissals and basing layoffs on seniority is an objective process that promotes educational quality”? There are labor laws in place to protect from arbitrary or politically motivated dismissals. But how can you explain to me that lay offs by seniority “promotes educational quality?” Seniority has zero to do with educational quality. Length of time in a job does not ensure that you are performing at a high level. Evaluations do that.

The ruling in June by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu was the first to strike down a teacher tenure law in any state. The appellate court will hear the case late this year or early next year. If its ruling is appealed further, the case could reach the state Supreme Court by the end of 2016.

Treu’s ruling followed an eight-week trial that included testimony by four students, one parent and competing groups of experts. He found that the laws violate the right of students to educational equality and “impose a disproportionate burden on poor and minority students.” The latter finding was based on a 2007 state report that found that students at “high-poverty, low-performing schools” were more likely than others to be taught by inexperienced and unqualified teachers.

We’ll see what the appellate review says of this case.

 

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Placing blame does not excuse your responsibility to offer quality education

© Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

© Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

I’d like to offer a response to the comments of the Warwick City Councilor who I’ve started a conversation with about my own high school experience.

Maggie, It is apparent that you were completely dissatisfied with your HS experience in the Warwick School District. That is really unfortunate but not peculiar to public school systems or the City of Warwick. You are convinced you would have “thrived” at the Met School which offers an alternative learning experience. Perhaps, perhaps not.

Yes, I was pretty dissatisfied with my experience at Pilgrim High School. You can learn more about why in this last post. But indicating that my experience is not “peculiar” does not excuse my high schools responsibility to offer a quality education. Claiming that other schools are not better, does not excuse your responsibility to offer a quality education. I’d like you to spend less time putting other school options down and working to fix your own schools.

I have been a mentor to students while they were enrolled at the Met. They did not flourish or enjoy the rigidity of public school education and sought a different educational platform. One dropped out of the Met because she lacked the discipline to take charge of her own education and could not handle the responsibilities or the freedom. A second graduated from the Met but left college for lack of preparation and found competition in college too stressful. In both cases, the students washed out of traditional secondary education. And others succeeded at various levels, the same proportionally to traditional schools.

I applaud your efforts to mentor students at The Met. However your story only relates to these two students in particular. The fact that they were are at The Met in the first place, indicates that they were searching for something OTHER THAN traditional public school. Can you say they would have performed better in their traditional public school? They made an effort to try a different type of school. So it did not work for them, but they tried. Clearly they were looking for another option. Perhaps a third type of school would have been appropriate. We can’t limit options because some students don’t do well. We need to continue to offer options so that as many students as possible have the opportunity to try something new to be successful. Again, it is unfortunate that those students were not able to or successful at attending college. But can you say they would have been more successful in college had they stayed in their traditional public school? I doubt it. Your own admission that the rest of the students succeed at various levels proportional to traditional public schools indicates that alternative education schools are AS SUCCESSFUL as traditional public schools. And for those students, maybe they needed a school like The Met. Maybe those students wouldn’t have been as successful in traditional public schools.

Alternative ed is not a magic button. It may work for some but not others—just like any other school. My Resolution to withhold financial support to Mayoral Academies is based on the belief that our taxpayers should NOT be forced to pay for the charter school experience for anyone but their own children. Warwick school district pays over $1.2 million for students to be educated outside the city. If a student decides to return to their city of origin after 1 October of the school year, the money stays with the outside charter school and the Warwick school district must make up the difference. Why is that fair?

So, if I read this correctly, your only complaint is that IF a student returns to their how city after Oct 1, the city doesn’t recover those funds. How many students does this actually apply to and how much money is that? Because I bet the Warwick residents who ARE sending their students to another school in another city of their choosing expect their tax dollars to pay for that education. So while you may be helping the few exceptions, you are not helping the majority who likely stay in the school of their choice.

We have students who live in Warwick and choose to attend parochial schools, which are also charter schools. Should we augment those costs next? 

There is a clear separation of church and state so, should public money go to private schools? Not necessarily. But what do we say to the parent who determines that the public education they are paying for isn’t good enough for their child and they choose to pay out of pocket for those costs? They are literally paying for two educations. Granted we make a similar argument that residents without children still pay for those education costs, but that can be seen as contributing the society as a whole AND those residents are not paying twice for their education. I’m not saying we should allocate public funds for private schools, but I think we need to recognize that these parents have a valid concern and the least we could do is provide the public funding for public charter schools to support the students who choose to attend.

the school system has its problems but you don’t fix them by pulling the kids out and bringing financial resources to charter schools.

Obviously, it doesn’t improve schools to loose monies – but what are the schools doing to FIX the schools? We pour money into schools and seldom get results. If the schools could start implementing some bolder ideas, perhaps learn from some of the successful elements of charters, maybe they would be better. But you cannot tell parents and student, “Just wait, don’t leave your school, it’s going to get better.” Are you seriously going to tell that to your constituents? “Our schools are going to get worse if you don’t attend here, and we lose the funding from your child.” A parent would laugh at you. Their best interest is in their child, and you are NOT taking their child’s best interest into consideration.

 If a child will THRIVE in charter school because of smaller classrooms or specialized instruction, then Warwick should create District charter schools or academies or “school within a school.”

I hate to have a “duh” moment here…but yes! Implement some of the strategies that have worked in charters into your public schools. But where are they? When is this progress going to come? Talk is cheap. Until you ACTUALLY have the programs in schools students want and will thrive with, you can’t make them stay there. DO IT and then you can argue all day long that you  should keep the kids in traditional public schools.

Why bus our kids outside of their neighborhoods? I went to school during a time of forced busing. It was nothing short of a nightmare. Why send Warwick tax dollars to Providence or other municipality schools? How does that improve the issues that made you so unhappy when you attended school so many years ago?

I believe my prior statements answer these questions. We aren’t forcing busing anymore. That argument doesn’t stand. Why send tax dollars to another municipality? So your residents can get the education they desire and deserve and their funds should travel with them. Even if the money stayed in the school district, wouldn’t you equally argue that Warwick shouldn’t have to pay for out of city students?

Because money isn’t the problem. Policy is the problem. Sometimes, teachers and unions are the problem. Sometimes its principals, or superintendents. We have been pouring money into problems for ages and haven’t seen results. When you can implement the strategies that all students need in your schools, make the argument all you want. But until you can accomplish that, don’t deny students and parents the right to put their child’s best interest first and send their child to a school better suited for their success.

I appreciate your comments but as you said, you no longer live in the community where you were educated. I was elected to represent the folks who still live here and while my responsibilities do not extend to educational policy, my fiscal duties remain steadfast to Warwick tax payers. Be well.

I believe I addressed the issues of fiscal responsibility to residents of Warwick above. In your attempt to protect Warwick tax payer funding, you are putting those parents and students who aren’t satisfied with their Warwick public education at a severe disadvantage. And those students and parents don’t have anyone, especially not you representing them. Your role is to ALL residents, not just the ones you are choosing to represent.

A school that isn’t teaching you what you need to know, or a college where you can’t do the work?

Prior posts:

This sounds like pontificating on your part…

You know what is on its last legs? Status quo education

Here is the next in my series of refuting this post of Anthony Cody’s:

He writes:

New and Improved Standards and Tests: Since 2010 we have heard that the answer to the terrible impact of No Child Left Behind was to create better tests, aligned with the new Common Core standards. Modern technology would allow the tests to be taken on computers, which would cleverly adjust themselves to students’ ability levels. These would be tests worth teaching to. Now the tests have arrived, and there are three huge problems. First, the tests themselves are confusing and unworkable, leading a growing number of states to reject them. Second, the tests require a huge investment in technology, since they must be taken online on computers. Third, when students take these tests, proficiency rates are plummeting, leading many to question their legitimacy. How can a test that labels upwards of 80% of students of color below proficient be considered a tool for advancing their civil rights? And when these tests are used to determine who receives a high school diploma, the results could be devastating. When a fourth grader can deliver a devastating statement like this, the Common Core tests cannot long survive.

If the tests and the class room material is mismatched then work on fixing it. Whats the alternative, no tests? I agree there is some sort of bizarre conspiracy among test makers and publishers but we need some kind of test. Why? Same reason we need some kind of standards. Because we are graduating students all over the country with varying levels of actual education. Case in point:

One of my coworkers in Massachusetts (yes I know the “education state”) said that where she grew up in MA, she was in the top of her class. But when she graduated and went to college, she couldn’t do the work and had to take remedial classes. Why would any student who was in the top of her class in high school expect to be in remedial classes in college? That would have to mean that the educational standards in her school district were awfully low. Is that what she deserves?

Maybe that’s why students don’t finish college, because perhaps they went to a school where they thought they were doing their best, where they thought they were getting the “American Dream” education and they did not. Worst of all, you won’t even notice that you are not getting a top quality education until it’s way past too late.

Huge investment in technology. I get that it is expensive and alot of smaller rural districts have trouble funding it. Even normal sized districts with the money still have to decide between big lease contracts or purchasing and software is expensive….but it has to be done and we just have to figure out how to do it. Students need access to computers and the internet to stay on par with the generational changes and to continue to engage students in ways that they expect to. School without computers is boring and kids know it.

Proficiency rates are plummeting because the tests are new and there may need to be some adjustments. But maybe, the kids WEREN’T learning as much as they should have the the tests are point that out. Blame the school district, the curriculum department for that problem. Classic defensive move to deflect from taking responsibility for poor educational standards – is to say that the tests are bad, our kids aren’t underperforming by that much! Maybe, they are. Best to get them on track NOW, ASAP. We’ve already wasted too much of their education.

He writes:

How can a test that labels upwards of 80% of students of color below proficient be considered a tool for advancing their civil rights?

Well, Anthony, I’m not going to speak for the folks whom you’ve taken this reference, but in my opinion, it demonstrates in concrete evidence that we are teaching those students curriculum that is NOT rigorous enough to expect them to compete with every other child. It proves we need to be doing more to properly educate those children. They have not been afforded their civil right to an excellent education.

And when these tests are used to determine who receives a high school diploma, the results could be devastating

This is true, but the heart of the argument doesn’t have anything to do with the tests themselves. It has to do with whether or not tests should be used to determine a diploma. However, if these students may not fare well in college because of their subpar education in their district, maybe one more year will help them achieve that. Or maybe not, maybe their best bet is to….I don’t even know – go back to a school that isn’t teaching you what you need to know, or a college where you can’t do the work? What would you choose?

That’s great that the child was brave enough to speak to the Board of Ed. More students should do it. But her case simply states that the curriculum and tests need to be better aligned, they don’t say anything about the basic use of tests in general.

It’s interesting Anthony, that you offer no solutions, simply hand picked situations that you think are going to sway some of your readers, who hopefully can do their own research after reading your work. However, you seem to strive to keep the “status quo” of course the educational establishment is doing just fine as it is.

 

You know what is on its last legs? Status quo education

My search to find articles to refute has bound upon a plentiful pile at “Living in Dialogue” blog.

Here goes Anthony Cody, yet again…

There is growing evidence that the corporate-sponsored education reform project is on its last legs. The crazy patchwork of half-assed solutions on offer for the past decade have one by one failed to deliver, and one by one they are falling. Can the edifice survive once its pillars of support have crumbled?

No. You may wish it so. But it is not true. Saying it doesn’t make it true. But you know what is on its last legs? Status quo education that your folks have been defending for so long, that is still failing children nation-wide.

Teach For America: This project had as its central premise the idea that what was wrong with the teaching profession was that not enough really smart people were becoming teachers. So we will recruit some high flyers and fill the gaps in high needs schools. And because these folks are sooo smart, they do not need the year or two of preparation that regular old teachers needed – they could learn to crunch data, manage a class and prepare for tests in just five weeks. And if they leave after a couple of years, that’s ok too. They can transform education as the next generation of leaders and policymakers, because they will have brains that classroom experience, and TFA’s no excuses philosophy to guide them.

As Cody continues with his selective history, I pulled this off the TFA website:

Wendy Kopp proposed the idea for Teach For America in her Princeton University undergraduate thesis in 1989.  In 1990, a charter corps of 500 committed recent college graduates joined Teach For America and began fueling the movement to eliminate educational inequity.  Since then, nearly 33,000 participants have reached more than 3 million children nationwide during their two-year teaching commitments. They have sustained their commitment as alumni, working within education and across all sectors to help ensure that children growing up in low-income communities get an excellent education.

Given the magnitude of the educational inequity, we have aggressively worked to grow and deepen our impact.  Our corps members and alumni have helped accelerate the pace of change as teachers, principals, elected officials, social entrepreneurs, and leaders in all fields.  Alongside many others, they have proven that classrooms, schools and now whole communities can transform the life trajectories of all students, regardless of background.

We are energized by the progress we have made over the past 22 years and more hopeful than ever before that one day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.

From this excerpt, I can see that TFA was started to commit recent college graduates who believed in eliminating educational equity to serve as teachers in low income communities. TFA is working the make sure that poverty doesn’t write  a child’s future but that their education does. But because the union movement and it’s friends like Diane Ravitch and Anthony Cody are just now trying to tackle poverty, they can’t admit that anyone else is, because it takes away from the success they can produce. How selfish. That doesn’t sound like its about kids. Sounds like it is about adults.

What is really the difference between a recent college graduate who took 30 more credits in education and a TFA teacher? Only the quality of their instruction. We already know there is a movement to transform schools of education because the teaching profession is lacking a true leader in that field. So, a lackluster 30 credits (which split up over a couple days a week for a couple of hours a day over two semesters) or 5 weeks of intensive training? Sounds like they could be pretty equal to me.

But this year TFA is hitting some serious headwinds. They are finding that recruitment has dropped for some reason, and the organization is even closing its New York training instituteoffice. Perhaps students have been finding out some of the problems with the program, discovering in advance that five weeks is not adequate preparation for the challenge of teaching in a challenging school. Perhaps potential recruits have encountered TFA alums sharing their experiences, or even some of those organizing to resist the program. And word may have leaked out that TFA is not the best vehicle for those concerned with social justice – given that corps members are sometimes being used to replace veteran teachers.

Ok Cody, where is your data, your research to support the crumbling? So what they are closing an office and there are fewer applicants. Those statements say nothing about the quality of the work TFA teachers do, or the success they have with their students. Where is your data proving that students with a TFA teacher perform worse than traditional public school teacher taught students? Unless you can back your statements up with some data, you are just crying wolf.

Since you mentioned veteran teachers….Some are very good. Many are not – either they haven’t kept up with the times, their classroom discipline/management style doesn’t mesh with today’s youth, they haven’t had a professional, thorough evaluation to determine where their professional development needs are (the subsequently they did not receive professional development to meet their needs, which not their fault, but a reality), they won’t learn new education strategies, or the worst, they are just collecting a paycheck and passing out worksheets all day long.

This may not be a majority of teachers – BUT THEY DO EXIST!! and every single moment a student spends with these ineffective teachers is a wasted moment that the child is expecting to receive a quality education and simply is not. Children, parents and the community expect and are paying for high quality education. When are kids aren’t receiving a quality education we are all wasting our money, might as well be flushing it down the toilet. Or, Like in DeKalb County, GA where I live, as long as all the friends and family have a high paying job at the school department, all is right with the world.