Letter-- Budget cuts hurting town schools

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Postby RBarnes » Wed Feb 28, 2007 11:28 am

andysinnh wrote:But teachers are given a student grouping, and they have to make the best of what they're given.


To add to what Andy is saying here, when my sister taught in NY city she had some very rough kids in her class. Most didn't want to be there.

If her pay was based on performance of those kids why would she want to waste her time teaching kids like that? They don't want to learn so subsequently many of them do not learn.

My sister moved on to teach in a very wealthy part of FL where the parents work with their kids and take an interest in their lives. Almost the opposite of what she had to deal with in NY city. As a result she now teaches kids who come out near the top of statewide test averages, score high SAT and ACT scores etc. She's still teaching the same way she did before so it can't really be argued that she's doing a better job.

Another guy I know teachers kids who are problemed. He's good with troubled kids so he takes the worst of the worst. Just because of the nature of the types of kids he teaches, they will never perform to the level as most other kids.

So while I'm all for performanced based pay for teachers I see a hard time on being able to determine how well a teacher is doing since their results are based as much on the kids they have to work with as the teachers themselves.

Not to mention that if teachers have to rely on the performance of the kids for their raises you will see far fewer teachers willing to work with troubled kids.
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Postby uscitizen03054 » Wed Feb 28, 2007 11:32 am

Look - I've been in industry for a long time - and you don't have to sell me on the "pull your weight or you're gone" scenario. But teachers are given a student grouping, and they have to make the best of what they're given.


Many professions have to 'make the best' with what they are given. It is unacceptable to allow teachers to not be held accountable for student progress. Most other professions have to do better than make the best of what they are given or they are gone.

In certain ways, you can compare this to a manager in the private sector who has a group of employees. The big difference is that if you have an employee who causes the group delvierables to drop or doesn't pull their weight, you can fire them or lay them off. Teachers are not able to do this, and as such try to get them to acheive as best they can.


Andy the “best they canâ€
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Postby RD » Wed Feb 28, 2007 11:32 am

Michael Pelletier wrote:What we've seen over 10 years here in Merrimack, as far as I can tell, is a doubling of spending without a doubling of the quality and value of results.

Over the past 10 years, I've seen a doubling of my spending on gasoline, though I drive less than I used to; yet I haven't noticed a doubling of my automobile's performance. Should I blame Ken Coleman for that?
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Postby Loweresttaxes » Wed Feb 28, 2007 12:09 pm

What a silly comparison.
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Postby JMac1000 » Wed Feb 28, 2007 1:10 pm

I am blaming Ken Coleman because my stock portfolio dropped yesterday - :shock:
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Postby andysinnh » Wed Feb 28, 2007 1:41 pm

uscitizen03054 wrote:
Look - I've been in industry for a long time - and you don't have to sell me on the "pull your weight or you're gone" scenario. But teachers are given a student grouping, and they have to make the best of what they're given.


Many professions have to 'make the best' with what they are given. It is unacceptable to allow teachers to not be held accountable for student progress. Most other professions have to do better than make the best of what they are given or they are gone.

In certain ways, you can compare this to a manager in the private sector who has a group of employees. The big difference is that if you have an employee who causes the group delvierables to drop or doesn't pull their weight, you can fire them or lay them off. Teachers are not able to do this, and as such try to get them to acheive as best they can.


Andy the “best they canâ€
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Postby uscitizen03054 » Wed Feb 28, 2007 2:08 pm

Andy likewise I am very troubled by your continued blind support of a failing system! Your refusal to consider accountability in the classroom for measurable results shows you are not willing to have teachers adhere to the same conditions most other working USCITZENS face in the private sector.
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Postby andysinnh » Wed Feb 28, 2007 2:36 pm

uscitizen03054 wrote:Andy likewise I am very troubled by your continued blind support of a failing system! Your refusal to consider accountability in the classroom for measurable results shows you are not willing to have teachers adhere to the same conditions most other working USCITZENS face in the private sector.

I'm willing to listen if you tell me HOW accountability can be done at this level, given that public schools today require that teachers teach all that come (either willingly or kicking-and-screaming). I fully understand private sector accountability and achieving a "hard goal". Trust me - I'm not in blind support here - but am at a loss as to how you reach your endpoint when a missing piece is the infamous cartoon component "and a miracle occurs".....
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Postby uscitizen03054 » Wed Feb 28, 2007 2:46 pm

I'm willing to listen if you tell me HOW accountability can be done at this level, given that public schools today require that teachers teach all that come (either willingly or kicking-and-screaming). I fully understand private sector accountability and achieving a "hard goal". Trust me - I'm not in blind support here - but am at a loss as to how you reach your endpoint when a missing piece is the infamous cartoon component "and a miracle occurs".....


Andy it is refreshing you are at least willing to listen. I would advocate some quantitative measure be established for each student. For the majority of kids it would be test results however, some students should have other metrics added to their list such as a combination of attendance, oral examinations etcetera. Meeting the measurement criteria would result in some financial benefit for the their teachers, exceeding the metrics would provide a greater reward while failure would merit a personnel action.
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Postby andysinnh » Wed Feb 28, 2007 2:54 pm

uscitizen03054 wrote:Andy it is refreshing you are at least willing to listen. I would advocate some quantitative measure be established for each student. For the majority of kids it would be test results however, some students should have other metrics added to their list such as a combination of attendance, oral examinations etcetera. Meeting the measurement criteria would result in some financial benefit for the their teachers, exceeding the metrics would provide a greater reward while failure would merit a personnel action.

First - I think that if you look back I'm more willing to listen than a lot of folks, it's just that at times your positions are very confrontational, so it by default creates the deflector shields in the upright position - and that's part of what you were seeing.

But it's interesting you talk about test results for some portion, but also other metrics for the complete picture. I agree that this is a start - but also contend that this is the EXACT sort of measurement that should be used to compare school districts instead of testing alone, as it measures not only the academic level but also the "helping kids to learn and grow" aspect as well. After all, the quality of a school district is certainly reliant to a huge extent to the quality of its teachers. So in your consistent push to get "bang for your buck" in the school district (as compared to others), don't you agree it should be more than just test scores??

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Postby RFTO1111 » Wed Feb 28, 2007 3:15 pm

I do not believe that at all about troubled kids that want to smoke pot or be with their boy/girfriends or whatever excuse you want to use. I do believe every classroom has their share, and perhaps more in places like the inner cities of NY, but I would say on average for every classroom size of lets say 25 perhaps maybe 2 or 3 may be disruptive. In other words a small percent. And lets say over the years I am sure the school has a pretty good idea of who is and who is not the so called trouble makers. I also assume these same 2 or 3 kids per class are the same in all the classes they take. So in essence, you could base the performance on a teacher of lets say the 22 remaining students that are succeeding. Lets say the teacher has 5 classes a day with 3 bad eggs in each class. Thats 15 kids that would be thrown out of the evaluation process for that semester and or school year. On the same token, if those 22 students in that class are all performing sub par in a particular teachers class but doing well in all their other classes, then that would also say something about that particular teacher. Andynh, to say there is no way of evaluating teachers is simply a cop out at best. I am sure people much smarter than I can come up with ways to evaluate each individual teachers performance. Not to do so is an injustice to the kids being taught in any school. I also believe to many kids are passed onto the next grade with sub par performance. I would have no problem failing any kid if I was a teacher and keeping him back a grade until they got it right. You keep a kid in the 8th grade for 2 or 3 years and maybe just maybe they will get the message, or more importantly their parents will get the message and straighten these kids out. Obviously there are kids that are just to dumb to grasp much of anything. And again, I would hope over the years the schools would know that these kids are just not capable of learning what most can. That of course is the exception, and other alternatives need to be looked at, whether it be private tutoring, different options, IE trade type schooling. You cannot have a one glove fits all for every kid in school, on the same token you cannot cater to the small minority of kids that just refuse to learn. Way back in the dark ages when I was a student, I knew who the good teachers were, and who the bad teachers were. There were teachers I had with subjects I liked, and were terrible teachers, there were also teachers I had with subjects I didn't like but were good teachers. So to say you cannot come up with some way of evaluating teachers fairly and equitably is nonsense.
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Postby Jeannine Stergios » Wed Feb 28, 2007 3:33 pm

RFT

You made some excellent points and I agree with you.
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Postby RBarnes » Wed Feb 28, 2007 3:35 pm

RFTO1111 wrote:So to say you cannot come up with some way of evaluating teachers fairly and equitably is nonsense.


RFTO, there is a way but is nothing to do with the test scores etc.

It's called privatization. Schools which the parents themselves feel are benefiting their children will get the business while schools unable to show results will lose their business. And since parents know their children best, the parents can determine if their child doing as well as they suspect or getting the attention they expect.

For instance, if a parent has a troubled child, that child may score C's and D's but the parent can see the school as successful because the teachers are willing to work with their child and try to see them through learning each subject.

Likewise a parent of an all A's child may see a school as failing because it isn't challenging enough to their child and they would like to see them pushed further.

Scores on tests alone do not paint that whole picture.
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Postby Michael Pelletier » Wed Feb 28, 2007 3:40 pm

andysinnh wrote:I'm willing to listen if you tell me HOW accountability can be done at this level, given that public schools today require that teachers teach all that come (either willingly or kicking-and-screaming). I fully understand private sector accountability and achieving a "hard goal". Trust me - I'm not in blind support here - but am at a loss as to how you reach your endpoint when a missing piece is the infamous cartoon component "and a miracle occurs".....

Image

The only "miracle" that would be necessary here is slashing through the thorny snarl of premises that entangle the education process in this country, over the strenuous objections of a 150-year-old entrenched, rent-seeking bureaucracy.

Your premise, for example, is that schools must teach even those dragged kicking and screaming - either at all, or in the same classroom as the willing. No wonder it seems like a hard problem to you - Horace Mann laid out this framework for failure 150 years ago when he jammed the Prussian system down the throat of Massachusetts, and you're accepting it without question.

Seeking to replace the controlling functions of the local aristocracy, the Prussian court attempted to instill social obedience in the citizens through indoctrination. Every individual had to become convinced, in the core of his being, that the King was just, his decisions always right, and the need for obedience paramount.

As the German philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte, a key influence on the system, said, "The schools must fashion the person, and fashion him in such a way that he simply cannot will otherwise than what you wish him to will."

That also raises another question: why are these kids kicking and screaming in the first place? Is there a chance they wouldn't kick and scream if they had some other alternative than the government-imposed structure to choose from? Maybe they're kicking and screaming because in their heart of hearts they recognize the feculent rot at the core of the Prussian system of education.
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Postby RFTO1111 » Wed Feb 28, 2007 3:52 pm

RB, I agree with most of what you and MP say as far as privatization. But I am also a realist. You and I both know that privatization is not going to happen anytime soon, let alone making Merrimack Schools private. So we have to speak in the present. I know you still have little ones, and I can also almost guarantee you, if you live in Merrimack until they are 18 they will be graduating from MMH a non private school unless you send them to a private school of your choice paying for it out of your pocket. There is nothing I would like to see more than a private entity, coming to town, buying up land and building a private school on it. But even if that did happen, who could afford it while still paying taxes on the public schools in this town. Thats where vouchers would have to come in, and I don't believe that is going to happen anytime soon either. So again, as good an idea as private schools are, we have to be realists and come up with a way to evaluate teachers in the world the way it is, not how we wish it was. Frankly, I think a major step in solving this problem at least for the public school systems is to break up the teachers unions, that would be a start. And again, wishful thinking and not happening anytime soon either.
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