Tom wrote and said the current discussion is about a fair and comprehensive teacher evaluation system, and so I’ll weigh in there-
I think the purposes evaluation are important to consider. Using evaluation as a way to oust the turkeys will never be practical- it will be bound up in endless bureaucracies and litigation, and will get the “wrong guy” when it does succeed, just like the death penalty. The de facto assumption is that we need evaluation rather than development. But most teachers don’t need to be fired. They need, they want- development. It is better to have an assets model rather than a deficits model, just like in a classroom. Its better not to gear the whole system around the lowest common denominator, just like in a classroom.
If accountability and development is the goal of evaluation, then we should just skip to that. So here’s my perfect world:
If classes had a student or new teacher, a middle of the career teacher, and a veteran, or as it is, maybe a level 1, level 2, and level 3 teacher, there could be a culture of exchange that would benefit everyone.
I have been in a unique situation for several years, in an inclusion team. 27 students, a special ed teacher, a regular ed teacher, and an assistant. This has built in accountability and development. More importantly the PTR is excellent, so it is great for the students. That is the goal of all of this. We should cut to the chase.
In finland, this is the model. Using existing buildings in their current capacity with better PTRs is a much more economical plan than the unsustainable model of the abandonment of schools that are not performing.
Tom also mentioned a general discussion of the current state of education. Teaching is on a precipice between profession and hourly job. The resignation of letter of Gerlad J. Conti in Syracuse, New York made a big splash on April 6th, which ends with “I realize that I am not leaving my profession, in truth, it has left me. It no longer exists.” – Certainly a death knell for teaching. I am not there yet. In fact, I am here. Our presence is hope, and we are charged with not only hoping but embodying hope. To teach is to believe there is a future, and if you don’t believe there is a future, you must yield to those who still carry a torch.
At the advent of the $79.00 nook, I wrote Governor Martinez, asking that as a state we consider using all of the already free curricula that is online, and fill in the gaps with our own talent here. We could create printable versions for schools that suffer still from the digital divide, but at least have more money to close it, and pay teachers while developing expertise and professional investment, rather than paying publishers more and more. I did not get far with that endeavor. I set out to help create a free library of lesson plans, which would be stitched into freely printable textbooks or digital “techbooks”. I started a website at : http://librelibros.org two years ago. I have gotten exactly zero lesson plans so far.
I decided I need to create the first one as a template. It will be a starting point for new professionals, but not something to pledge fidelity to. Something to build from, change, swap out. An open-source, integrated textbook or “techbook”.
I decided to use the Creative Commons <http://creativecommons.org/> license as a way to publish my work, to keep it freely available, and to set that as part of a template. APS spends millions of dollars on programs that end in controversy <http://www.abqjournal.com/main/2012/11/18/news/11m-aps-book-deal-stirred-controversy.html> , almost every time. States spend more than half of their general budget on education, and whenever it is mixed with private interest there is always at least rumors of a conflict of interest, and often worse. If we could create a free bank of textbooks and printable materials, we would be really changing the system at its core. Wikipedia <http://www.wikipedia.org/> style. Khanacademy <http://www.khanacademy.org/> style. Elevating education to its purest form, free of entanglement. Its a pipe dream. Its public education.
The aim (of education) must be the training of independently acting and thinking individuals who, however, can see in the service to the community their highest life achievement.