Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Second Editorial

There is little comfort for me in the unanimous editorials by the Journal staff that come out bi-weekly about teacher evaluation. Much closer to me are the excellent staff at the school where I work, that have made education their daily business, and the worry that placing an already proven faulty evaluation system, on top of an already extremely flawed system of testing, is entrenching our public monies into publishing companies that already have billion dollar stakes in education in our country. Think “Bank of America”, education style.

The promise of sub-contracting education is a lesser promise; we are selling our democracy out piecemeal. I wish I could say it is to the highest bidder, because at least then we might end up with a better product, but this is not the case, and the product is faulty at best. We are selling our soul here, and it goes to the lowest bidder.

Every penny we spend on publishers and people outside the state is less money developing our expertise and investment in the field. Teachers should design curriculum and tests, and be given resources to do so. The rhetoric being used to rationalize bypassing the democratic process and push this out to the schools is ironic to the informed. The collective groan coming from teachers comes from a place of knowing that the countries who do better than the U.S. in every measure of education, are going in the exact opposite direction, with less emphasis on testing.

I do look forward to next week’s editorial by the Journal staff. Although I’m pretty sure I know the substance of it, I’m hoping they’ll get a little creative with the content. Maybe this time make a limerick or a haiku.

Sincerely,
Jeff Tuttle
Monte Vista Elementary

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My Esteemed Colleagues

Susana Martinez has officially declared war on educators.  It came out in the mail, in a glossy flier that asks why so many teachers are performing well under the current evaluation system,  and there are radio ads, both of these are tied to a non-profit under the employ of the national GOP, put together concurrently with our rally.

We shall have to do what we do best.  Educate.  We will have to teach our media to be investigative.  There are very few inquisitive reporters, but we can help.  Respond to every post in every media outlet with intelligent, referenced answers.  We will have to be careful of spelling, and our critics will not.  We will have to be mindful of tone, and our critics will not.  They will dangle their participles in front of us, we must not dangle ours back.  We must not be tempted to become low-minded.  We must help each other, and our tone to our most hateful adversaries, we must calmly bring them to a different understanding.  When you see an error in my posts, please let me know.

We shall have to be creative.  We can project things on blank billboards and walls, but our message must bring people to understanding.  Jargon and acronyms will not educate the public about our cause.  We can pass out QR code fliers that reference intelligent blogs.  There are a bunch, send me links, and I will post them here.  We can canvas the streets in our neighborhoods.

 

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We Must Have Scared the Powers That Be…

They are starting to play, wanting to discredited these untrustworthy teachers. We’ve just been in it for ourselves all along! A new non-profit was registered and has started a website (newmexicocompetes.org), but came from a Republican Attorney in D.C.:
http://www.sfreporter.com/santafe/blog-4507-nonprofit-with-new-mexico-name-emerges-out-of-dc.html

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Filed under Education, Governor Martinez, Hanna Skandera, politics, Politics in education

Rally, 10/22

Here is close to what I said:

First of all, thanks to our representatives who have struggled in the face of the selling out of public education to keep this of the people.

The PED may need to change its name to CED, because it is the corporate education department, not the public education department.

We have stared into the eyes of those who are the future of New Mexico, and the twinkles that were once in their eyes have been filled in…with bubbles.

We are here today to request a respectful conversation. Teachers need to be allowed to speak earnestly in public for the sake of education, without the threat of dismissal for insubordination.

We are here because we have been removed from the conversation. Our Constitution says the voice of the educator will be heard as the voice of education in NM. What we have instead is a person who has a deep history with corporations, but none with education.

We are because authentic conversation has been replaced with a sales pitch. They call the fundamentals of education the “status quo”. Those fundamentals are yes, teacher effectiveness, but also smaller classrooms so that we can be effective, and the last bit of the “status quo’ is instruction time.

We are here because we are throwing every resource we have at one of those fundamentals, and saying that isn’t the status quo. The sum of education is not test prep.

We are here because when the legislature, representatives from both parties, in both the house and the senate, proposed a more sensible education law last year, it got vetoed.

We are here because the system that is now installed, was installed by bypassing the legislature. Politicians who believe their own agenda is more important than the agenda of democracy have forgotten their own job. They were not elected to see how cleverly they could circumvent Democracy. They have forgotten that they were trusted to be the guardians of that process, and that the changes they make must be respectful of that process.

Teachers- we have not forgotten our job. We are not here for the pay. We are here as stewards of education. We are here because not only have we not been represented, but more importantly, children and learning are not represented. That’s the reason our constitution requires an educator, to make sure that in our society, that those closest to the greatest resource of our state, can have a say in what affects them.
We are here to call out to the public, to warn you that our state is headed in a terrible direction.

Filling in bubbles solves no real problems in our state. It wastes valuable instruction time, and puts our children to work for corporations whose interest is not education, but their own profits. Free our children.

If you want something to grow you don’t just measure it. You nourish them. That is not the status quo. It is wisdom. Thanks.

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What The Hell is Going on There?

This is the question my brother, Jon, asked after my billionth Facebook post about education in New Mexico. I thought I would use the opportunity to create a synopsis of our previous episodes in the drama that has become education in New Mexico:

Soooo… our current Secretary of Education Designee, (because she doesn’t actually qualify for the real job), instituted a rule (because the law didn’t make it through our State Legislature, so she and the Guv bypassed the Legislature completely), to soak up all the copious spare time the pesky teachers and administrators have, so they can have their (awesomely huge) salaries tied to testing, even though the closest correlation to anything that testing has, is still economic status. The Guv and her sidekick are therefore throwing every last resource the state has on teacher evaluation, because that will help make sure we remain at the bottom, which happened on her watch, here and here.

Actually, just 2 million for the state, 8-15 million for our district to implement, (plus all the other districts statewide…) a nice system from a company (that hasn’t yet gotten it up and running…) that is just coincidentally connected to our our Secretary of Education Designee.

Then we can finally fire teachers, that we don’t have enough of anyway, (we are at roughly 10% full-time long term subs, currently), so we can replace them with lesser trained people, which will be all well and good, because, according to Ms. Skandera, who has not spent a day in the classroom, “everyone is a teacher”.

That is it in a nutshell.

Teachers are upset and are going to demonstrate, here is more information, and an organizational site.

 

https://tomorrowtrees.com/2013/08/29/skandera-not-legally-qualified/

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Filed under Education, education solutions, Governor Martinez, Hanna Skandera, politics, Politics in education, Uncategorized

At the End of a Career

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I would like you to meet John Malin, you should know him if you don’t already.  He has taught here at Monte Vista for 34 years, and had a couple more left in him, at least.  His boys went to school here while he taught here, which is one of the great perks of teaching he would tell you; to be there in the day and see the unfolding of the lives of your children.  There are many, many people who seek him out, to talk to him.

Mr. Malin is retiring this year, he told me as he pointed to pile of papers referring to our evaluation system.  “This,” he said, flapping the papers, “has nothing to do with teaching students.”  Each year since the No Child Left Behind act, people with no education experience have tried to insert themselves into the classroom.  Their incompetence during the Bush years made them unthreatening, but they are getting better at coming between the teacher and student.

John is leaving after much success, but is facing the latest evaluation system by which administrators have all been asked to ensure that ten to twenty percent of their staff are “minimally effective” or less.  Not by the virtue of their teaching skills, but by just playing the bell curve.   Teachers who are at schools that are failing will themselves be ranked as failing.  Administrators are asked not to allow too many of their staff be “exemplary”, and those who do will themselves be ranked low.

We will be labeled ineffective because our schools were, and fulfill the political agenda of these people.  In keeping up with the paper dragon they will have us feed, we will actually become ineffective.

But back to John.  You will remember him, because he is a good teacher.  He is going away.  Good teachers are going away because we are gearing the whole system to the lowest common denominator.  Yes, we need to evaluate, support, and intervene with teachers who need to find their way, but to intervene with the whole of education is an incredible waste of resources.

Once we have driven John and all the others like him away, we will have more long term substitutes, a position requiring less expertise, instead of people who have committed to the profession.  What then? That critical question is absent from this process:  what then?

Goodbye John Malin.  Thank you for your incredible career, and the chance I too, had to learn from you.  Thanks for your career-long investment into our community.  The true community is grateful for your incredible service, and these political climbers, Hanna Skandera and Susana Martinez, who have inserted themselves into your good work, have no idea what they are doing.  You deserve the fanfare that these politicians enjoy, but I know you wouldn’t want it anyway.  On behalf of our community, I apologize that somehow these strangers have gotten into our school, and changed your plans, and taken the experience of the students in the years you would have stayed.  It makes me sad for those students, for our staff, and for myself.

Your awesome ‘stache is in its glory, the chairs are up on the table,  the room is waiting to be vacuumed,  and this May, the door will close on your most excellent career.

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Washington Post

21 questions about school reform

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