Public schools

What Teachers Don't Want You to Learn

How awful they can be.

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Brian Davison had to go to court to pry loose state data about student performance in the public schools. Now teachers are going to court to keep him from sharing it.

Davison, a Loudoun County, Virginia resident, sought data on student growth percentiles (SGPs), a measure of how well students progress from year to year. The Department of Education didn't want to release it, and the Virginia Education Association didn't want it to. But last January Richmond Circuit Court Judge Melvin Hughes rejected the argument that releasing the data would necessarily compromise student privacy. He ordered the data released, with identifying information redacted.

Teachers don't like that one bit, because data about student progress can be used to measure teacher performance. And if there is one thing the public education system does not like, it's competition—either with private schools (through school choice), or with alternative public schools (through charter schools) or among teachers themselves (through merit pay). The education establishment is dedicated to the proposition that all mentors are created equal, and any suggestion that some might be better than others is anathema.

That's why the Los Angeles Times provoked widespread fury by publishing the ratings for 11,500 teachers in the Los Angeles district. On its interactive website you can look up teachers by name. You also can look at the performance of specific schools. The head of the L.A. teachers' union was "outraged." The president of the National Education Association said "it is unconscionable to evaluate teachers in the public square." The quality of the evaluations themselves became a subject of debate. Some people even blamed the newspaper when a teacher committed suicide.

But John Butcher, a Richmond resident who writes extensively about the public schools on his blog, CrankysBlog, told the Washington Post that, using Virginia's data, "he found a teacher whose students on average ranked in the bottom 1 percent in student growth percentiles. 'Any kid who is stuck with one of those teachers is going to have a problem,' he said. 'Why would you want to hide that information from parents?'"

The answer, at least for public consumption, is that parents are too dumb to be trusted with it. "I feel that the parent might… get the wrong impression of a teacher if they don't completely understand the data," said Loudoun School Board member Debbie Rose.

There probably are other reasons. In one post on his blog, Butcher points out that despite poor student scores, according to the Richmond school system's own reports, "only 0.72 percent of the items in Richmond teachers' evaluations showed some aspect of failure to meet or exceed expectations in 2011."

Butcher says this is "absurd in the abstract; in light of the available data it is baldly mendacious." The SGP data he was able to obtain show that while "Richmond has some outstanding math teachers," they are outweighed by under-performers. The picture in reading is more bleak: 109 out of 205 reading teachers are below the state mean, he finds; 52 are more than one standard deviation below the mean, and 16 are more than two standard deviations below the mean. (A standard deviation is the average distance from the average; if the average is 50 and the standard deviation is 2, a score of 46 is two standard deviations below the mean.)

All of that is a complicated way to say that many Richmond teachers may be doing a much worse job than they are getting credit for. Granted, the SGP is an imperfect metric, and the state's Department of Education has replaced it with a new one based on "value tables." Still, it's possible to adjust for flaws in a given metric. You can make it weigh less for teachers with less experience, or take a three-year-average to adjust for one year when a class has several slow learners. But at least using a data-based measurement has some connection to empirical evidence— unlike, say, a subjective classroom observation.

So it's not surprising that the VEA and several local teachers' guilds went to court a few days ago seeking injunctions against the Virginia Department of Education, Davison, and Butcher. The guilds want the court to stop VDOE from releasing any more of the data Davison and Butcher have requested. And they want the courts to stop Davison and Butcher from publishing any of the data VDOE has already handed over. Releasing such information, the guilds say, could "be used to irreparably harm (teachers) in the profession."

Not releasing it, however, could irreparably harm students, along with parents and taxpayers who would be kept in the dark about which teachers are doing a great job—and which ones aren't.

This column originally appeared at the Richmond Times-Dispatch

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  1. How about prosecuting a few teachers unions under the RICO statute?

    1. I like this idea, except that the RICO statute would become even more of a political weapon than the Democrats are trying to use it as now (to beat down “climate change deniers” in their words).

      The only clean solution is to privatize all schools.

      1. One way to destroy an enemy’s weapon is to use it yourself; thus the Germans in WW I developed their own tanks after the British introduced the first ones, and the British and French began using chemical weapons after the Germans used them first. It’s also the principle behind Mutual Assured Destruction.

        So I say use RICO just as the progressives have, against them. After spluttering for a while, they will either double down and be doubled down against, or they will move to narrow RICO usage.

        I agree with privatization. So much of what government does is unnecessarily monopolized by being a government function. Cable TV is a fine example — cities issue monopoly grants and the feds bust the cable companies for behaving like monopolies. I bet 90% of government could be privatized without breaking a sweat. Jesse Walker’s book on radio (Rebels on the Air) includes a fascinating chapter on radio history, which if rusty memory serves, shows that frequency allocation began as an entirely private list maintenance task, and wasn’t fully co-opted by the government until the network cronies bribed congress critters to take it over in 1934. If radio frequency allocation was handled privately for so long, even including corporate commercial broadcasters, I have serious doubts that there is anything private entities can’t handle better.

        1. Fight fire with…

          ..hmmm…

          …help me out here…

      2. There is a military analog here.
        Use the enemies tactics against them. They use those tactics because they cannot find a way to defeat them.

      3. Euthanizing the progressives would also solve a lot of problems. On an unrelated note, Soylent Green supplies would also be plentiful.

    2. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail.
      http://www.realcash44.com

    3. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail.
      http://www.realcash44.com

      1. the scam so nice they spammed it twice

  2. I wonder if these performance ratings take into account the fact that some students are idiots ans others still just don’t give a shit.

    1. I suggest you do a bit of research regarding the LA ratings.

      1. I may just do that. If they’re not taking into account factors beyond their control, I don’t think it’s right to make it a be-all-end-all metric.

        1. To make it simple, the LA ratings controlled about as well as you can, given the limits of ‘experimenting’ on kids.
          The result was pretty clear: Good teachers make a difference and rotten teachers are rotten and should be fired.

          1. A “good” math teacher (Top 20%) can teach 1.5 years of math in one year.

            A “bad” math teacher (bottom 20%) can only teach 0.5 years of math in one year.

            Now imagine you had two bad math teachers in a row. Good luck recovering from that deficit.

            (data from Econtalk with Eric Hanushek)

            1. True. Bad math teachers are horrible. On many occasions I have successfully taught a friend or employee’s school age child a mathematical concept successfully in 5-10 minutes what their teacher could not in an entire class period.

              1. Teaching math is hard.

                1. I’m usually pretty anti-teacher’s excuses, but the fact you know the friend or employee gives you some insight into their learning process, which generally speaking is close to the learning process that their kid will use (generally speaking because I learn like my grandfather, not like either of my parents).

                  1. Also, you’re working with the kid one-on-one, and not as one of a class of 20+ children, each of which has their own learning process. This is why there is really no substitute for active and involved parents. And where you get progressive nonsense like claiming that reading to your kids unfairly disadvantages other kids.

        2. There have been a million attempts to try and create an “even playing field” for public-school performance-measuring-metrics.

          That includes things like weighting scores based on income level of student households; incoming performance-levels versus outgoing levels (e.g. “net performance gain” rather than absolute scores); handicapping for class sizes, level of teacher-post-graduate training, school budget per-pupil and so on.

          Everything is always rejected/blocked/complicated to the point of uselessness. Which is the point.

          My first jobs out of college were basically data-collection & research/analysis across a wide range of areas. Most things involved using at least some public-sector data sources.

          Something i came to learn was that “Data Collection” in the public sphere suffers from a variety of institutional quirks. Particularly when the data are things intended to ‘measure’ performance/efficiency/’progress’ at any given bureaucracy’s nominal task.

          One very-popular one across all institutions was, ‘every 5-7 years, redefine the categories being measured/change the method of collection’. The consequence of which is that its almost impossible to find any 10+ year data set measuring ‘results’ which aren’t hopelessly muddled by the underlying methodology changes. And the changes are designed to elude easy ‘normalization’.

          The fact that these changes seem to occur during every other election cycle is entirely coincidental, of course.

          1. Interesting. Not surprising, really, but interesting. Thanks for the inside story.

    2. Yeah, and there is parental involvement and intelligence as well. However, that “factors beyond their control” cuts both ways though. If you can’t do anything about it, then giving you more money is pointless.

      1. A point. And I’m not saying such ratings should be abandoned completely, just that the shouldn’t be the sole factor.

        1. Yeah, there are a lot of challenges put in place by the administration as well. And of course disipline is no longer allowed so 90% of the time is spent dealing with the one asshole kid with the asshole parents and 10% is spent teaching the other 30 kids. There are a lot of challenges but if you dont evaluate results, you can’t see what works.

        2. Has anyone said that? I know that the article said it shouldn’t, and that it was reporting on efforts to completely hide this information.

          1. Well, you’re right about that. But people still tend to just look at the numbers and not think any further than that. AJB is right that some method is needed to quantify performance but, again, I think that the numbers should be used in addition to other factors to effectively evaluate teachers.

            1. Were you familiar with the way NCLB was implemented?

              1. Probably would have helped if I did. Let me take a wild-ass guess and say “badly”.

                1. Well, I’m not super-familiar myself, i was just curious if you knew about it, because your complaint is basically identical to what was said about its method.

                  Basically it was a federal law attempting to impose “consistent” forms of reporting across all types of public schools. Anytime something needs to be super-consistent & uniform, relevant details get elided in favor of data-collecting convenience.

                  but at the same time there was unified institutional pushback on the whole process. Basically, it was seen as a “foot in the door” of metric collection which, if allowed, would result in a massive loss of power by local school boards and the teachers unions.

                  Its an interesting subject because it was probably the most comprehensive attempt at “performance measuring” in US educational history. My teacher friends have mixed views about whether it would actually ever have been very useful (had it worked “right”) or not, same as their view on Common Core.

                  a summary

                  1. Fascinating. If nothing else it’s a good argument for keeping education as local as possible.

                    1. keeping education as local as possible.

                      That would be at the level of the voluntary association between a family and the institution they choose to send their child to. Slightly more local than the city/county school district level I assume you were referring to.

    3. Even the kids who have learned will “christmas tree” the assessment tests because they hate taking standardized tests. Sorry, but this is not the way to evaluate teacher effectiveness.

      1. If this was true how do you explain NAEP results that show for example that 42% of fourth graders scored proficient or advanced and over 80% scored with at least basic proficiency. Are their standardized test answers coincidentally shaped like a Christmas tree? Are students just amazing guessers? Are you a teacher who is upset your crappy work performance can be measured?

        1. I am a non-union teacher who works at a public charter school. In each job I’ve had my students score higher on state tests than with the teacher I replaced. That said, teachers actually know more about this job than non-teachers, but for some reason everyone is an expert on education just because they were once a student.

          It is not just teachers who understand that these tests do not measure what they purport to measure. One recent study found that just offering kids money as a reward for good scores significantly increased their performance. I think that directly paying kids for test scores is not the right lesson, but the point is that if they had been trying their best the first time the money wouldn’t help.

          Until you’ve been at the front of a classroom for a few years, you really don’t have the experience to have a wise opinion about how teachers should be evaluated.

          1. They should be evaluated like everyone else based on results. Your “Christmas tree” comment is frankly nonsense that is easily shown to be invalid by the fact that standardized test results show no evidence of this behavior. You can engage in logical fallacies and appealing to authority all you like but I don’t need to be a mechanic to recognize my car wasn’t fixed and I don’t need to be a teacher to recognize your collective results suck. Really you simply seem hurt that you are being evaluated based on objective results like the rest of the world and you were found wanting.

            If you don’t like it stop sucking at your job.

            1. “standardized test results show no evidence of this behavior.”

              The fact that many kids score proficient is not evidence against against the claim that kids don’t bomb standardized tests for the heck of it. I have seen it. It’s not necessarily a christmas tree though. One time a kid got called back to redo his test because he bubbled in a t-rex!

              We are all responsible for the educational outcomes of our children. Teachers play a key role, but the effects of culture and parenting are foremost. The kneejerk disrespect toward teachers is part of the problem. Bad teachers should be removed, but you would never see such arrogant disrespect for the profession in the countries that consistently outscore us.

              1. Who cares how other countries feel toward teachers? Respect is earned, and teachers have a well earned reputation of being overpaid, over coddled and having one of the worst work ethics in professional America. This is entirely the result of poor performance, and until that changes, your profession doesn’t rate for public respect.

                And to your first comment that’s it’s unfair for people to be experts about teachers just because they’ve been students, is pure nonsense. I’m not even an amateur chef, but I’m a complete fucking expert on whether a burger I order tastes like shit or not. And your burgers, sir… taste like pure fucking shit.

                Further, casual study of important figures in human innovation, reveals a startling tend of self education. The theory that your profession isn’t worthless, seems very precarious.

      2. No one hates taking tests, they hate taking tests for which they are unprepared.

      3. Regardless, you have to have a metric from which to access how affective you are. The idea is that if you suck you would then analyze why and take steps for self-improvement. All the standardized test were because we couldn’t figure out how good students were.

        This has come full circle, and I find it amusing.

    4. An argument against government schools (I prefer the term to “public schools”). Parochial and private schools have the option of expelling or holding back students who are unable to compete, are uninterested in learning, or are disruptive to the education of other students. Government schools, which suffer under the mandate to educate all students, must keep the worst students in the classrooms, undermining the education of the competitive students in the classroom. If you eliminate the non-competitive students, teachers metrics will probably go up, and the grades of the remaining students will almost certainly go up.

      1. Getting rid of the dead weight students means significant funding evaporates…

        Department of education, school districts, teachers unions, all have too much interest in that $$$ that pays to keep the retarded dipshit kids. (And before someone gets pissy, I am referring to stupid retards not handicapped retards, there is a difference.)

        They’ve cultivated a system that rewards piss poor performance at the funding stage, and they’re all culpable and corrupted by it. (And by ‘they’, I’m referring to retards in the education industry, not handicapped retards, there is a difference.)

  3. “The president of the National Education Association said “it is unconscionable to evaluate teachers in the public square.””

    I remain amazed this person made this comment without shame and and/or collapsing from laughter.
    Imagine having an employee evaluated by the employee’s bosses! Unthinkable!

    1. Also I would take their name “National Education Association’ a little more seriously if their top three ways to improve education was not “increase teachers pay”, “increase teacher retirement”, and “reduce teacher workload” which is what a union would suggest but not a education association.

      1. It’s a left-leaning group. Using names or words that are purposely misleading has always been part of the strategy. Of course, it’s a union whose first loyalty is to dues-paying members.

        1. It’s a left-leaning group. Using names or words that are purposely misleading has always been part of the strategy.

          Ahem…

          Patriot Act

          1. Congress is also a left leaning group. Even a GoP congress.

            1. Plus, they sure do like their acronym laws.

      2. The Illinois union actually ran advertisements boasting of those goals. Somehow they didn’t see how shameful it was

  4. I feel that the parent might… get the wrong impression of a teacher if they don’t completely understand the data,” said Loudoun School Board member Debbie Rose.

    What exactly is the relevance of Ms. Rose’s feelings?

  5. The typical argument I’ve heard against judging teachers on merit is that it is impossible to quantify, being that not all students are equal. Not only that, but I’ve also been told that bad students are a product of bad parenting, not bad teaching. No matter what, it isn’t the fault of the teachers. After all, they’ve given up the possibility of making a lot of money to become teachers. Their intentions are pure. They’re public servants. They are model altruists. It can’t be their fault.

    1. Then they are in effect admitting they have little to no effect on the children, and thus, it would be equivalent to give our children to gorillas to babysit than to give them to teachers.

      In the same way, Democrats who blame Booooooosh for our economic woes admit that Obama has been impotent in fixing the economy. Not exactly something to brag about, same as with the teachers.

      1. As we have seen in at least one instance, gorillas can be better-trusted to look after a child than parents.

        1. Or perhaps not…
          http://in.reuters.com/article/…..NKCN0YL1RO

      2. So you really think it’s the job of a teacher to be a psychologist or social worker? That’s how you would measure teacher effectiveness?

    2. Math is very easy to test, as are other subjects. Its just a lie.

      “Teaching to the test” is not a big deal if the test is math or reading comprehension.

  6. What Teachers Don’t Want You to Learn

    I’m just guessing here by the recent results they seem to have achieved.

    1. History
    2. Math
    3. English
    4. The Constitution and Bill of Rights
    5. Logic
    6. Reason
    7. Demographics
    8. Science

    I could go on…

    1. Overall, I’m convince that they don’t want them to learn competition. Part of an overall effort to kill capitalism. You see that with grades, sports, ideals.

      1. And then send them out into a world in which they must compete. Nice plan, teachers.

        1. On the positive side, it’s less competition for my wife and I while we’re still working and for our offspring. Of course, then we have to bear the tax burden as well which will eventually be not worth it. Fucking commies.

          1. Now you see why I take the guaranteed minimum income thing seriously. We’re producing an entire generation with a majority of them unemployable. Just scrap the entire welfare state bureaucracy and write generation idiocracy a fucking check. They can stay home and fap to Bernie rallies on Youtube.

            1. hmm. If nothing else, then the coffee shop can hire a 65-year old and I may actually be able to get an order prepared correctly.

      2. The problem with competition is that it tends to promote self-sufficiency, personal responsibility, ambition, things like that. Those are dangerous lessons to a statist.

        1. It’s about promoting equality. But that doesn’t mean what the sheeples think it means. It means everyone is equally poor, except the ruling class who will be immensely wealthy, which they deserve having done all the hard work of making everyone else poor. What is lost on all of them is that they have actually created a situation that has resulted in worse inequality and a much lower standard of living for everyone below the ruling elite class. These people are monsters, devoid of morals and principles.

          1. Are you sure the result is “lost on them”?

            1. Not the leaders, although I still think that even though they realize it, they think it’s some sort of divine justice that they’ve achieved by virtue of their great moral superiority. So, it’s lost on them, through flawed thinking.

          2. So basically they take The Hunger Games as an instructional method without ever considering that the outer districts could possibly realize they’re getting across deal.

            Plus, you know, most of them would nuke Texas if they thought they could get away with it.

            1. Try and cross this you illegals!

            2. The Hunger Games? Is that an analogy just for the teen girls and beta pussy babies who watch that bullshit? Dude, this is your reality check, get a gym membership like today and start doing some bench presses. Just don’t go too extreme, stay off the ‘roids, cause that will land you right back in ‘sad loser adult with shrunken balls who parses weak analogies from stupid, unwatchable little girl movies’-land.

    2. moving #5 to #1 pretty much covers the rest of the list.

  7. The ditziest people I went to school with are now teachers…..

    1. That’s not a new phenomenon. Statistical studies going back to the mid-1980’s (at least) showed SAT scores of education majors among the lowest of all groups in universities. (Of course, there weren’t many ‘studies’ departments back then, so it could be a bit better now).

      After two generations of the lowest achievers in college being education majors, it’s a logical assumption that by now the lowest-achieving professors are Education Profs. So you have the dumbest professors teaching the dumbest students. Is it any surprise that many teachers aren’t very good at their jobs?

      …and these are the people we are entrusting with our children….. (SIGH).
      Give me a good Catholic school or homeschooling any day.

      1. They also always whine about being underpaid and overworked. A friend’s girlfriend, who is an elementary school principal, was recently complaining how teachers locally only in the low $30k/yr. in their first year. The median household income where I live is only about $37k/yr. So I’m not sure what she was complaining about. Especially since they get shit tons of time off. including two months during the summer.

        Government school teachers are overpaid, coddled whiners.

        1. They are totally welcome to do what I do, and work 2 jobs, and go to school, while earning over $30K/yr. Now, I work 70 hours a week, and between commutes I’m away from home about 80 hours with work included. If they want to whine, fine. I have zero sympathy for them.

      2. Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.

  8. “”””The education establishment is dedicated to the proposition that all mentors are created equal, and any suggestion that some might be better than others is anathema.”””

    Another anathema put forward by more then just the teachers union is that all students are created equal.

  9. Having 109 of 205 teachers below the mean is not surprising. By definition, about 103 teachers will be below the mean, on average.

    However, having 52 and 16 reading teachers one and two standard deviations below is surprising. We would expect about 32 teachers to be more than one standard deviation below the mean (15.9%), and about 4 teachers to be more than two standard deviations below the mean (2.2%).

    1. You got the point (The Lake Wobegon Effect) which jumped out at me when I was reading this, but the expectation value of one and two sigma quantities assumes Gaussian distribution. I’m curious what happens on the other side of the curve.

    2. By definition, about 103 teachers will be below the mean, on average.

      No. You have an old math teacher to complain about, I suppose

  10. The public isn’t allowed to know how well “public servants” are performing.

    1. Well, I think it’s pretty obvious.

    2. Thats the shortest way of making the same point i was going for.

      I’ve never found a single public-bureaucracy that provided clear, transparent, and *usable* performance metrics.

      More often they prefer numbers that “always go up” (like demand)…. because growing utilization is a metric that suggests “needs to be met”. Often these mask the fact that the institutions themselves simply invent new make-work tasks for themselves which always boost the impression that they’re ‘very busy’.

      Its sort of like how the Cleary Act & Title IX conspired to produce endlessly expanding/growing numbers of “Sexual Assault” incidents. e.g. Under the law, if a single incident is ‘cited’ by multiple sources, it is recorded as multiple “reports”. The system is designed to vastly inflate the rate of ‘reports’ relative to the underlying incidents. If the #s aren’t growing, you’re not following the rules of the system. Its gamed to produce a “rape crisis”.

      1. A couple of things come to mind re: your post.

        When I managed at a big bank and was in charge of gathering/reporting my department’s various metrics…

        1) I know for a fact that some mngrs literally made up their department’s metrics or relied on the made-up metrics of their staff

        2) Any time your department’s metrics were “down”, you had to come up with a reason for it or your headcount would be threatened. I literally pulled these reasons out of my ass so my boss could explain to his boss why the metrics were “down” – either that or I was instructed to adjust the metrics “up”.

        Now this was in the private sector where your budget/headcount got cut or stayed the same most of the time. So I can’t even imagine how unreliable public sector metrics are.

  11. In another 5 years we won’t even need to have this conversation. There will be little fuzzy AI robots that can teach your kid all the subjects they need to learn to and spare them the far left indoctrination and insane social constructs (like gender fluidity), that now seems to comprise nearly 100% of a public education. Kids are graduating from high school with not even 4th grade level math, science, and writing skills, and totally confused about basic biology.

    The only thing that can stop this is government. Eventually they can’t stop it, so they’ll just try to own the source code so that the teaching bot will say ‘Good morning xe, I am gender fluid learning bot 5000, where are your Chairman Mao posters? Are you disrespecting our great fore gender fluid leaders? Show me where the bad man touched you.’

    1. Business idea:

      A personal computing device that comes pre-loaded with coursework and associated reading for grades K-12, which the child can work through at their own pace.

      1. And the teachers’ union has them outlawed!

        1. They’ll try. Rage against the machine. The new luddites, same as the old luddites.

      2. How long until we have the matrix style downloads.

        1. Not sure about AR, but I think brain enhancing chips and downloadable knowledge is not that far off. 20 years until it’s common. Like all other technology, the government will slow it down with irrational arguments.

    2. We have an alternative now in private schooling. The problem is that most people can’t afford 12 years of private school for their kids, and people who support public schooling tend to hate the idea of vouchers. These are the folks who believe that public schools are underfunded because rich people diabolically send their children elsewhere. Until you have a public culture that embraces vouchers out of principle and not just as a gimmick to save the teachers unions you’ll always have people who see public schools as an end, not a means, and are ready and willing to sacrifice individual children (especially someone else’s) in order to preserve public schools.

      1. Home schooling is another option, time instead of money.

      2. “alternative” implies I don’t have to pay for both.

      3. These are the folks who believe that public schools are underfunded because rich people diabolically send their children elsewhere.

        How that this possibly result in “underfunding” of the public schools? It means that rich parents pay for public schools but don’t use them, which raises the per-pupil expenditure of the public schools. (Similarly, when people make a contract with a gym which obligates them to pay $X a month and then fail to use their gym membership (as large numbers of them do), those who actually use the gyms are benefited, as they get to use all those resources the no-shows paid for but aren’t using.)

        1. How *can* this possibly result . . .

          (When is Reason going to get an “edit” function for its comments?)

    3. What makes you think they won’t include far left indoctrination?

      The NEA via government forces, would ensure that it is included as part of their programming. You can bet your next pay check on it!

  12. The president of the National Education Association said “it is unconscionable to evaluate teachers in the public square.”

    That’s an odd way to spell “uncomfortable”. You’d think the president of the National Education Association would know better.

    1. Not if you were familiar with the intelligence level of teachers, you wouldn’t.

  13. My Buddy’s Mother Makes $96/hr on the laptop. She has been out of work for six months but last month her paycheck was $15480 just working on the laptop for a few hours.

    I work through this URL.
    Read more on this web site.—– http://www.earnmore9.com

  14. I’m surprised more teachers don’t break their arms from patting themselves on the back. If teachers have little influence on how much their students learn, as I have heard many of them say, why do they deserve such high salaries?

    Oh, bah. Here, enjoy this video of old Pakistani men dancing:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3DB0YYGVs8

    1. Wrong blog dude, libertarians only like naked fat men dancing.

    2. If teachers have little influence on how much their students learn, as I have heard many of them say, why do they deserve such high salaries?

      I think a lot of it comes from their genuine and sincere experience of feeling like they forced to be the surrogate parents of 100s of kids.

      that they take on responsibilities for other people’s shitty kids that others neglect. and then everyone’s parents acts like they are each the individual “bosses” of the teachers.

      The net result of which is that teachers feel institutionally compelled to circle wagons from the get-go. There’s very much an “us-against-the-world” mentality for many. When they see mooks making lots of money and never taking care of their own kids, they sense an inherent injustice. “Tax that bastard until he learns!”

      (*disclosure = mom was a teacher, half my friends are teachers. this is just my superficial impression)

      1. My wife retired from teaching then got her law degree. This is a hard conversation to have with her. Although she hasn’t taught in more than a decade… actually longer because she was an administrator before retiring, she immediately still gets in self defense mode anytime I start criticizing teachers and pubic education. And when I start mentioning that teachers will be replaced with learning bots, she starts looking at me like I’m the enemy, I’m talking sleeping on the deck stuff here. Once you are a member of a public union for long enough, is that mentality just permanently burned into your soul? I’m asking you since you are obviously around more than a few teachers, whereas my exposure is limited to my wife as far as personal relationships are concerned.

        1. Once you are a member of a public union for long enough, is that mentality just permanently burned into your soul?

          I don’t even think its the “union” so much. (tho its a big part)

          My best friend is a principal of a school in NYC. We both went to a very-experimental educational program in HS, and he wanted to be part of something similar when he started as a teacher. In the first 5 years he was very ‘anti-institutional’ in the sense that he felt everyone around him ‘didn’t give a shit’ and were just defensive about their jobs and interested in doing 20yrs then getting a fat pension.

          Now he’s completely changed. he bitches about people like eva moskowitz making everyone else’s life harder, how no one appreciates that schools are “social prosthetics to replace parents”, and that the actual ‘schooling’ part of education is only like 1/3 of their actual jobs. which is why things like NCLB were so resented (they only measured academic performance in a vacuum)

          I think its just “institutional culture” in public schools more than unions. Just as any corporation has a corporate culture, or any law-firm or other kind of operation will develop its own institutional-psychology.

        2. additional =

          One things about teachers I’ve noticed? is that they seem to have an instinctive distaste and mistrust of “the profit motive”. They just don’t ‘get it’ on an deep level. Many will superficially praise the idea of creative-destruction & self-ordered systems etc. But they don’t *experience* and live within a world that operates by those rules, so its all an abstract thing to them.

          because the institution doesn’t generate revenue growth via “performance”… or generate profits from those revenues from very-disciplined organizational management or by being super-careful about costs at the margins…. the entire “funding” thing is just a force of nature which they see as never being sufficient to their needs. No matter what, “the kids are somehow being cheated” when the school has to deal with questions of ‘efficiency’.

          There is a legitimate argument which some make which is that teacher success really isn’t entirely in their own hands. The fact is, “Kids either choose to learn or don’t”… the best teachers will still have a % that don’t benefit in the slightest. Motivating kids to ‘choose to learn’ is (mostly) out of their hands.

          That said, this is too often an excuse.

          1. Thanks, that’s some good stuff.

            I think sometimes I just need to further refine my skills on how to talk to the wife without pissing her off enough to end the conversation and put her on defense. I actually am getting better, or maybe just more cautious. It probably doesn’t help that I keep telling her that the government where she taught will stop paying her pension when they’ve completely ran out of other people’s money (which is imminent the way things are going). She absolutely refuses to believe this is a possibility. After all, this is guaranteed. See, this is what I mean, it’s institutionalized thought, an idea becomes so ingrained in someone that they can’t even imagine that no outcome is guaranteed forever. I’m sure that the union workers making $25 an hour for sweeping floors at GM in Detroit also thought that deal was going to on forever.

            1. I keep telling her that the government where she taught will stop paying her pension when they’ve completely ran out of other people’s money. She absolutely refuses to believe this is a possibility

              Well, I understand her point. The fact is that schools (and teachers) DO have a stranglehold on political structures, such that they are often the last to actually suffer when there is a crisis.

              they of course don’t see it this way and will scream like banshees when the “cuts” knife eventually falls. See Wisonsin or Detroit or Chicago. They’d rather burn the entire system to the ground rather than accept a “lower guaranteed annual pay increase in perpetuity”

              I think the discussion is hardest for the last point i made above = they just don’t get the whole “performance & incentives” thing.

              they just don’t believe that any/all systems are ‘made better’ by increasing the ‘risk/reward’ dynamic and incentivizing results. They think things like schools (or medicine for that matter) are immune from market-forces.

              It doesn’t help that the way things have been implemented in the past have been done in ways that just incentivized teachers to “teach the test” – or game the system to churn students and pump numbers. Even the most aggressive reformers have seen ‘teacher competition’ produce crap outcomes and are skeptical of ‘business-style’ models.

              1. I’m personally a fan of the “Coalition of Essential Schools“-model of school reform

                (*disclosure – i attended one)

                Instead of looking at schools as factories producing test-takers (which is what the cost-cutting/performance model does), it looks at the system as something more like a “resource” which can be used as needed by students in the course of developing “Mastery of Skills”.

                The entire Prussian model of “discrete subjects” and “tests” is in my mind stupid and mostly-useless from a skills development POV. Knowledge is over-rated, skills are neglected. So much of student time is wasted on mere rote recitation which is almost instantly forgotten.

                The system isn’t designed to measure skills; or if they do, its incidental rather than core.

                IMO, a revamp of the *structure & method* of public education would do far more to fix the entire shitty ‘costs vs. results’ outcomes we’ve dug ourselves into.

                1. The entire Prussian model of “discrete subjects” and “tests” is in my mind stupid and mostly-useless from a skills development POV. Knowledge is over-rated, skills are neglected. So much of student time is wasted on mere rote recitation which is almost instantly forgotten.

                  The system isn’t designed to measure skills; or if they do, its incidental rather than core.

                  ^This guy knows what’s going on^

                  1. i’m never sure when you’re serious.

                    just my opinion.

                    The ‘Ted Sizer‘-approach has something more like a “resourcing & coaching” model.

                    The goals would be for students to demonstrate X level of mastery across Y range of skills. No time limit set; students advance at their own discretion. They could use as much or as little of the resources the school provides to achieve those goals. Hell, they can pretty much get all the books/films/lectures they need from the library, and when they need pedagogy they can go to the “skills labs” and have 1-1 time with Trainer/teachers.

                    that’s very-roughly the idea. The most significant aspect of the system is that it puts student progress entirely in their own hands. Nothing motivates people quite like being in control of their own destiny.

                    The ‘demonstration of mastery’ is usually cast as a ‘performative’ evaluation, where students do some piece of work demonstrating their capabilities in any given area. and it can be iterative – its not like a ‘test’ where your score is your score forever. you can keep doing it until you’ve achieved the rating you think meets your desired limit.

                    There are hundreds of experimental high schools which have tried adopting bits of the model, but almost no one really does the whole thing in full because of its incompatibility with state and federal laws.

        3. My old man was a public school teacher.

          Same…

          A Republican on all things EXCEPT public education.

          Poor bastard worked 182 days a year, 8:30-3:30 (that includes “free” periods). Not saying educating kids in’t a noble profession. Just saying, on the government side it’s not exactly taxing. And Zod forbid you support any type of plan that would promote accountability or competition.

          1. I’m so glad for this site sometimes. This weekend I was at a barbecue at the rather large house of 2 teachers in their 50s. One is retired and the other is retiring next year. They are going to spend the summer traveling around Europe. And fine, good for them. But I had to hear how tough they had it all those years of slaving away as teachers, etc.
            I drank a lot.

            1. I have zero sympathy for teachers. Where I live, there are far more education school graduates than there are jobs for them. New teachers usually have to do substitute work until they land a permanent teaching job. The supply/demand curve dictates that teachers are paid plenty, and could be paid even less, while having an acceptable number of job applicants.

            2. Every job has its ups and downs. I’m grateful for my summers off because they’re necessary. Dealing with 100+ hormonal teenagers a day, many of whom have criminal records, and trying to keep the peace while at the same time teaching basic reading and writing skills is exhausting. (It was especially tiring this year, since most of my kids came to me below a 5th grade reading level even though they’re in the 10th grade.)

              My partner quit teaching after only two days in the classroom because the kids walked all over him. He now sits in a cubicle and gets to deal with patents all day. He makes more money than I do, and on a particularly nasty day, when I’ve had to deal with a girl lighting another girl’s weave on fire or some nonsense like that, I do get jealous of that, but I also have more stable benefits and a longer break. There are a lot of problems with modern education, but I wish most teachers realized that many of the problems we face come from liberal policies. You can’t teach kids who see no value in education. When they counter with, “Well, I’ll just go on food stamps,” it’s no wonder why so many teachers quit.

    3. I was a teacher for a little over 2 years. It’s not that hard. And I was teaching in a poor country with way more students and for way less money than American teachers. Once more I will point out that education majors get the lowest SAT scores but somehow have the high GPAs. Go figure.

      1. I got offered a professor job at a private college, teaching CompSci. I have no teaching experience. I turned it down, because I would strangle the privileged little shitheads, lol. Sometimes I still think I made a mistake. I could have had tenure by now. But the job doesn’t fit my personality at all. I have no doubt I could do it. I’ll stick to contracting and consulting.

      2. And education majors != teachers

        1. A point which becomes less and less true with every passing year, as the cargo cult of credentialism marches through the profession.

      3. Where were you teaching? I taught for a while in Belize, and I’ll admit that it was easier, but I also had less bureaucracy to cut through than I currently do. Plus, the kids were more respectful and actually wanted to learn. I’ve been teaching in the states in poor inner-city districts for five years, and I probably spend the majority of my time dealing with discipline problems and the bureaucracy that goes along with that. Every referral requires lots of paperwork, and then there’s all the paperwork associated with accommodations for IEP or 504 students who are mainstreamed into regular classes.

        I think the reason most teachers feel undervalued is because they’re asked to be substitute parents. Also, the standardized tests we’re asked to give are awful. They’re riddled with errors, but teachers aren’t allowed to look at them until years after they’re given.

    4. I have several Facebook friends who I knew in high school who are now teachers. They are constantly posting insufferable memes about how overworked and underappreciated teachers are. It’s vomit-inducing.

      1. I’d say it depends on where they’re teaching. I used to work in Baltimore’s public schools. When you have teenagers threatening to kill you because you dared to hold them to high standards, and then administrators shrug those comments off, it certainly does make you feel unappreciated. Yes, there are some spoiled and pampered teachers out there. I roll my eyes when I see someone in a lily-white suburb sharing memes like the ones you describe, but most of the teachers I know are dealing with the dregs of society day-in and day-out, and that can be exhausting. Frankly, until certain segments of our society fix their cultural decay, public education is going to remain a mess.

  15. Reading and writing and rithmetic, taught to the tune of a hickory stick.

    I’m sure there are better ways to do education – and that intelligent teachers could do them – but these don’t always seem to be the teachers we’re dealing with.

    Let teachers discipline students, then expect results.

    If teachers are really smart, they should be able to goose student productivity with only a few exemplary punishments of the naughty students.

    If the teachers aren’t smart, at least let them learn to be quick with a ruler, and back them up so long as there aren’t bruises or anything icky like that.

    Then tell all the teachers that they’ll be measured by the improvement their students show.

    I expect this will bear some fruit.

    1. And if we could think of a way to do detention better, we could reserve the classroom for students willing to learn.

      Have detention in the gym and have them work off their aggression, under the superintendence of Coach Muscleman.

      Well, I guess that’s enough crack-smoking for me, time to get realistic about the prospects of reform.

    2. Reading and writing and rithmetic, taught to the tune of a hickory stick.

      Somehow, I see this as superior to the ‘let them be dumb little snowflakes’ method used today.

    3. When challenging authority earns you respect from other students… and when you value the respect of your peers more than the respect of your family and teachers… punishment becomes counterproductive. Not punishing a kid also prevents other students from learning.

      The answer is to stop subsidizing poor life choices, let people suffer sometimes, and kick these kids out into that world… not kick them out into detention so they can hang out with their friends.

      I have kids ask me almost daily if I will give them a referral and send them to ISS. OSS is even more pointless. A kid hates school, acts up, and is punished by… not having to go to school? Wtf?

      Teachers should not be disciplinarians. They should simply say GTFO and keep on teaching. Let stupid kids live with the wolves of the world if they want. That is the only way to make people value education.

  16. I am a school teacher and have concluded that the occupation of “teacher” is not real. I can not “teach” anyone. If I could then every student would be brilliant. All a teacher can do is help (key word there… help) facilitate the learning of someone who has decided to teach themselves. The only person we can teach… all of us… is ourselves. Until we get this there is no hope for any educational system. As it stands our education systems subsidize poor behavior and choices. We let kids who refuse to learn (and omg there are a lot of them in inner city schools) move on in life. They will be tomorrow’s moocher class. And teachers today look at that and say “That’s why we need education!” Well no shit dumbass. Why didn’t you allow kids to learn that lesson while they were in your class, then?

    You want to save education and society? Infiltrate the system and stop letting progs monopolize the minds of children. Sadly, raising your kids right isn’t enough… there are 30 other kids in his/her class that will out vote them every time. It is other people’s children that should worry us, as free people.

    And I don’t mean we should brainwash kids. Just tell them the truth. Be a second voice in the echo chambers of schools. Show them there are other better ways and let them choose. To do otherwise is to make us as bad as progs.

    1. The only person we can teach… all of us… is ourselves

      Thank you for your honesty. It’s true, all anyone can do is act as a guide or a role model. And sadly our public education system has forced teachers to be state biased ideology puppets instead of granting them the autonomy to excel.

      A teacher should be inspiring and motivating students to learn real world useful skills, and become free thinkers, instead of being actors in a government forced social engineering experiment that has gone off the rails into madness.

    2. I think it goes too far to say teaching is not real, but the process is certainly a two-way and cooperative effort.

      1. If it is a real profession, a skill one can master, then you are saying that if the teacher is a master of said art that no student can resist the teachers charms and wiles and will learn. No. The student is 100% the gatekeeper here. If the kid wants to learn, they will. Ifor not, they won’t. It is why a kid canot tell me about every drug known to man, all the modern rappers, stats of soccer and basketball players, and then ask me (real question from a pregnant 10th grader by the way) “Sir… is George Washington still alive?”

        No… teaching is a misnomer and made up construct with regards to teaching others. “Teachers” are merely resources to be used by those who wish to teach themselves. The rest of our time is spent trying to promote character and a semblance of civility to feral beasts.

        1. Stupid phone keyboard…
          The kid CAN tell me about pointless crap

  17. This article is mostly about Virginia. I believe Virginia is one of the states in the US where unions, collective bargaining, and striking by teachers are illegal. The VEA is a voluntary membership organization with about 50% of the teachers belonging.
    I can understand why teachers would not like test scores to be used as a way to publicly identify their worth as a teacher. There are going to be better and less well off schools (as the article points out with Loudon). But also, some groups of students are better than others from one year to the next, so a teacher could have, in successive years, declining incoming classes, and the teacher would look unfairly bad as a result.

    1. Perhaps a better measure of teacher’s performance is not final test scores of the student, but rather the improvement in knowledge and skills while under the guidance of a particular teacher? That might help account for students who are at a lower level when they enter a class.

  18. Let me first give this disclaimer that all teachers are not bad. I’ve seen both good and bad during my student days; and now with my son in grade school. That being said:

    When you have politicized unions and tenure to fall back on, it’s easy to see why teachers would howl at any appraisal program. Like in the private sector, a teacher would have an annual “performance appraisal” where his/her grading would be based on final student grades, parental input, and an other metrics agreed upon. For parents/taxpayers, this would give them ammo against any poorly performing teacher (or teacher just in it for the pension). This will also give teachers incentive to work hard at their job, or maybe step aside. Also as in the private sector, pension is not guaranteed unless a teacher puts in the minimum number of years.

    As a parent, I would welcome this. If my child has a effectively performing teacher, and he’s benefiting from the his/her teaching, there’s nothing to worry about. On the other hand, if teach stinks and it’s negatively impacting my child’s education, time to send teach to the front door. Plus as a taxpayer, I see my tax dollars used wisely.

    Now to implement that here in New Jersey? That’s the fun part.

    1. The solution to fixing New Jersey is to get rid of most of the residents of New Jersey.

      1. So, “nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure”?

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  21. I’m a public school chemistry teacher. I have a PhD in Organic Chemistry and I teach in an inner city public school. I *WANT* my rating to be public because my students show real improvement over the course of a year. All of them? No, I can’t help people who miss 120 days of class. Most of them? Certainly. I reached Accomplished because I worked hard to get there. Now, I get paid commensurate to my experience and education level on a 187-day contract. My pay falls below most of my peers on a daily rate basis, but I don’t complain about it. Would I like too make more, sure, who wouldn’t? But I make enough.

    1. Your attitude is exactly the one to have. And I share it. Where I live teachers make roughly the same rate as someone who works a full year and earns in the 60-70k range. Because we work approximately 1/2 a year… we bring home approximately 1/2 that amount. When my co-workers complain I point out that even with working half of the year they take home right around the state average.

      I would say that they would be better served by arguing not about how much they make… but by how much they COULD make. In my state, after 20 years and with a doctorate, a teacher maxes out around 44k/yr. Granted… make schools private and let us earn what we arrived worth to our customers. But at least the teachers have a somewhat better position to gripe from when looking at earnings growth. It is abysmal.

  22. RE: What Teachers Don’t Want You to Learn

    They don’t want you to know the perils of socialism, the rewards of capitalism and independent thought, especially in the re-education camps of higher education in Amerika.

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  24. Ok, here is how we know that teachers are lying when they claim value-added metrics (VAMs) are just random. In Virginia, just like other states around the country, 99%+ of teachers are rated “effective” in all counties. Nobody but the politicians and teachers believe that.

    So I have a deal for teachers. We take the children of teachers, principals and administrators and put them in the classrooms of just low-VAM teachers. Since you claim the VAMs are useless and 99% of teachers are effective, your kids should be fine. The rest of us will put out kids in the classrooms of high-VAM teachers.

    There is not a teacher in this country who would take that deal. But teachers, please speak up for yourselves!

    1. As a teacher, I think there simply need to be more VAMs, and we also need to reform the ones we currently have. For example, in North Carolina, there is only one, big English II test at the end of the semester. Students must score a 3, 4, or 5 on it in order to demonstrate proficiency. Unfortunately, there are no consequences at all for scoring a 1 or a 2. The exam scores are converted into letter grades which make up 25% of the students’ grade for the course. Last year, I had students make 1s and 2s, failing grades, but their scores were converted into Ds and Cs, passing grades. (This isn’t just the work of an unscrupulous administrator, either. This is an official policy based on the conversion charts we’re given.)

      Students are well-aware that there is no consequence to failing these tests, so it’s almost absurd to expect them to take them seriously. However, they’re used to assess teacher performance.

      1. You do realize that VAMs are not based on the achievement score, but year-over-year progress, correct? Specifying that students scored 1’s and 2’s is insufficient for us to glean anything about how it affected your VAM scores.

        Also, there are analytical ways to determine if kids are really trying. In one state in which all students took the ACT based on school policy, they analyzed the scores on the ACT vs the state standardized tests. Kids have an incentive to do well on the ACT since it will be sent to colleges. There was no discernible difference between the two scores. Thus, at least in that state, your anecdotal theory was demonstrably false.

        1. I know that VAMs are based on year-to-year progress, but, at least in N.C., that progress is only determined by comparing achievement scores on end-of-course standardized tests. Comparing one 9th grade English test to one 10th grade English test is of limited value if the students knew they didn’t have to pass either of them. Due to cultural attitudes towards education, this is probably a bigger problem in the urban districts where I’ve worked, but it definitely matters when a teacher has an incentive to get students to do well on these tests, but the students do not have a similar incentive to do well. Maryland, at least, required students to pass their HSAs in order to graduate. I’m not sure how it works in Virginia, but a similar requirement in N.C. would be beneficial.

          As for the ACT, that’s a good point, but it is my experience that the same kids who blow off an EOC are the same kids who blow off the ACT. I can see why the data wouldn’t look very different. Granted, I’m in a school where only a very, very small majority are genuinely interested in attending college. The free ACT, to me, seems like a very wasteful expenditure. Most of the kids, to my frustration, blow it off an put their heads down well before time has been called.

          1. Should say “small minority,” not “small majority,” obviously.

          2. I do not support all applications of VAMs such as when they are based on subject a teacher does not teach. In Virginia, SGPs were only created on SOL tests in grades 3-8 for math and ELA. There were no consequences to the students but each subject built on the skills in the previous year. It becomes problematic when you completely switch subjects like going from algebra to geometry.

            There are ways to determine if kids are “trying”. We can analyze their scores in previous years. If there are wild swings, that’s a sign the kid doesn’t always try. But I must be honest, just like a coach must motivate his players to pull in the same direction, part of a teacher’s job is to motivate their students. It might not be fair but the best teachers are more effective than others. Some students are much more challenging to motivate but their scores begin at a much lower starting point so obtaining student growth for them can be a few points upward. In other words, teachers of the gifted are not compared to teachers of FRL students in motivating students but rather on other teachers of FRL.

            Nobody is saying all teachers, or even most, are bad. We are just frustrated by good teachers protecting the bad ones so none of them are evaluated. Even the VAM systems can be improved. But let’s not pretend that 99%+ of teachers are effective.

  25. After I won the lawsuit (subject of this article), my district began to censor and retaliate against me. When I pointed out they were violating FERPA, they held closed meetings and then banned me from my kids’ school even for parent-teacher conferences or student events like my daughter’s chorus concerts.

    Note they acknowledge I’m not a safety threat. I’m a DoD contractor (former US Navy submarine officer) with a clearance for going on 20 years. I am allowed to visit any other school in Loudoun County (I’m a member of 2 other PTAs and was involved in 3 Veteran’s Day celebrations last year) but I am not allowed to talk to my kids teachers or drop them off at school.

    I filed a civil rights lawsuit under 42 USC 1983 against Debbie Rose (click to read about it) (former employee of House of Reps Judiciary committee if you can imagine that) and the other school board members for violating at least 6 constitutional rights as well as retaliation and defamation.

  26. I also filed a False Claims Suit against 7 Virginia districts for knowingly defrauding the feds about the use of SGPs while still receiving federal funds (click to read). (read the text of my post on Vamboozled for a link to the legal complaint)

    And my corrupt Commonwealth Attorney Jim Plowman (e.g. DA) refused to prosecute the LCPS lawyers who lied in court and then censored me on his social media pages. So I have a pending civil rights lawsuit against him as well (click to read). He and his lawyer (James Hundley who sits on the Viriginia State Bar disciplinary committee – imagine that) have effectively admitted they were at fault but can’t bring themselves to write in down in a consent decree. So we all have a date in federal court on Thursday, June 2 to educate our DA on how the Constitution works.

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