Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs
Folks, there is plenty of talk out there about expanding the MCAS tests to include more subjects. For sure, a standardized test has its place. We rely on the SAT to help evaluate High School graduates seeking to attend a college or university. However, let’s, as we move forward, be wary of any unintended consequences. I don’t want those test scores tied around teachers necks.
The privatizers are coming.
BOSTON — An advocacy group pressing for a ballot law that would force schools to prioritize teacher effectiveness over seniority in hiring, layoff, and transfer decisions says it has amassed more than 100,000 voter signatures.
Stand for Children: Our Vision
Our vision is to improve students’ outcomes by ensuring that all children have access to a quality education. Our members identified the following three-year planks to help guide our work from 2009 – 2011:
•No more lost ground: Prevent further cuts to essential school services.
•Efficiencies and cost-savings: Encourage efficiencies and cost-savings strategies so more of our education dollars are available for direct support of student learning.
•Long-term funding: Develop adequate, equitable, and sustainable long-term funding solutions for education.
•Innovation and investment to help all children succeed: Reduce persistent achievement gaps and help all children reach their potential.
Hmmm… This sounds reasonable, right?
Among other changes, this initiative would diminish the role of seniority and experience in personnel decisions, impose limits on bargaining educator evaluation systems and preclude part-time teachers from attaining Professional Teacher Status. It would also impose a new layer of bureaucracy on school districts that already have their hands full implementing recently adopted educator evaluation regulations.
This is doing education reform to teachers, not with us. The MTA has been more than willing to discuss and promote proposals to improve the quality of our schools. The ballot initiative process shuts the door on teachers, administrators and other stakeholders having a meaningful role in shaping policies that directly affect us, our jobs and the quality of our schools.
It is an attack on our collective bargaining rights. The new educator evaluation regulations mandate certain standards and procedures, but still leave many fundamental decisions to collective bargaining. This ballot question would limit bargaining over the evaluations, curtailing the ability of local associations and school committees to develop systems that meet the needs of their own communities.
My gut goes with the MTA on this. Folks, this whole Occupy Wall Street is really about economic and social justice. Public education, at its very core, is about economic and social justice. The brass ring is closer, if you stand on a diploma. As the gap between us grows larger, the further we slide away from what America is. Is our education system flawed? Yes. Have public unions become “Too Big To Bargain?” I’m saying, yes. But, the union rank and file are middle class folks that can be convinced to sit down and talk. For some reason, as we squabble for the 1%’s scraps, we have been taught to punch down or across. Let’s gather with our brothers and sisters and work this out.
Salmira and I sent both of our daughters to parochial school, K-8. Our oldest graduated LHS in 2010. Our youngest started there, this year. I can see the pros and cons of both public and private education. But, never have we advocated for pulling resources away from public schools. Vouchers are wrong, imho. Charter schools? I’m on the fence. I prefer public specialization institutions like technical high schools or Boston Latin, over a charter school. If a charter school was allowed here in Lowell, there would have to be controls in place to prevent its Administration from stacking the deck. The student selection process would have to be random or in line with the allocation system imposed on the other Lowell public schools. If a charter school is to act as an experiment to test an approach, then they must begin at the same point as the peer schools they wish to mentor. No other way would be fair.
I’m concerned we are a nation headed toward gated communities. Public education binds us together. Whatever choices we make, need to reinforce our basic value system. As Americans, we know we are always in this together. Those that spout of “Dog eat dog’ are likely looking to set you up, … as dinner.
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