Thursday, June 10, 2010

It's ALL Your Fault!

I'm sure the rap was pretty much the same citywide as we spent the day in staff development hell for Brooklyn/Queens Day. For the newbies among you, teachers in B/Q used to have this day off, but the Unity crew wisely traded this day off so that we could return to school after Labor Day. Of course, they were the ones who caused us to return to school before Labor Day in the first place. Nevertheless, this was hailed as a major victory for Unity, as teachers were not required to sacrifice any major organs in exchange for losing the day off.

Anyway, the theme of today's professional development can be summed up in a few words: It's Your Fault. That's right teachers--prepare yourselves for a new era in which it doesn't matter whether a student of yours is forced to sleep in dustbins because their family was evicted. It no longer matters whether a student of yours misses 120 days of school because her mom needs company while watching the Springer show. Nor does it make a whit of difference if the students in your charge go to bed hungry at night. No, if you can't convince your hungry, sleep deprived, truant students to understand that math and ELA are the most important things in their worlds, then you are not a good teacher.

One hardy soul ventured to ask the presenter why anyone in their right mind would want to teach special ed, ELL, or CTT students when we will now be fully accountable for their progress. It was explained to us that the Chancellor has generously decided that if a child is in the 8th grade but reading on a 4th grade level, you will NOT be responsible for moving that child up four grades in one year. Isn't that terrific? You will, however, be responsible for making sure that child makes a year's worth of progress while under your tutelage. So instead of 4 years of progress, you'll only have to make 1. So who wouldn't want to teach those types of students when the bar is set so low?

Well, me, for one. I don't want to teach them anymore. Even though I'm not a math guy, I can do basic computations. If one of my eighth graders is on a 4th grade level, that means he has made an average of 1/2 a year's progress for every year in school (not counting kindergarten). Yet I'll be responsible for that student making TWICE as much progress in his year with me as he has made, on average, in all eight years of school.

I'd much rather teach an eight grader who reads on an 8th grade level. That student has averaged a year's growth per year in school, so it's quite likely I'll be able to move that student along another year.

Even if they skipped breakfast.


NYC Educator said...

Who made this presentation? A DoE rep? While I believe every word you wrote, it's kind of amazing.

Mr. Talk said...

This was not a DoE official, so I can't claim that what was said is city policy.

However, this presenter was in the know and very specific about the amount of progress your students should make. Could it have been wrong information, or exaggeration for effect? Perhaps. But my experience with the DoE and their minions is that they tend to understate the effect their mandates will have on teachers, not overstate. Remember when teacher conference binders were optional, for teacher use only, and would never be collected or used against you?

Pissed Off said...

Thank goodness I only got to go go some boring internet session. No one put us down.

NYC Educator said...

The agreement with the state is far from concrete--it needs to be negotiated with the UFT. While I'm not altogether optimistic they'll do such a great job, if they don't come to an agreement we're staying with the old system.

As I understand it, 20% of your rating will come from some as yet unspecified state test, and another 20 from some unspecified local test.

The fact that no research whatsoever supports the validity of value added is no deterrent for the state of NY.