"Good teacher" is certainly at one level or another in the eye of the beholder. Take Don Jordan, for instance, a writer in Sunday's Denver Post, a teacher at the Contemporary Learning Academy in Denver. He writes supporting the so-called 'tenure reform' legislation now pending in the Colorado state senate.
Mr. Jordon's very first paragraph would cause me to put him at the top of a list for job performance review. He writes:
"I start every academic quarter the same way. Through the overhead projector, I display a graph that shows my school's CSAP scores as compared to much higher-achieving high schools such as Denver School of Science and Technology and East High. The gaps are monumental."Really. That's how he starts every quarter? Visually bludgeoning his students with the notion that they can be reduced to cold, data-driven statistics on a graph? Is that what a "good teacher" does to his young charges?
The irony for Jordon is that if the Sen. Michael Johnston bill becomes law, after twelve quarters of showing his CSAP graph of stagnant 'progress', he might very well be considered a "highly ineffective" teacher and lose his job. No matter how dedicated, no matter how much his principal may like him, well, surely crappy student scores must mean that he is at least a fifty percent crappy teacher, right?
Such is the lust for the money offered in the "Race to the Top" bribe that Obama's Secretary of Education is dangling to economically stressed state governments, that Colorado's educrats and politicians will do almost anything to get their hands on the cash. That is the basis for this hastily contrived tenure reform idea -- money, money, money.
Of course, as with so many issues, I take a very different position than both sides on this education issue. I am not necessarily being supportive of the teacher's union because I don't like this particular piece of legislation. I actually think that the teaching profession has become over professionalized. In my opinion, I would like to see many more 'real world experienced' women and men inside the classroom teaching kids -- former mechanics, small business owners, artists, clerks, accountants, etc. -- folks who know the concrete importance of learning.
I think one of the things that has debilitated the education field is way too much college-level "training" for teachers and teachers who eventually become administrators and educrats. But then again I'm for ending the concept of teachers and schools as surrogate parents -- teachers would consequently need little or no 'social work' training; a semester of basic 'teaching technique' ought to be enough.
Oh, and I also favor ending compulsory school attendance: if the youngster doesn't want to be there, then she shouldn't be ... those non-attending kids will learn in good time the critical importance of an education and then their motivation level will be such as that they will be interested, cooperative and successful.
But my ideas about education are that it is not about 'schooling' and testing and being accountability to voters and politicians -- it is about the journey of life, instilling a joy of learning, of building relationships among students and teachers that makes knowledge essential to human development and progress. As you can see, I'm a long way from the corporatized, data-driven, factory-modeled 'education' theory currently in vogue.
So, I hope this latest 'Race to the Top' tactic in the Colorado legislature bombs. And, although I'll bet that Don Jordan really is a very nice guy and a sincere teacher, that he reevaluates his commitment to the testing/accountability politics that is sapping the humanity out of our public education system today.