I've been a big supporter of Governor Cuomo and admire his ability to get things done. However, his lone weakness has been his Education policies. Whether it's through his lack of knowledge on this issue, or his poor advisers, Governor Cuomo has fallen into the trap that plagues a lot of the Education debate in this country. Much of the Education policy in this country is being written by people with no experience in Education, and this do not know the realities of Education today. The battle Commissioner King has waged with the Buffalo Public Schools in recent months has only confirmed this.
The first myth is what Jason alluded to earlier: teaching is not an easy profession. I know this just from my student teaching experience. It is more than just 7:30 am-3pm talking to students and having hall duty, and summers off. There are many hours that go into the profession outside of school time. Whether it's grading papers, developing units, organizing curriculum, advising clubs, communicating with parents, professional development, etc. All this, by the way, comes with very little gratitude. This generation of parents wants to be their child's friend, so if they're not doing well in school, it's the teacher's fault. No wonder they've gotten pummeled in recent years.
Second myth: Teaching is a science/should be run like a business. Teaching, first and foremost, is an ART. There are a few "wrong" ways to do it, but there are so many right ways, and what's effective is usually up to the discretion of each individual. What works for one student doesn't for another. This recent trend of basing everything around data and standards does two things: 1) Take the creativity out of teaching and basing everything around a test, and 2) Turns students into numbers instead of human beings.
Third myth: Charter schools are the solution to all educational problems/Public schools = bad. There are some wonderful charter schools out there, there are some public schools that are poorly run. However, this is not a black and white issue. I think this is the Governor's biggest downfall, jumping on the Charter bandwagon and having a commissioner who's background is ENTIRELY based in charter schools. The truth is, most charters are run by companies with no experience in education and some are even worse off than their public counterparts. Look at Stepping Stone as just one example of that. Furthermore, their schools are often inflated by not allowing special education students into their schools, which is completely discriminatory, and if a public school tried that, they would be harshly punished. I'm not dissing charter schools completely, but they are not the golden savior to the Educational crisis in this country.
Finally, the reality is that not every student is ready for college immediately after high school, if ever. Some students need time to grow and mature, some are better off going to work or at a trade school. It's not a crime to fall into that latter category.
While I know Governor Cuomo has the best intentions, he's surrounding himself with advisers who know very little about Education. Fewer politicians and more educators need to be making those decisions.
Jason Zwara - You are obviously an intelligent person but your lack of knowledge or experience in education takes away any credibility that I or many others can give you. Also working for Buff ReformEd would imply that there is a slant to your literature....
Similar to Katie and Hannya, you might be smart but I find it to be insulting that those lacking legitimate experience in education think that they should be the ones writing about how to improve it...
i'd have more respect for public evaluations if administrators had to share theirs as well, since decisions imposed from above are one of the most significant factors that teachers cannot control.
and how about two-way or 'round robin' evaluations? i've heard of these in at least one educational workplace. supervisors evaluate employees and employees evaluate supervisors. different criteria, of course, but same process.
Good advice. Maybe there would actually be jobs available.
Mr. Zwara might have been an educational attorney, but his post shows a lack of perspective regarding what is really being done to teachers. Perhaps because they're an easy target, after all welfare moms are passe, teachers have been branded public enemy number one. And such "compromises" like the one Mr. Zwara praises tacitly endorses a strategy of proposing extremist measures, then pulling back on one's original proposal to look like a great compromiser. Sadly, it's the teachers once again who are taking it on the chin.
Every teacher believes evaluation is necessary, but the current scheme is impractically convoluted and unfairly evaluates teachers on factors beyond their control. Why not grade dentists on how their patients' teeth hold up over time? Or doctors on how healthy their patient are over time? You say that a dentist can't make his patient brush and floss every night? You say a doctor can't maker her patient take the full complement of her patient's medicine, exercise and eat nutritionally? Well, teachers can't ensure their students get enough sleep, come to class, and do all their homework. Teachers can't ensure that their classes don't include 5 special ed students, 4 kids who go out for speech, 3 who leave the classroom for extra reading help and 5 who miss class time for extra math help. How easy for principals and administrations to set-up teachers they don't like, or teachers high on the payroll for failure by "stacking" classrooms.
As for the "compromise" Zwara lauds, with the myriad modes of communication today, let alone good old fashioned over-the-fence chatter, it's folly to think that a teacher's grade, that teachers' privacy is being respected in any way, shape or form.
The reality is that teaching, an occupation requiring SIX years of education with a salary much lower than the public is made to believe, is being targeted. Having taught in the public schools for ten years, I have recently advised many young people to never consider education as a career. From what I hear, the drumbeat of teachers at every level is sending the same, sensible message to today's youth.