Giving Rouge Parties Too Much Credit [On E4E and Sarah Palin]

Jose Vilson Jose 1 Comment

Part of me sees the parallels with giving Educators 4 Excellence (E4E) and Sarah Palin too much credit. They’ve both become popular for their views, and have the backing of conspicuous and inconspicuous organizations alike, both steering their “constituents” in the wrong direction. Case in point, NYC Educator pointed me in the direction of a Gotham Schools post about E4E’s recommendations for teacher evaluations. Lots of people have jumped on that boat, and everyone’s trying to find the best way to tackle this problem.

Of course, it behooves E4E, who position themselves as the taste-makers for what real NYC teachers (i.e. – compliant) believe about their own evaluations. Their recommendations come in the form of percentages:

From GothamSchools

I have a lot of problems with these, and so I posted this in their comment box:

Before I get to reading any other comments, here’s something I think about:

No matter who this paper is coming from (though it does matter), isn’t placing the value of what a teacher does in a classroom on a test absolutely disastrous? Especially in light of the work of Aaron Pallas, Linda Darling-Hammond, et. al.? The obsession with testing will only push teachers to teach to a test, no matter what the test is, rather than to a standard or to a goal. And unfortunately, tests can’t measure teacher effectiveness very well, as we’ve seen time and again with study after study.

Based on my own formal and informal studies, the opinions of students actually matters more (when asked the proper questions) than 10%. Also, I’m leery about any “independent observer” coming in to observe teaching unless they have serious credentials and someone has vetted them as well. As I grow older in this system, I’ve become more suspicious of this word “independence” when funding sources are tied to certain agendas.

I also believe peer “visitation” (different from observation) is relevant, and a much better way to offer professional development than our one-day drop-ins. As for administrator observations, this paper also assumes that every administrator is actually qualified to teach teachers and help them progress as teachers. Thus, if we’re talking day-to-day business, then that means an administrator better know that Do Nows and Lessons don’t always take up 5 and 15 minutes respectively.

I get parts of this evaluation system, and I know where many of them come from, but it makes me call into question how much research was done and who commissioned this policy team to create this policy. Thanks for reporting on this, Gotham. I’m just incredulous that on this panel, Leo Casey will be seen as the pariah in the face of three individuals who align themselves with Bloomberg’s policies.

I rarely reply to E4E posts except when it concerns a movement I’m a part of, but, because I knew E4E was easy to attack and their recommendations wouldn’t be, I commented. Just like whenever Sarah Palin spouts something ridiculous.
Jose, who wanted to share this with you all …

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

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