May 18 2013

My Discussion with Matt Barnum Part 3

Dear Gary,

I’ve often heard teachers complain about the latest reform “fad.” It’s understandable insofar as veteran teachers have been around for many rounds of “reform,” only to see each and every one swept abashedly into a locked closet in the back of the class (right next to where I surreptitiously put those pre-tests I never got around to grading).

I think there’s a lot of truth to that, and I suspect that you agree. Where we’d probably part ways is the takeaway from this insight. You might say that this goes to show how temporal the current regime of reform is; I would say that the faddish nature of past reform shows that we need to stay the course.

You write that Michelle Rhee and Kaya Henderson’s reforms in Washington DC have not worked.  (Disclosure: I previously spent a couple months working as an intern at StudentsFirst. And I had one very brief, very pleasant conversation with Michelle Rhee. I have no affiliation with StudentsFirst now, though, and my views are my own.)

I think it’s misleading to say that based on a few years of inconclusive data we can determine that a reform has “failed.” There is mixed evidence regarding the results of the changes made in D.C., but as Matt DiCarlo pointed out in a takedown of some of Rhee’s overstatements, it’s inappropriate to draw broad conclusions, pro or con, based on just a few years of observational data.

The goal, by the way, of some of these changes – albeit not always articulated well by reformers – is to raise overall teaching quality by attracting some people into the profession who might not otherwise become teachers. It is, to use your baseball analogy, to try to make all hitters bat .300 (or more to my liking, have an on-base percentage of .400). Baseball of course, is a zero-sum game – a batter’s success is a pitcher’s failure – but in education it’s at least theoretically possible for all teachers to be excellent. That’s why many reformers believe in increasing teacher compensation in order to attract top talent, and this is what D.C. is trying to do. This sort of reform, though, will by its nature take time.

I know you believe that these new-fangled evaluation systems are doing far more harm than good, but I can’t accept that after a few districts have implemented them for a few years, they can be trashed as complete failures. If we’re not seeing improved results in another couple decades, then I will be the first one to say that these reforms need to go.

The completely understandable response is, well, what happens to the students who are (in your view and many others’) getting worse results because of such reforms? I have no glib answer to that. What I can say is that students in D.C. were struggling greatly before Rhee’s reforms. The spending per student sits at $30,000 and the results were among the worst in the country.

Gary, I know that you believe that schools can only do so much for their students, but certainly DC schools had and have a lot of room to improve. Was there not space to try something new, even if it didn’t align with many educators’ intuitions about what will work? Isn’t this especially true considering the shaky (though mixed) evidence for more traditional reforms, such as class-size reductions and Head Start?

What I feel disillusioned about is that many teachers that I worked with were so negative towards our pay-for-performance system that they sought to tear it down rather than build it up. You’re upset that StudentsFirst spends a great deal of money on elections, rather than trying to improve teacher preparation; well, I hope you’re equally upset that NEA and AFT have spent huge amounts of money backing candidates who oppose teacher evaluations. What if that money were spent on making teacher evaluation systems be as effective as possible?

Few alternatives have been suggested. Yet, I don’t think even you would agree with the notion that a decade ago teachers were being fairly and effectively evaluated. As you know, many “evaluations” consisted of an annual pro forma visit by the principal into the teacher’s classroom; meaningful feedback was not consistently given. I know you think the pendulum has swung too far, but perhaps you could acknowledge that reformers were responding to some bad circumstances.

Am I wrong? I know that the AFT has backed peer review programs, which I think could be great, but it also seems like a blip on the radar. Perhaps reformers have to account for the failure to work with unions on this – but isn’t always a two-way street?

Yours in dialogue,

Matt

PS I hope you saw Matt DiCarlo’s recent piece on VAM. I agree that it’s not junk science or a “sham.” I also think that some districts have a way to go in using it effectively – hence my comments above about teachers being partners in creating such evaluation systems.

My response:

Dear Matt,

“another couple of decades”?  No, I don’t think this would be a good idea.  I do appreciate your desire to apply the scientific method to education, however.  And yes it can be premature to label an experiment as a failure before it has been given time to run its course.  But if we’re going to act like scientists, we have to do it right.  For education, it is a bit like medicine.  There is a ‘disease’ — poor kids getting low test scores — which we want to ‘cure.’  The vital first step is to identify the cause of the disease.  If you misdiagnose this, any remedy based on fixing the wrong cause is doomed to fail.  Even if ‘bad teachers’ were a big cause for low student test scores, I’m not confident that corporate reforms strategies would work, but treating the wrong cause is definitely counterproductive.  In this case it is like trying to cure a strained knee with chemotherapy.

To treat the problem scientifically, the people controlling the experiment should have some idea about what ‘success’ should look like at various stages of it.  Yes, I suppose there could be experimental drugs where they seem to be not working at all and then at the last minute they kick in and cure the disease, but in this case we should be seeing some benefits, particularly in places that have embraced the reforms most like Washington D.C..  Their lack of progress so far suggests to me that I am correct that they are fixated on the wrong root cause.  The problem with waiting for a few decades, from my perspective, is that there is too great of a risk that these remedies come with severe side-effects.

This may seem non-scientific to you, but my very traumatic first year created in me a keen ability to tell when something in education just isn’t going to work.  My first year I was very naive and ideas about how to teach or about how to manage a classroom would sound so good to me until I tried them only to learn, the hard way, that they had serious loopholes.  So since that first year I’ve developed an innate sense for these sorts of things.  When I hear new ideas about how to teach or about how my school’s bell schedule is going to be altered or, at a macro level, how to ‘turnaround’ certain schools, I just ‘know,’ even sometimes when I haven’t been able to verbalize exactly why, it isn’t going to work.

In the case of the ‘bad teacher’ cause I also have some strong first hand evidence that this is not the major issue.  For one, I taught at three failing schools that all had what I’d call ‘above average’ teachers.  Also, two of the smartest friends and TFA alum that I know have been principals of un-miraculous schools.  I feel like if they weren’t able to turn around their schools (at least from a test score perspective) that it can’t be done without some kind of cheating.

You are correct that many schools and districts, pre-reform movement, were not fulfilling their potential.  Though I think there is a limit to what a school can accomplish, I do think it is worthwhile to try to achieve that limit and, yes, schools did have a lot of problems:  money being used unwisely, terrible organization where on the first day of school some classes have 50 students and others have 10 students, bad curricula, etc.  I’m not surprised that ‘reformers’ have been given an opportunity to show that they could do things better.  My hope is that once this wave of ‘reform’ is shaken off, a new movement led by people who actually know something about students, teachers, and schools take over and guide us forward.  I look forward to the day when I can stop playing defense and participate in that endeavor.

I mentioned my ‘sixth sense’ which I’m sure could invite some ridicule, but here is what I believe will happen as a result of this misguided ‘reform’ movement.  Within five or ten years there will be a massive teacher shortage.  Already, I’ve read that in California the number of new teacher applicants is way down this year.  The promise of big bonuses to young superstars will just not be enough to get people to replace all the teachers retiring or otherwise fleeing the profession.  Maybe TFA and other alternative certification will be expanded to fill the void and maybe we may even be able to get test scores to the same, or even marginally higher, level with enough focus on that goal.  But the other metrics, the more important ones that are so tough to measure, will suffer.  Maybe we will drop from the top of the Nobel prize winners category.  Or, like we see in New Orleans, we will have more crime.  We may win the ‘test score’ battle, yet lose the war.  I know that this might sound extremely speculative, but that is where I see things going, at this rate.

As far as the unions spending money to back candidates to go against the ‘reformers’ I think that is exactly what they should be doing right now.  When you’re under attack, you have to defend yourself as your first priority.

You know, the basic premises of ‘reformers’ are not crazy to me.  Certainly we want schools and teachers to be as effective and efficient as possible.  And yes, a good teacher gets kids to learn.  It may be tough sometimes to measure that learning, but still, a teacher should be able to present some evidence that students have progressed.  But these modern measures of progress for students and schools are being misused.  Maybe they are not complete ‘junk’ but they certainly have a large margin of error so using them as a way to rank teachers is not very fair.  Matt Di Carlo does seem determined to keep the possibility that one day these measures will be improved and used appropriately.

But the big problem is that the ‘reformers’ are not as wise as Di Carlo.  The whole ‘reform’ movement is led by people who I really don’t admire.  I haven’t figured out if they are well-meaning but just not wise about things or if they are devious and excellent liars.  I can see the case for either argument.  As a litmus test, compare some of the writers and bloggers on both sides.  A good starting place that will hit home with you is to look at the pieces that you wrote and appeared in The Answer Sheet and in Dropout Nation.  I can’t think of another person besides you who has had pieces in such different forums.  In your Dropout Nation ‘Testing is good for teachers and children‘, editor RiShawn Biddle is so insecure that he constantly interrupts your essay (I counted four such intrusions).  Compare to your ‘It’s time for TFA to fold‘ where Valerie Strauss, after the introduction, allows you to say what you want without interruption.

Anyway, I hope I have not seemed to ‘dodge’ any of your questions.  I’m wondering what you think about the mythical highly-effective teachers and high-performing charter schools.  Do you think they prove that ‘poverty is not destiny’?  Also, what do you think that TFA makes the right decision when they try to convince the new CMs that they are very capable of achieving ‘transformational’ teaching where they change the life trajectory of their students?  Realistically, I don’t think that my impact on students, even in my ‘teacher of the year’ year, was so great that it changed any life trajectories.  Do you think that you did?  Do you think that the alum who trained you did?  If this is unrealistic, is it still OK to train people with that mindset since it will keep them optimistic, like telling someone that a diet and exercise program is likely to work, thus motivating them to stick to it?  Or is is more like telling someone that they can climb mount Everest if they just have high expectations for themselves and little practical training?

Look forward to continuing the dialogue.

Gary

23 Responses

  1. Educator

    Since D.C., Rhee, and Henderson are brought up, if in some crazy instance anyone missed it, this is a must read from reporter John Merrow:

    http://takingnote.learningmatters.tv/?p=6232

    Merrow continues to write about the ongoing scandal if you read his more recent blog posts.

    Yes, the scandal isn’t related to NAEP scores. But it’s worth noting still.

    “But politicians (and citizens) in those 25 states might want to take a closer look at what she actually accomplished. Sadly, DC’s schools are worse by almost every conceivable measure.”

    “Rhee and her admirers point to increases on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, an exam given every two years to a sample of students under the tightest possible security. And while NAEP scores did go up, they rose in roughly the same amount as they had under Rhee’s predecessor, and Washington remains at or near the bottom on that national measure.[39]“

  2. Educator

    This is what worries me about the future of teaching –

    http://teacherunderconstruction.com/2013/05/15/growing-losses-list-of-teachers-who-have-publicly-resigned/

    Maybe, though, these teachers who resigned have it wrong…”lifelong learning” Who cares? What we need are results and no more excuses. Maybe more people will be attracted to teaching once more teachers care more about standardized test results. Afterall, we’re certain that better NAEP/TIMMS/PISA scores means that the country will be better, right?

  3. Class size reduction isn’t a reform resting on shaky research. It’s popular with teachers, students, and families because it works.

    Reformers don’t like it because it’s expensive (it also creates union members). They also note that major CSR programs require many more teachers, some of whom will be inexperienced and uncredentialed (apparently reformers only support such teachers when classes are bigger?).

    http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Organizing-a-school/Class-size-and-student-achievement-At-a-glance/Class-size-and-student-achievement-Research-review.html

  4. Cosmic Tinkerer

    Head Start is not on “shaky” ground. Gains are well documented. That those gains tend to subside by the primary grades suggests that Early Childhood Education should not be seen as a one time inoculation against a lifetime in poverty. Head Start children and their families continue to need additional guidance and supports after Preschool so that students don’t lose ground.

  5. David Shulman

    So many remarks to make, but I’ll confine myself to two. One, the per-pupil expense cited for DC, cannot just be left alone. There arrears to be more money spent on staff outside the classroom than in it. That is sinful, and that measure is therefore useless. Two, people all acknowledge the uniqueness of each child. At the same time every kid is stuffed into the same learning time frame ( September to June) like the ingredients for sausage are stuffed into a casing. Why aren’t we surprised that some kids are less successful than others by June given each ones differences in genetics, facility, home support, nourishment (or the lack thereof), absenteeism, mobility, etc? Why don’t schools provide extra time and help and couple advancement to mastery instead of calendar?

  6. KrazyTA

    Gary: I appreciate your understated tone. This is your blog; and you have amply demonstrated that you know how to reach your intended audience.

    However, while I feel I should abide by the [as I understand them] ‘Rules of the Road’ on this blog, I also feel I can be a little more direct. If I understand you correctly, you are claiming that actual teaching experience in a classroom over a substantial period of time, combined with a continuing effort to improve one’s own performance that includes trial and error & success and failure, creates an increasingly finely honed sense of what works and what doesn’t.

    And that is not all. Mix in dealing with/carrying out/trying to implement constantly changing top-down mandated ‘reforms.’ Each different panacea promises—seemingly oblivious to those that had come before and those that are about to follow—to be that special silver bullet, magic feather, or elixir of learning.

    The result? Teachers’ good judgment—product of both the ‘school of hard knocks’ and formal schooling—gets belittled as ‘resistance’ by the ‘impatient optimistic reformers’ du jour of the educational establishment. In fact, such hard won good judgment becomes seen as baggage; even worse, inexperience and even cruelty [e.g., Michelle Rhee enlisting John Merrow in a self-promoting move as she fires a principal on camera] become virtues.

    So let me say this directly. You and many other teachers [of course, not all of them] are far better equipped to change public education for the better than all the educrats and edupreneurs put together.

    Just sayin’…

    :)

  7. Steve M

    I’m pretty sure that Matt will be a tool for others as soon as he gets out of law school. To me, it seems that he is simply going through the process of establishing his bona fides at Gary’s expense. Matt’s certainly learned nothing here, and it is apparent that he has not read Gary’s posts from the last few years.

    From the (short) Dicarlo post that he provides:

    “The real questions here are less about the merits of the models per se than how they’re being used.”

    ->Really? We shouldn’t question the merits of VAM?

    “If value-added is “junk science” regardless of how it’s employed, then a fairly large chunk of social scientific research is “junk science.””

    ->Yes, that’s true….a lot of social research is junk science; particularly educational research. But DiCarlo’s statement is also a non-sequitor, as most social science research does not utilize the same (highly-questionable) statistical models as VAM. Some certainly does.

    “And those who hold this opinion will find that their options for using evidence to support their policy views are extremely limited.”

    ->DiCarlo’s statement is simply a false dichotomy.

    “They should, for instance, cease citing the CREDO charter school study, which uses a somewhat similar approach – i.e., put simply, judging effectiveness by statistical comparison with schools serving similar students. In this sense, CREDO (and most of the charter school literature) must also be called “junk science.””

    ->It may be. I haven’t looked at it in depth, so I don’t know if it uses a covariant, instrumental-variable statistical approach. But lets say a VAM has a coefficient of determination of 0.68 (I’m being generous, see my points in Matt, part deux), and the CREDO study’s coefficient is similar. Is either good? Couldn’t both be full of crap? I don’t know about the CREDO study, but VAM models are flawed throughout…and we’re talking about coefficients for studies that are chock full of flawed assumptions to begin with. Besides, DiCarlo’s assertion is again a false dichotomy: I’m not finding fault with VAM through such a method. Just using my brain, Matt.

    “You might believe that human judgment is a better way to assess performance than analyzing large-scale test score datasets, and you might be correct, but that’s just an opinion, and it hardly means that all alternative measures are “junk” no matter their policy deployment.”

    ->True. Not all other means must be “junk”. But VAM sure is. I agree with everyone that the current method is no good.

    “In short, value-added models are what they are – sophisticated but imperfect tools that must be used properly. We can and should disagree about their proper uses, but calling the models “junk science” adds almost nothing of substance to that debate.”

    ->Wow. What a great argument for the prescriptive use of VAM. I might as well say this: “They sure am sophist’cated. They gots symbols and stuff in them, so they must be gud.” DiCarlo’s piece is an editorial, Matt. And it is a stupid editorial, to boot.

    Gary, you’re being used by this guy. Plain and simple.

  8. Steve M

    Unfortunately, it will take two or three years (when Matt graduates and throws his hat fully in) for my words to resonate.

    • Anne E

      It’s disappointing to see readers of this blog resorting to speculative character attacks. You might not agree with Matt’s opinions, but I don’t think that’s grounds for disparaging him. How would you feel if somebody said these sorts of things about your own son/father/brother?

      • Steve M

        Point taken, Anne, but Matt is at ground zero (Chicago) in a war that is ruining lives and, being highly educated, he cannot claim ignorance.

        Matt has demonstrated the clear intention, in his last two posts, to ignore all critiques of his views and references: whether it is a rather inflammatory attack (such as mine), or some of the very nuanced lines that were put forth, back in Part II. This is either disingenuous, obtuse or insincere of him, considering the flood of “studies” and “authoritative pieces” that he put out for US to consider…and which were shot down, one at a time, by various readers. Now he has the gall to spew it all again, after explicitly stating that he would reflect upon things. My bet is insincere.

        As Gary states (regarding “reformers”): “I haven’t figured out if they are well-meaning but just not wise about things or if they are devious and excellent liars. I can see the case for either argument.”

        Which is Matt?

        He certainly has been spoon-fed his citations from some organization that has massive resources, and time, on its hands.

        [My son/father/brother...pshaw. I, myself, am a jackass. But at least I'm being sincere. I said two mean things about Matt: he's a tool; he's using Gary. What are the Vegas odds that Matt is following in the footsteps of Rhee, et al? He already admitted that he worked for StudentsFirst.]

        • meghank

          Steve is right. I know Gary believes in dialogue, and he’s probably right to continue the discussion with Matt. But his comments on his last post left a bad taste in my mouth (“Diane Ravitch has lost a great deal of respectability”), and I personally wouldn’t be able to engage with someone who so clearly is not going to allow himself to change his mind. He wants to change our minds, but despite the fact that we always win the argument, he never will change his. It does seem like Matt is only interested in PR for the corporate reform movement.

          Again, I guess this is what dialogue is all about, and I applaud Gary for doing it. I’m just not interested in reading Matt Barnum’s thoughts anymore.

  9. Lisa

    There’s so much more to kids and what kids have learned than test scores. There’s so much more to effective teaching than test scores. And there’s a lot to be said for not fast-tracking our students, which is one of the results of the test score focus. Sure, some kids can handle it (my oldest, in a GT classroom, is working a full year ahead), but all her TCAP will show next year is that she is “advanced.” That’s useless to her and useless to me, and for that matter, doesn’t say a whole lot about her teacher either because hmm, let’s see, a class full of GT learners working a year ahead of grade level is pretty much all going to be proficient or advanced. So rather than assume that all of her GT teachers are amazing (which, they are, independent of test scores), and then assuming that the teachers with ESL and IEP kids stink, maybe we ought to look well beyond test scores.

    I’m also in agreement that we want to help children reach their full potential, but I disagree with the timeline and the pressure. As Gary has pointed out, the assumption is that kids are behind because they have bad teachers. It’s a terrible assumption. I know kids who are struggling because they have special needs (Aspergers, dyslexia, fine motor delays, etc), and increasing pressure for them to learn faster doesn’t help. Increased educational support for the students and their teachers does–but that seems to require extra $$ and leads to “reformers” often yelling about how we spend more on kids now than we did 30 years ago with little to show for it. The latter is not true (scores have increased) and the former ignores the fact that 30 years ago, we didn’t bother with resources for our most needy children. That was true on both ends; my GT experience was a one-hour weekly pull-out, which did nothing to alleviate the daily boredom of grade-level reading when my reading level was far above it.

    The biggest reason I don’t see the reforms being effective is that by in large, the people “selling” them are rude and hostile to teachers, parents, and anyone who has a more nuanced, balanced view of education. And let’s not forget that too many of them have a habit of playing games with “facts.” Michael Johnston recently tweeted that he spoke at a charter high school graduation where there is “100% college acceptance.” I looked at the Colorado Dept of Ed data and noted that CDE data said high school lost 37 kids between 10th and 11th grade. I asked him what happened to those 37 but received no response. I don’t want to diminish the work of those graduates and their teachers, but we need complete honesty when it comes to charters vs public schools, among other things, especially because claims of 100% college acceptance make a huge difference when it comes to discussing “educator effectiveness.” SOMEONE has those 37 students that the charter school doesn’t, and someone will have to take responsibility for them. If we want to be fair, maybe it should be the charter school that has to count them, because it would give us all a better idea of what’s really going on in education and what is possible during a time period when educational funding, at least in Colorado, has been cut substantially.

  10. gkm001

    I’m impressed by the civility and clarity of many of the comments here, and I hope Matt Barnum is, too.

    This is a question for him: You spent two years teaching. What did you learn, in that time, about good teaching and learning?

    • Matt Barnum

      gkm, sorry to just respond now – tough question. For me, perhaps most importantly, I realized the importance of developing strong relationships with students, and that doing so can have significant effects on student learning.

      • gkm001

        Well said. What supports teachers in developing strong relationships with students, and what stands in their way?

        I would say that having too many students per class, and too many classes per day, is a hindrance, but some reformers seem to think it doesn’t matter how many kids you put in front of a teacher. They seem to think that an effective teacher is like a movie — something you can put up at the front of the room for any number of people to watch, rather than a human being interacting and developing relationships with other human beings.

  11. veteran

    “The goal, by the way, of some of these changes – albeit not always articulated well by reformers – is to raise overall teaching quality by attracting some people into the profession who might not otherwise become teachers.”

    Matt,
    Could you please explain your justification for this? I so want the above statement to be true! But I haven’t seen any support of this from the movement. Not with TFA who encourages getting out of teaching and becoming a leader ASAP, not from “Riding the Gravy train” Rhee. I’m seeing policies drive teachers OUT. The thing is about these reforms is when you talk about cutting pensions that is not just cutting out for just ineffective teachers but for ALL teachers even teachers of the year. Or when we talk about using VAM to evaluate and pay we are using it on ALL schools ( According to some state’s legis) even schools that may never have had problems with achievement before.
    Your statement is what originally got me in TFA many years ago, but unfortunately I don’t think that is the focus. Unless you have some data that can prove me wrong. Would love to see it!
    Thank you

    • Educator

      verteran,

      I too would like more information with the quote you presented.

      A lot of people in education use the phrase “other people’s children” in reference to how a lot of education policies seem to affect “other children” (mostly low-income). But I think there should be the phrase “other people’s teachers” –> To me, it seems that a lot of policy makers are focused on changing education policies for those other people’s teachers, not theirs. (Charter schools, for example). But I’d say in these last few years as state legislatures have started to copy these policies, other people (mostly wealthy) are starting to raise hell.

    • gkm001

      I’d like to see this explained also. When I look at occupations in our society, I see that some tend to attract people who like to be individually recognized and financially rewarded for their individual efforts — hedge fund managers and car salesmen come to mind. Other occupations are more structured around work in teams, and attract people who like contributing to a group effort: engineers, health care workers, and members of the military come to mind. Some reformers appear to be under the impression that the first kind of people would make better teachers than the second, and that we should therefore restructure teaching to reward individual effort. Two problems with this: one, teaching is a profession in which you work cooperatively with other human beings — students — to reach shared goals. Changing teacher compensation doesn’t change that basic fact. Second, people who highly value cash bonuses for their individual achievements would be frustrated to have those achievements measured by someone else’s performance (students taking tests) and then evaluated by a complex system (VAM) in which the statistical model chosen may or may not account for all the factors influencing your work. It is not clear to me that the first kind of person would make a better teacher than the second, nor is it clear that any teacher would find a pay-for-performance scheme attractive.

    • Matt Barnum

      Certainly TFA has recruited and attracted really talented people who otherwise wouldn’t go in to teacher. (Not to say, of course, that there aren’t many really talented people already teaching.)

      What I would like to see is this scaled and sustained for people who want to make teaching a career. Much more difficult to do, admittedly.

      I think you’re right to point out that all changes affect teacher recruitment. So, for example, eliminating tenure also takes away a valuable perk of being a teacher. That’s why I think such reforms should be paired with attempts to improve working conditions and increases in salaries.

      In terms of evidence that reformers are trying to raise teacher quality, look at the salary increases that have been offered in DC with the explicit goal of recruiting top-quality candidates. Again, I think salary is only part of the puzzle, but it’s an important piece.

      • veteran

        Thank you Matt for your insightful comments on teacher retention. I agree with what you are saying. TFA IS bringing many talented people into education. There are also many talented Non_TFA teachers. I would like for this talent (Either kind) scaled and sustained as well.
        Thanks for the DC example- although it’s ironic you brought up DC with their own standardized testing scandal. Will the right teachers be getting those bonuses?

      • gkm001

        I’m not sure I understand what it is you want to see scaled and sustained for people who want to make teaching a career. People who want to make teaching a career are, by definition, already choosing a career in teaching, are they not?

  12. skepticnotcynic

    Pay-for-performance doesn’t work in teaching! Stop debating this. The research is overwhelming that it doesn’t work, and the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming. The efficacy of pay-for-performance in the private sector is debatable, so who in their right mind would think it works in the service oriented public-sector?

    If you want to attract better people, make the job more selective. One way to do this is to increase salaries and create better and more sustainable working conditions. I.E. Be realistic as to what teachers can accomplish!! Of course when you’re a desk jockey, consultant or eduwonk you can champion any policy because it doesn’t directly affect you, it only lines your pocket. If you have a clue or morals, and real experience, you would know it doesn’t work.

    Matt Barnum has neither, given the fact he interned for StudentsFirst. I would’ve never interned for this type of organization during or after my 2 year commitment, so this goes to show you not all current corps members or alums think the same way.

    Initially, I gave Matt the benefit of the doubt, but he has the inability to change his views given the overwhelming evidence that has been presented to him from some of the most thoughtful people in education. His reasoning, when it comes to education reform is flawed. What bothers me is that Matt is all about data and evidence, but when people on this board present evidence and study after study that shoots down the very few studies that support the current reform efforts, he ignores it. Matt, the evidence is clear, the current reform movement is doing more harm than good.

    Matt’s thinking reminds me of the corps member who jets off to work at the TFA office after 2 years to be a PD or MTLD and thinks they have nothing left to learn in the classroom, or they are in a rush to lead others. Of course, in any other profession this would never happen. Can you imagine a doctor in residency training doctors, or an Associate Lawyer becoming partner after 2 years? No, it wouldn’t happen, even though teaching is just as intellectually rigorous.

    People like Matt are great self-promoters. Code for full of sh#t.

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