Writing Teachers: Still Crazy After All These Years
After spending four depressing days this month at a meeting of 3,000 writing teachers in Atlanta, I can tell you that their parent group, the Conference on College Composition and Communication, is not really interested in teaching students to write and communicate clearly. The group’s agenda, clear to me after sampling as many of the meeting’s 500 panels as I could, is devoted to disparaging grammar, logic, reason, evidence and fairness as instruments of white oppression. They believe rules of grammar discriminate against marginalized groups and restrict self-expression.
all the usual ethnic grievance communities.
Since most scholarship in the field concerns the invention of increasingly convoluted conspiracies of white privilege, discovered through increasingly primitive forms of communication[.]
VAM estimates have proven to be unstable across statistical models, years, and classes that teachers teach. One study found that across five large urban districts, among teachers who were ranked in the top 20% of effectiveness in the first year, fewer than a third were in that top group the next year, and another third moved all the way down to the bottom 40%. Another found that teachers’ effectiveness ratings in one year could only predict from 4% to 16% of the variation in such ratings in the following year.
"For the teachers who are growing our future today and can't be here, I speak against this latest plan by the Business Roundtable to further cripple our public schools, to more profoundly objectify our children, to pull apart the teacher-child relationship built on caring and trust.
… for the past 30 years we’ve devoted enormous energies to more sorting the poor by testing, that deform children, debase our ethics, and blow up our public schools, thus leaving urban poor kids more intensely segregated in corporate welfare charter schools built on a chain gang pedagogy that accepts no excuses, not even hunger or homelessness.
"Even so, public school teachers of the Commonwealth persist in their noble work of teaching children, and teaching them well despite the unending attacks in the media.
"… One teacher recently interviewed spoke facetiously or cynically (it is hard to tell the difference these days) of how students may soon enter her classroom labeled as “pay cut” or “bonus.” This is harsh, but the reality is that a model that explicitly ties children’s scores to monetary worth creates such an atmosphere. Even effective and empathic teachers will be aware of how individual students may influence their own family’s economic security. Tying teacher pay or job security to test scores will not make teachers more accountable for student achievement, but it will have a deadly impact on the now tenuous relationship at the heart of student learning and growth.
"This whole business of using value-added testing to evaluate teachers requires much more research before it can ever be done responsibly. I urge you to heed the National Research Council findings instead of parroting papers by the New Teacher Project or Education Trust or NCTQ, whose funders control both sides of the aisle of that same corporate jet fueled by tax credits. Don’t turn children into Pay Cut Sally or Bonus Billy based on their socioeconomic status before they ever sit down at a desk. This is bad policy that threatens to finish off the profession and to turn teaching toward a low-level child management occupation of last resort.
"When the disgusted Spanish philosopher Unamuno confronted the fascist General Milan Astray in 1936, he said: 'You will win because you have more than enough brute force. But you will not convince. For to convince you need to persuade. And in order to persuade you would need what you lack: Reason and Right in the struggle. I consider it futile to exhort you to think of Spain.'
"I do not think it futile to exhort you to help preserve the teacher-child relationship in Massachusetts. We are not yet a corporate dictatorship. In the meantime, the teachers, parents, and other active citizens of the Commonwealth are not persuaded. Reason and Right are lacking. We shall continue to stand for Reason and Right and to resist all else."
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