Dear Mr. Brownsberger,
I am writing to express my displeasure at the current education bill. I agree that there needs to be urgent action in poor performing schools. However, it is not only teachers that are to blame for such performance. We need comprehensive education reform that will look at the role of administrators, parents, teachers, and teacher training programs in order to ensure that we are providing the best possible education to our children. Simply giving the superintendent the power to fire teachers, without any real transparency to the process, will only harm the education of our children. Certainly some teachers who are under-preforming would be removed. However, this would come at the expense of creating ill-will between all teachers (even the good ones) and school administration, which cannot help out children.
Please don’t allow government to scapegoat teachers for poor student performance. They are part of the problem, and can be part of the solution, but they are many other factors that exist in determining student performance, and a teacher’s ability to serve his/her students, that need to be addressed as well.
Three words for you… Hope and Change. This MA. reform bill is a direct result of Barack Obama with his buddy Deval Patrick. If you are not aware of the “Race to the Top” program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education I suggest you Google it. In a nutshell… there is $4.35 Billion in Federal funds available in the coming months to States who comply with the President’s demands including failing schools and Teacher performance tied to individual students. It will create an acerbic envrionment in every Public school pitting Teachers vs. Teachers and Teachers vs. Admins. It’s believed MA. could get $100 to $400m in funds should we comply. I see it as another gross overreach by this President. Most Teachers are already fuming at the Ma. Democratic leadership for a major “Bait and Switch” move being contemplated with the GIC program. They are looking to jack up “out of pocket” expenses mid year after telling all the Public Unions to embrace this plan because it saves Towns and Cities money. Now that the Unions have been fooled Once let’s see what happens next.
Should be one interesting election season next fall…
Jeffrey, I agree with you that blanket firings is terrible, terrible option to give a Superintendent. It will lump in the best teachers with the worst.
Every contract has some sort of evaluation process, and if a superintendent (or principal) needs to fire a teacher, then they can do evaluations to justify the firing.
I teach in a school that underwent revolutionary changes twice in the past decade and both times some very good aspects of the school were harmed. I believe in improving schools, but drastic steps like firing everyone would do as much harm as good–and should not be codified into law.
I definitely agree with the statement that teachers are not the primary problem in districts with poor outcomes — it’s a much bigger picture, with management and school committees included, but also the whole environment: Many kids need services that schools don’t provide — like stable housing.
I also agree that radical changes often do much more harm than good. Too often, people move fast based on inadequately examined theories of the problem.
The more common problem though is probably lack of action and moving too slowly. I am willing to let the state take a bigger role in underperforming districts (after all the state is paying most of the costs in those districts). So, I hope to be able to vote for the reform bill, but I’ll be looking closely at the legislation to understand the concerns that are being raised here.
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