Tag: Hechinger Institute


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Voices of the Dropout Nation: Teacher Quality This Past Week


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Comments, observations and declarations from people advocating for and fostering change: “No capable and dedicated person wants to work in a quality-blind profession, but that’s what’s gradually happening to education……

Comments, observations and declarations from people advocating for and fostering change:

  • “No capable and dedicated person wants to work in a quality-blind profession, but that’s what’s gradually happening to education… There is at least one teacher on every staff that makes us all wonder, “How the heck did they get in, and why do they still have a job?” Somewhere in that teacher’s past timeline, a college professor or principal did not have the guts to say, “This person doesn’t meet the standards of the teaching profession.” — San Gabriel (Calif.) Unified teacher Heather Wolpert-Gawron in Teacher (password-required) questioning the value of “last-hired, first-fired” policies and other aspects of the current teacher compensation and evaluation system.
  • “Renaissance teachers have been betrayed by their own union. Despite paying dues—and maybe even more importantly, embodying the very essence of teacher voice deployed in the furtherance of student achievement (and not just their own paychecks) that the UFT always talks about—the UFT has more or less told Renaissance’s teachers to eat cake:  the UFT backed last year’s unfair, disproportionate double cut funding freeze on charter schools; and despite promises from its former President, it refuses to advocate on these teachers’ behalf this year.” — Charter school advocate James Merriman observing a protest by charter school teachers represented by the American Federation of Teachers against the union’s New York City local.
  • “If I could make one single reform nationwide, it would be this: make every building principal completely and personally responsible for hiring and firing teachers. If the school board determines that the principal is capricious or incompetent, then they should fire her or him. This shifts the burden of advocacy from students vs. teachers to teachers vs. principals… why we shouldn’t try something new. Is protecting the jobs of marginal teachers and principals worth sacrificing the potential of some students?” — Charter Insight‘s Peter Hilts on ways to improve teacher quality and hold administrators accountable.
  • “The only way to generate increased performance is to structure the incentive system in such a way that the mean is raised. This means abolishing tenure and seniority, thereby removing the safety net for failure. Then find ways to give the best performers a piece of the economic action for increased productivity. If a man can increase the institution’s net income, give him a larger percentage of this when his output increases… We understand this economic incentive system when it comes to business, yet most people fail to understand it in the field of education.”– Gary North offering another teacher quality solution in his obituary to the work of the late Jaime Escalante. [Dropout Nation offers its own thoughts.]
  • “It took me several years to understand how Garfield’s AP teachers, and the many educators who have had similar results in other high-poverty schools, pulled all this off. They weren’t skimming. It wasn’t a magic trick of test results. They simply had high expectations for every student. They arranged extra time for study — such as Escalante’s rule that if you were struggling, you had to return to his classroom after the final bell and spend three hours doing homework, plus take some Saturday and summer classes, too. They created a team spirit, teachers and students working together to beat the big exam.” — Jay Mathews, who wrote the series of stories and books that made Escalante a household name, on how the teacher succeeded in improving the odds of his students making it in life.
  • “These are freshmen, used to a transactional model of education predominant in American high schools. The fact that this model — the teacher tells the students what to do; students follow teacher’s directions; students get good grades — is the predominant one is a serious problem in our schools, but that’s another issue. Whatever the case may be, I am getting these folks in the final four years of their formal schooling (for the most part) and if I don’t get them thinking on their own, they will crash and burn in the real world.” — Robert Talbert of Casting Out Nines on his process for getting his students to become well-prepared men and women.
  • “But here’s my question: why does it matter if they are public or private as long as students are getting a good education and are not being forced into religious instruction?” — Hechinger Institute boss Richard Lee Colvin on the constant (and often, rambling ed-schoolish dribble) efforts of some to argue that charter schools aren’t public schools. The answer is: It doesn’t matter to the children or the parents or to anyone who cares about improving their lives.
  • “The Pessimist complains about the wind, The Optimist expects it to change, The LEADER adjust the sails! Which are you?” — Dr. Steve Perry offering a much-needed reminder on leadership and school reform.

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