It always starts in Cleveland. – K. Griffin

A while back I wrote a piece called “Teachers are Guilty”. The post was basically about how it was easier for teachers to close our doors and focus on our students and classrooms than to become involved with the ugliness of educational politics. For fear of offending some colleagues I didn’t publish the piece.

This week the Cleveland Plain Dealer and State Impact OH pulled a little PR stunt by publishing teachers names and “value-added” scores. They also made an amateurish attempt to mask this unethical report by also pointing out some of the flaws of using the data to evaluate teachers. Then, after reporting the data was incomplete and should not be used solely to evaluate teachers, they published the teachers names and “value-added” scores anyway. I guess competent reporting takes a back seat to tabloid-like, website hit generating drama.

The Plain Dealer and State Impact OH focused on Cleveland. Teachers across the state should pay attention because all educational ugliness begins in Cleveland.

The first Charter School Scam legislation was specific to Cleveland. While public education activists across the state tried to get it squashed the message from the charter supporters was “Don’t worry. It’s only an experiment. It’s specific to Cleveland.” And now we have failing charters all across the state.

Last year “The Cleveland Plan” was passed. While those paying attention opposed it the supporters had the same message as with the charters. “It’s specific to Cleveland.” One year later the Ohio House and Senate are trying to implement a similar plan to Columbus Schools and the Cleveland merit-pay system has been touted as “statewide model” by Governor Kasich.

This week the flawed “value-added” scores were published just for Cleveland. How much longer until it’s a statewide shaming of our teachers?

The Merit Pay Mistake. – M. Pullen

Pullen, Mark. “The Merit Pay Mistake.”  Blog. May 22, 2013.  Retrieved from:  http://mrpullen.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/the-merit-pay-mistake

A third grade teacher in Michigan explains why merit pay is a bad idea for teachers.  He uses a quote about social norms and market norms along with an example of teachers shielding students from a tornado as why merit pay cheapens the profession.

You see, the things that we most want to see from our nation’s teachers — dedication to students, compassion, love, collegiality, and sacrifice  — are not things that operate under market norms.  They exist only because teachers view their profession as a calling; as a result, turning teaching into a market-normed job will have the effect of making teachers far less dedicated, compassionate, loving, collegial, and sacrificial.

Cleveland Schools Plan legislation contains Senate Bill 5 merit pay – G. Mild

Mild, Greg.  “Cleveland schools plan legislation contains senate bill 5 merit pay.”  Plunderbund.com.  April 29, 2012.  Retrieved from: http://www.plunderbund.com/2012/04/29/cleveland-schools-plan-legislation-contains-senate-bill-5-merit-pay/

Blogger Greg Mild, a teacher in Columbus Public Schools, specifically points out the similarities of the merit pay language in SB335 (The Cleveland Plan) and Senate Bill 5.  Senator Nina Turner who was outspoken against SB5 is a strong supporter now of the Cleveland Plan.

So in summary, not only does this Cleveland Plan legislation include exact components from Senate Bill 5, those components again reveal the lack of thoughtful vetting by professional educators who would have helped eliminate such off-base provisions.

National Research Council Gives High-Stakes Testing an F. – A. Jahlen

Jehlen, Alain.  “National Research Council Gives High-Stakes Testing an F.”  NEA Today.  Retrieved from: http://neatoday.org/2011/07/18/national-research-council-gives-high-stakes-testing-an-f/ The report is on findings by the National Research Council/National Academies of Science which concluded that increased standardized tests under NCLB and also tying incentives to test scores result in the narrowing of curriculum and higher dropout rates.

The panel said attaching incentives or punishments (“high stakes”) to test scores pushes teachers to focus on the material that is tested, and leads them to leave out material or entire subjects that are not tested. “Current tests do not measure such important characteristics as creativity, curiosity, persistence, values, collaboration, and socialization,” they pointed out.

What 10,000 teachers think.

(March 20, 2012).  “What 10,000 Teachers Think”.  Join the Future.  Retrieved from: http://jointhefuture.org/blog/733-what-10000-teachers-think

Join the future summarizes a survey of 10,000 teachers conducted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations.  The survey included topics such as class size, compensation, testing and evaluations.  Join the futures created several graphs to illustrate the findings of the survey.

Borrowing wise words from those truly market-based, Private Independent Schools. – B. Baker

Baker, Bruce D. (2012, February 12.) “Borrowing wise words from those truly market-based, Private Independent Schools.” School Finance 101.  Retrieved from: http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/borrowing-wise-words-from-those-truly-market-based-private-independent-schools/

Mr. Baker looks at the educational philosophy of some of the top private schools and points out they specifically stay away from testing, merit pay, and even firing teachers.

From the National Association of Independent Schools (as quoted by Baker):

We do not have to respond to the whims of the state, nor to every or any educational trend. We can maximize our time attuned to students and how they learn, and to the development of curriculum that enriches them and encourages the skills and attitudes of independent thinkers.

Merit pay, so routine in the corporate world, has a miserable track record in education. It almost never improves outcomes and almost always damages morale, sowing dissension and distrust, for three excellent reasons, among others: (1) teachers are driven to help their own students, not to outperform other teachers, which violates the ethic of service and the norms of collegiality; (2) as artisans engaged in idiosyncratic work with students whose performance can vary due to factors beyond school control, teachers often feel that there is no rational, fair basis for comparison; and (3) in schools where all faculty feel underpaid, offering a special sum to a few sparks intense resentment.

Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. – D. Pink

Pink, Daniel. (2011) “Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us.” Video. RSA Animate. Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc&safety_mode=true&persist_safety_mode=1&safe=active

RSA Animate created a catchy animation to coincide with best-selling author Daniel Pink’s research about motivation.  This is the reason merit pay for teachers simply won’t work especially when it’s tied to unreliable standardized test scores.

“Rewards are very effective for some things — simple things, mechanical things,” he (D. Pink) explains. “But for complicated jobs that require judgment and creativity, the evidence shows that it just doesn’t work very well.” Teaching, of course, is one of those jobs.  (Quote from Washington Post article on Pink.)  http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/as-teacher-merit-pay-spreads-one-noted-voice-cries-it-doesnt-work/2012/02/14/gIQAtRpsFR_story.html