Friday, February 25, 2011

The Best of The Worst Options

Today, the Courier-Journal ran an article explaining how my superintendent is pushing for replacing teachers at the schools that were recently audited. Some might wonder if this would upset me, but I understand that our superintendent, whose contract has not been renewed, yet he's been helpful and supportive of all audited schools, is in a tricky spot. There are only four options for audited schools. No audited schools pass the audit. They can't. They've already been identified as failing, so the school has to be blamed because they are being audited. I won't pretend my school is perfect, but our problems have little to do with our current staff and administration. The auditors couldn't blame the parents, the community or society at large. So they blamed us. Now they have to do something with us.

There are four options for audited schools: transferring management to an outside agency (basically making the school a charter school), closing a school, linking evaluations with pay or replacing staff.

I believe I've already expressed my feelings on charter schools. If my school were turned into a charter, I would not be working there next year. Why? Because my students probably wouldn't be there either. I teach because I love my kids. Teaching would be super easy if I could hand pick my students and kick out the problems. That's why charter programs succeed. It has nothing to do with better teachers. The charter school option is out because it literally wouldn't fix the problem. It would just shuffle the children around.

Closing a school? We can't close our school. The kids would be displaced. The staff would be displaced. That's to say nothing of the custodians, office staff and other non-instructor people who would be out of jobs. Our school is nowhere near bad enough to close. We have successful students. We have kids who go onto college. We don't have daily fights. Our halls aren't teeming with violence. Closing our school isn't an option.

Linking evaluations with pay would never get through the negotiations end. The measures we'd have to take to ensure no one actually cheated to get their students to score well would be ridiculous. I already have nearly a dozen observations a year. How many more would I need? I know this is supposed to be the fair option, but I've already outlined just how unfair it would actually be.

So that leaves us with restaffing. The best solution would be to remove the audits and focus on providing more resources without putting good teachers and students through a stressful and depressing process. Of course Berman is going to choose restaffing over the other options. I don't fault him. I can't fault him. It's the option I'd choose.

How many more years are they going to do this? I just worry that one of these years, one poor school is going to be forced into the experiment of choosing one of the other options. I hope they don't decide to experiment this year and use my school.

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