Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Teacher Management Revolution Appears DOA


Boom. The hit laid out against this School District initiative reminds me of that which was witnessed a few years ago against City-County consolidation / rapture -- only much faster and more bone-jarring.

The foundation community unveils something for public schools:

But now, a one-size-fits-all law that enshrines seniority as the defining basis for teacher layoffs is jeopardizing this critical progress [of developing teacher evaluations for improving outcomes]. (P-G, Oliphant, Vagt, Behr)


And the teacher's union sacks it:

The claim that seniority keeps bad teachers in the classroom and harms children is absolutely false. The two objectives of this movement are to weaken unions and to pay teachers less. (Hileman, PFT, P-G)


Read both of those, because there's a lot more to both arguments than just that.

What awful timing. Just as organized labor is rallying around itself and forging a consciousness.

And ay caramba, what problems!

Everybody who remembers school should remember at least a small handful of teachers who seemed to have checked out -- who lost the fire if indeed they ever had it. And can probably remember occasions on which a generation gap between teacher and student (spanning several generations at once) seemed to have gotten in the way of effective teaching engagement.

If one needs a primary care physician but cannot shop around forever for doctors, one does not want the doctor walking in to qualify due to seniority alone. You want the doctor who is most brilliant and/or who maintains their position by achieving consistent results and/or whose experience has in fact made them excellent and able to thrive under many challenges.

Then again, seniority provides undeniable protections against arbitrary and capricious administration-level decision making -- and is empowering for teachers in the classroom.

And these aren't even the core problems!

The problems are here and here and here, among other places. And the Pittsburgh Promise is a great opportunity for students savvy enough to seize advantage of it, but it's not destined to generate a rush of taxpaying parents and guardians to send their children to kindergarten through 8th grade here in the School District. And after K-8, the family probably feels comfortable as suburbanites and pursuing other scholarships. If we want our students to be better, we need to make our schools better -- and picking and choosing our teachers with fine-toothed combs is certainly one, but only only one possible avenue.

What to do?


We need to check out the Gates genius plan, which apparently they've already sunk all this money into (money which had once felt like the "silver lining" around School District contraction and austerity).

We need to check out the "professional growth system" the teachers' union says it's already starting to utilize.

We need to see if there's any room to salvage and combine the working emerging from both investments.

We need to figure out whether en mass public schooling is sustainable in these economies and, if not, figure out whether and how we must best reconnoiter the arrangements we have relating to charter schools, vouchers and increasing privatization.

But I do have one idea. As a political progressive, I am enthusiastic about transparency, believing it to improve end results. How about going ahead and evaluating our teachers -- with any model, or with several -- and instead of utilizing the results to plan layoffs and to make other staffing decisions, simply posting them? Post them online, post them in the classroom directly behind the teacher so students can see them, send them home with every report card. Don't stop at the final scores or letter grades, but give us all the interesting details. It might motivate teacher excellence by softer and more social means!

MORE: Pure Reform, Pure Reform. There is also a teachers union election coming up which is being watched closely by a few.

31 comments:

  1. In other news ... oh, MH, say it ain't so!

    http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/pittsburgh-counsilman-to-fire-aide-for-unauthorized-purchase-634293/

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  2. Just to be clear, that's a different MH.

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  3. Maybe someone should make a Xtranormal video about this unfortunate turn of events.

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  4. Pittsburgh's own Mata Hari?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mata_Hari

    Anyway, if DPW is implicated I'd say heads should roll, but given that the items in question are chainsaws, that might not be best cliche.

    As an aside, I propose a new drinking game ... guzzle an IC Light every time Luke says, "going forward".

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  5. I hadn't seen the Post-Gazette version.

    What do you get for an $800 chain saw that you don't get for a $300 chain saw? Must be something, if they've got to serve the city for years and years. I wonder where they are, I bet now they'll turn up. There look to be at least two trails to explore.

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  6. Thinking I need some weeds wacked and firewood cut...Was told a guy named Matt might be able to help me out. Also heard he can be contacted via your blog?

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  7. We have big trees and many weeds...

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  8. Chain saws punny toys. Furs on the other hand?

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  9. Frank GiggallotiMay 3, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    Catch Basin Cleaning...if Matt had tools earlier I would have never spent a day in jail. I'm dead now...

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  10. Even with my commission, concrete sealer was still a bargin!

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  11. Frank G. Back @ you! I took fall for catch basins. You took money from Ernie Smalis. Glad you're dead...

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  12. Michelle MadoffMay 3, 2012 at 4:32 PM

    After I left City Council I experienced Vaginal Dryness and asked Council for a Grant to study my private parts. Jim Ferlo said 'something stinks'...

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  13. If Frank weren't dead, that's the way he'd spell his name!

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  14. Stupid City Folks! Why steal..? Become County Controller and expand your pay check! Legally! My dad never stole that copper...

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  15. Does this mean The Pittsburgh Hoagie will be back up?

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  16. Putting my stickers on food bank goods was not political. It was a public service announcement... I'm dead to!

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  17. F- you, Dwayne! I put my stickers everywhere... (Are pearly gates available?)

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  18. Judge ah, whats my name again?May 3, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    My pants have fallen and I can't get it up. I put quarter in parking meter and it don't vibrate...

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  19. ....sigh! Who can blame me for extended coffee break. (No Calls)

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  20. Alright, the readership has spoken. There will be a post here on ChainsawGate by Monday. It really should be about the 3rd thing on my list but we don't want the trail to get cold.

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  21. Matt Hogue fired. What a toolbag.

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  22. Remember when this was a big deal: http://pghcomet.blogspot.com/2007/01/matt-h-exposed.html

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  23. WTF was 10,000 worth of equipment doing in his basement anyways? Even if it was not stolen, was this still ok? This actually could be the greatest day of my life! Does this count as a felony?

    In other news, Anthony Coghill just hired a new campaign manager!

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  24. Have you ever tried to put a dozen chainsaws in your kitchen? The basement is a better place.

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  25. How did he get them in his car, as the salesman said?

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  26. Good things come to those who act like complete jerks!!

    http://i50.tinypic.com/1rdjme.jpg

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  27. Matt *was* Coghill's manager! And Matt's until-recently boss Kraus is close allies with Rudiak, so Matt was probably the go-between linking up Coghill and Molchany. Matt was probably walking around these past weeks feeling like quite the Queenmaker.

    I wonder if somebody got sore over that? Just puzzling over how the info got to KDKA. Can't picture Andy Sheehan rifling through a stack of routine DPW purchase orders, even those held up for a quick second by the Controller.

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  28. Yes, Matt was Coghill's manager. He is famous for that.


    Coghill OTOH is famous for tight pants and failed elections.

    They should open up a coffee bistro together.

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  29. that kid has been hinkey ever since he came o. the seen " the mayor of Elliot" at 18. then he had that MySpace page where he wS putted for being a two faced piece of you know... just hiring him showed incredibly poor judgement for krause but then kraus knew he had a backstabber on staff... dat be wit he looking fir

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  30. Oh -- http://triblive.com/news/1325742-74/saws-hogue-kraus-police-council-equipment-lamb-office-chain-bought

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