Duval’s education policies don’t address our problems.

By Greg Sampson

“In
short: the 50-state equity strategy is to blame individual teachers. Or reward
them. Blame individual
teachers
 while blithely
ignoring the real problem… a dysfunctional system that underdevelops and
undersupports teachers, and does both with impunity when it comes to students
in high-need communities. Reward
individual teachers
 while
ignoring the
empirical evidence… which
shows that working conditions are far more important than bonuses in persuading
teachers to stay or leave their classrooms.”
Good
article in Valerie Strauss’s WaPo blog, Answer Sheet. I highlight the above
quote because it speaks to a new program in Duval County about which many of us
are skeptical: Transformation schools (or as I learned yesterday are now called
DTO schools. I’ll leave to readers to ponder why DCPS leaders changed the label
for the program.)
For those desiring background knowledge, this is the
program the superintendent has entered into with private donors and community
organizations such as the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, in which teachers
with high Value-Added Model scores (VAM) will receive $17,000 to 20,000 annual
pay supplements for teaching in Jacksonville’s most struggling schools.

In
summary, what the teachers told the President and Secretary of Education is
that years of reward and punishment based upon identifying “good” and “bad”
teachers will not work. Rather, they should be establishing and promoting
policy that gives teachers the time and resources needed to improve their
practice: collaboration time, job-embedded professional development, mentoring.

But
one of the reasons students do well in China is the time teachers are given to
learn. In China teaching is a learning profession and teachers study each
other’s lessons and spend many hours crafting good lessons, teaching classes
for many less hours per week than US teachers but spending more time learning,
out of class (Stevenson, 1994; Stigler & Stevenson, 1991; quoted in a paper
by Jo Boaler, Stanford University, co-founder:
www.youcubed.org
David Foster,
Executive Director, Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative).”
Teachers need
less class time and more collaboration time. The loss of the 45 minute
collaboration time, during which all teachers in secondary schools were not
teaching classes, really hurt us this past school year.
Work suffered. Scores tumbled. One year does not prove causation; one year
cannot support correlation. But put these two together, and the pairing does
raise questions that need answering.
Teachers are
pushed all the time to collaborate, plan together, discuss data, design common
assessments, on and on. But in our district, as in the US overall, teachers
don’t receive enough time in their day to accomplish it all.

Perhaps that JPEF/DTO program money would have
been better spent giving all teachers more non-student time to work together.

One Reply to “Duval’s education policies don’t address our problems.”

  1. Pehaps teachers could get the requested additional continuuing education during the two summer months that they have off. They should get the same salary rate during that time as when they are in the classroom.

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