Frank Denton, editor of the Florida Times Union, when suing for teachers VAM scores, half their evaluations, swore they would present both sides of the education reform argument. He said so like there is a moral equivalency between the two camps, like it is just two cordial gentlemen having a disagreement and therein lies the problem because nothing could be farther from the truth.
One side doesn’t rely on facts or data because if they did they wouldn’t have chosen to use VAM scores. This is the same group that has spread misinformation about the quality of teachers for years and has run around like Chicken Little screaming teachers are failing our children. They rely on low information members of the public who have been programmed to think anything the government does is bad and who can’t be bothered with doing the research themselves
There is no moral equivalence between a side that exaggerates cherry picked stats or uses formulas like VAM that are often called junk science. This is just one more attempt to inflame peoples passions by saying our public schools are failing because of all the bad teachers, and now they can point to VAM scores which even if accurate would just present a small sliver of the story.
Education reformers were all smiles as the DOE at the assistance of the Times Union released teachers VAM scores, as they can use them to sell their “school choice” agenda but what they are actually selling is privatization and marginalizing teachers, a dedicated and hard working group that sacrifice so much, has been a successful strategy so far.
Then there is Denton, like an arms dealer who says to himself I just proved the weapons I don’t pull the trigger who is trying to imply there is some moral equivalency between corporate reformers and those fighting for true, evidence based reform, where teachers are treated like professionals.
He can’t hide behind Journalism with this one. He can’t try and justify it away.
Is it too much to ask that teacher evaluations be based on legitimate measures? Is it to much to ask that people look at the totality of what they do? The Times Union obviously thinks so as it rushes to print the scores.
This is just one more blow to the teaching profession which in recent years has had to endure low pay, attacks to their pensions and work protections, people who have never been in a classroom saying their experience and ability don’t matter as well as ratcheting up the demands. Already nearly half of all teachers don’t last 5 years and people and forget that just a few years ago we were recruiting in Canada, India and the corporate world because we couldn’t find enough teachers to staff our classrooms. What’s going to happen when teachers are even more marginalized by the release of VAM scores?
There is no moral equivalency between the two sides and to imply there is, is disingenuous at best but most likely it makes one complicit with the side that wants to outsource, not improve, our kids education and fundamentally change the teaching profession, changing teachers from professionals to the equivalent of Burger King Workers.
There is a saying making traction, “those that can teach, those that can’t make laws about teaching” and this is what’s happening in Florida to the detriment of our children schools and teachers and the Times Union has just put another nail in the coffin that the teaching profession has become.
About a year ago a paper in New York printed the addresses of all the registered gun owners in their town and it was perfectly legal for them to do so. People though were rightfully outraged. The Times Union should have learned from their mistake that just because you can do something it doesn’t mean that they should.
When the Times Union decided to print the VAM scores of area teachers they said selling a few papers was worth selling out the regions teachers. VAM creates a prediction and then grades teachers on whether they made that prediction or not. I don’t know about you but I want to be evaluated on what I did do not on what some complicated mathematical formula says it thinks I should do, a formula by the way that have been known to generate scores off by several standard deviations.
Not only does VAM not take into account attendance, behavior, parental involvement, poverty and so many other factors but more than half the teachers evaluated are done so on students they have never seen in their classroom or on subjects they did not teach and that not the scores is what the Times Union should be telling the public. The TU is acting like a gun runner who tells them self I just provide the guns I don’t pull the trigger in an attempt to ease their conscious of the firestorm that this is going to create.
Parents have long had a remedy if they wanted to see their teachers past evaluations and that is to go to the school board building and to check out their files. Now the Times Union has just given them a contextless set of numbers that for the most part aren’t based on what is happening in the classroom.
Teachers already have a tough enough job and have already had to sacrifice so much in Florida over the last few years that they shouldn’t have to endure this indignation. The Times Union should be fighting to help the profession not to further harm it.
Teachers are not afraid of getting evaluated, they just want to be done so fairly and shame on the state of Florida for coming up with the VAM method that no respecting education policy maker or mathematician for that matter say should be used to evaluate teachers and shame on the Times Union for doubling down on this tragedy and making them available. Selling a few papers shouldn’t be more important than doing what is right.