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“Evaluating Teachers” – Blogging my thoughts

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January 12, 2010

I just read Bob Herbert’s OP-ED piece about teacher evaluations in today’s New York Times (page A-19).

What has to be considered is the actual learning and teaching against a student’s resistance grounded in social disadvantage rather than the learning and teaching of students helped and enhanced by social advantages. The teachers in the latter category will shine and those in the former one will teach on against incredible odds, many of them burning out. Of course “good teachers” will be sent to the schools enjoying social and economic advantages and often really bad teachers are sent to the disadvantaged schools. What’s wrong with this picture?

If I paddle my canoe against the current of a river, it can take all my strength merely not to lose ground and go backward; while canoeing with the current allows me to lift the paddle, even make mistakes, and still make further headway with ease.  There is honesty concerning telling lies, but there is also emotional honesty. What about honestly facing the incredibly difficult social conditions our students come from.

Sylvia Ashton’s book, Teacher has always inspired me. She found creative ways to teach the Maori children of New Zealand. The society of that day did not thank her and honor her, but bull-dozed her school into the ground. Do we honestly value education for the disadvantaged? Doesn’t our “education” intend to rearrange prejudices rather than overcome them, as the saying goes? Why do we want to evaluate teachers so much when we don’t value them?

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Written by peterkrey

January 13, 2010 at 7:20 pm

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