Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Vergara decision: The big picture

Sent to the San Francisco Chronicle
In response to:

The Vergara decision is part of a movement to eliminate the teaching profession.

The other fronts of this war include the accusation that our schools are failing because of bad teaching, preferential hiring of Teach for America temps, flipped classrooms with most teaching done by computers, the elimination of seniority pay, and evaluation of teachers using test-score gains.

Our unspectacular international test scores are the result of poverty, not teaching quality: The US has the second highest level of child poverty among all 34 economically advanced countries (23%, compared to Finland’s 5%). When researchers control for the effect of poverty, American scores on international tests are at the top of the world.

There is no evidence that Teach for America teachers do better, no data supporting flipped classrooms, and no data showing that less experienced teachers are better. Evaluating teachers using test-score gains is inaccurate: Different tests produce different ratings, and a teacher’s ratings often vary from year to year.
Firing teachers based on unreliable measures, eliminating tenure (really due process), and devaluating experience will reduce the number of teachers. They will be replaced with unproven technology, a boondoggle for computer companies but a disaster for students.

Stephen Krashen

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