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David said in July 9th, 2010 at 5:01 pm

As a former teacher at a low performing school in a high poverty area, I agree with the suggestion that some teachers are more likely to be laid off than others.

Look at it from the district perspective. If you have a low performing school that has repeatedly failed to meet AYP, who are you going to blame? Will you blame the parents for failing to support education? Will you blame years of neglect which, prior to the advent of standardized testing, allowed students to be “socially promoted” even though the children in question lacked the academic prerequisites to succeed at the next grade level? Will you blame the school or district leadership that failed to provide pull out programs for tutorial assistance and remediation? Will you blame the building administration for failing to follow through on students with chronic absenteeism?

Who will you blame?

The answer is simple. Blame the teacher.

Never mind the fact that the students at this school had chronic attendance problems. Ignore the fact that when parents were called because of their child’s disruptive behavior, the parent said things like, “Well what do you expect me to do about the problem? You’re the teacher!” Ignore also the fact that it’s practically impossible for students who are 2-3 years deficient in all subject areas to pass a grade level test for reading, writing, and math.

If a district suffers a budgetary shortfall because of state deficits, no problem. Districts can trim their budgets by cutting jobs. They can also tell the state education department that “drastic changes” were made at schools that failed to meet AYP. This will effectively buy the district more time even though nothing substantive has really changed.

This policy is a win-win for everyone except the poor unfortunate students who have to attend this school and their equally unfortunate teachers who are nothing more than fall guys in the district’s annual blame game with the state department of education.

If we truly want to make a difference at low performing schools in high poverty areas, we need to give these schools more resources. We need to address truancy, student behavior, hunger, and neglect. We need to provide tutorial assistance. We also need to staff these schools with the most experienced teachers we can find.

Novice educators are well intentioned but novice teachers also need 2-3 years of actual hands-on teaching experience before they should be placed in challenging environments like those found at low performing schools.

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eduskeptic said in July 12th, 2010 at 5:06 pm

David,
Thanks for taking the time to read and reply to my Eduskeptic efforts. Much appreciated. A very lucid response as well.
Charlie, Eduskeptic