Here’s the video of Wednesday’s segment of The Filter. We ended up talking about the LA Times Grading the Teacher series and the fact that teachers and the teacher’s union both continue to feel deeply angered that the Times published their ratings of thousands of individual teachers in the paper—labeling elementary school instructors as MOST EFFECTIVE and LEAST EFFECTIVE, all based on a single metric—whether their students’ scores on standardized tests improved enough from one year to the next.
Teachers rightly argue that many of the qualities that make for great educators are a bit more complicated and subtle than anything standardized test scores can possibly measure.
As you’ll see, I read portions on air of an emailed comment I got here from one of those teachers who was rated.
It was from an elementary school teacher who describes herself as deeply dedicated but who was one of those who was listed as: LEAST EFFECTIVE by the LA Times.
This teacher doesn’t subscribe to the LA Times, so she only found out about her rating when some TV news reporter got her home phone number and called her to ask how she felt about the label.
I have no idea whether or not she is a brilliant teacher or a mediocre one. But her shock and grief at the one dimensional public judgment—and invalidation really— of her years of teaching work, really affected me.
Here’s what she wrote:
I give 150%. I teach in south central. I love my students. I motivate. I question them. I make them question themselves. I love my job. I teach. I learn. I take the kids no one else wants and I love them.
I was rated least effective.
I am heart-broken, devastated, invalidated, and completely feel like my hard work was taken away in one moment.
Least effective. The label is over my head. I feel like everyone now thinks I’m a bad teacher– when all I’ve ever done is teach my children.
They do make progress…but when they come to me at 2nd grade level, it is difficult to test them at 5th grade level. They raise about 30% in a year, but that’s not good enough.
I am embarrassed to go back to work. I am mortified that friends and colleagues looked up my name and saw my ‘grade’.
I just want to crawl into a hole. And die.
As a parent who sent her kid to public schools, I want our state’s teachers to be rewarded based on merit, not seniority. I want the best and the brightest to be retained, and those who are phoning it in, or are burned out, or who actively dislike kids—and we’ve all met some of those—to be weeded out.
But, I can’t believe that publicly humiliating hardworking elementary school teachers is the best path to the kind of merit-based standards that we need and desire.
What do you think?