As promised, this morning brought the publishing of teacher ratings, including VAM scores, with a map and a pearl-clutching interview with the district's superintendent. The gap is shocking, alarming, inexplicable.
I'm speaking of course of the apparent gap between Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson's brain and reality. How does somebody with this gigantic an inability to process data end up as a superintendent of a major school system?
Superintendent Johnson is shocked-- shocked!!-- to find that under this evaluation system, it turns out that all the worst teachers are working in all the poorest schools! Hmmm-- the poorest schools have the worst results. What's the only possible explanation? Teachers!! [Pause for the sound of me banging my head on the desk.]
“It’s alarming that it took this to understand where teachers are,” Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson said Friday. “We probably knew that, but now have the hard evidence. It made me think about how we need to change our staffing and retention.”
No, Superintendent Johnson. What's alarming is that you don't understand a damn thing.
Here's what you have "discovered." If you rip the roof off a classroom, the teachers that you send to teach in that classroom will get wet when it rains. You cannot "fix" that by changing the teacher.
But apparently that's the solution being considered. "Okay," says Superintendent Johnson. "Over here we have teachers who stay dry and their students stay dry, so we'll put this dry teacher in the classroom without a roof and have a dry teacher for the wet rooms. That'll fix it."
And Superintendent Johnson appears willing to go further. "Maybe we just need to fire the wet teachers and replace them with new, dry ones," she may be thinking. [Sound of me banging my head against the concrete slab of my basement floor.]
If you want a dry teacher in the room, build a damn roof on it.
Look. Look look look look look. We already know that poverty absolutely correlates with test results. Show me your tests results and I will show you where your low-income students are. Poverty and lack of resources and underfunding put these students in a classroom without a roof, and anybody you put in there with them will be a wet teacher.
Build a damn roof.
Minneapolis public school officials say they are already taking
immediate action to balance schools’ needs with teachers’ abilities. The
district has created programs to encourage effective instructors to
teach at high-needs schools and mentor the newest teachers. District
officials say they are providing immediate training for teachers who are
deficient. And last year, the district fired more than 200 teachers,
roughly 6 percent of its teaching staff.
Wrong. All wrong. In fact, worse than wrong, because you are now in the position of saying, "Hey, over here we have a room with no roof on it, and if you teach in there and get wet when it rains, we intend to punish you. Now-- who wants to volunteer to teach in the roofless room?? Also, we'll probably smear your good name in the local paper, too. Any takers?"
And to the students, sitting in that roofless room day after day, shivering and wet as poverty and lack of resources and insufficient materials and neglect by the central office rain down on them, this sends a terrible message. "We know you are sick and wet in your roofless room," says the district. "So we are not sending a roof or even ponchos or an umbrella. We're not going to spend a cent more on you. We're just going to stand a different teacher up in front of you, to see if she gets wet when it rains."
It is absolutely mind-boggling that a group of presumably educated allegedly intelligent adults can look at data and get the interpretation of it exactly completely backwards. Minneapolis school leaders are looking at data that tells them exactly where they need to focus resources, support, funding, and build a roof. Instead, they are going to blame the whole complex of information on teachers.
They are going to blame teachers for getting wet in the rain.
I'm so sorry Minneapolis teachers. Apparently you work for dopes, and given the publishing of your ratings in the morning paper, fairly malicious dopes at that.
This is the worst. This is the absolute worst version of reformster foolishness, slandering and upending an entire city's worth of teachers. I don't know any Minneapolis teachers, have never met any, but even sight unseen, I know they-- and their students-- deserve better than this.