Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Access Costs $500 Cheap!

Teach Plus, yet another arm of the Gates-funded reformy octopus, is a fan of several fictions. They believe that test scores measure teacher effectiveness, yet they fail to understand how that model of evaluation guarantees that students in high-poverty schools will always be taught be "ineffective" teachers (I explain it many places, but this one works pretty well).

Teach Plus also wants to be out there helping the feds with their initiative to somehow get great teachers to volunteer to have their test-based ratings gutted by moving to high-poverty schools. They are creating special teams of "turnaround" specialists (because some schools are just determined to drive the bus into the weeds, so they require wiser teachers to re-steer them? The term "turnaround" always puzzles me, suggesting as it does that some schools are actually doing every single thing wrong, which in turn suggests that some administrators must be stunningly incompetent, in which case how will it make a whit of difference to change the teachers?) Teach Plus is also one of many reformster groups to resolutely ignore that special cognitive dissonance involved in saying 1) teachers don't really start to get good till three years in and 2) TFA is just swell.

At any rate, as we enter the holiday season, Teach Plus wants your money.

Your donation will support our leadership programs, helping to ensure that every student gets the education he deserves.

Super! Like any good money-soliciting not-actually-a-charity, they offer levels of giving. $5K helps support one of their turnaround specialists. $2.5K sponsors a teaching fellow for 18 months of stuff. $1.5K helps train a teacher to indoctrinate his fellow teachers in Common Core whiz-bangery. And $500-- well, this is special.

$500 enables a teacher to meet with state or federal policymakers.

What? That's it. Access is that cheap? All of the millions of teachers who have been ignored by policymakers, and all we need was $500 for admission to an Important Office.

Now, at first I was offended that I needed to spend money to meet with one of my elected representatives, but then I realized that's not what it says. Policymakers are not necessarily actual elected officials. So maybe, I don't know, the money gets me a seat in the gallery at the next ALEC convocation? A meeting with David Coleman? Or maybe it really will give some lucky teacher a chance to meet with an actual elected official, which would be exciting since those are two sorts of people who almost never meet. The possibilities are endless.

Now, I caution against premature exuberance. It's possible that Teach Plus got some sort of deal by buying bulk, and $500 will not get access for ordinary civilian teacher persons. But if $500 is even ballpark, we could finally get teachers in some meetings with people who, you know, actually get listened to when laws are passed.

Let's all ask Teach Plus how this works. Is the admission fee handled by the policymaker's office, or is this something you buy at, like, Ticketron or Expedia? Do we have to book way in advance (like Price Is Right) or can we make an impulse buy when we have a chance to take a trip?

I realize it isn't a Seat at the Table, but we already know it takes a cool millions of dollars to buy in at that game. But still. Meeting with a policymaker-- it could be a start. My biggest question is this-- $500 is great to meet with a policymaker, but how much more do I have to pay to get him to actually listen to me?

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