Stephen D. Lalonde

Click here to edit subtitle

Education Blog

Bad teachers...

Posted on January 2, 2015 at 4:30 PM

Bad teachers…

There are some. Within an enterprise as large as public education, it should be no surprise to anyone that there are some bad teachers. There are also bad doctors, bad dentists, bad lawyers (possibly redundant), bad priests, and even bad politicians (yeah…I know.)

However, those who believe that public education is failing, including those who are doing everything in their power to make that happen, obviously believe that there are masses of bad teachers in public education. They propose using standardized test scores to determine teacher quality, which is ridiculous because those tests are not designed to do that. Classroom based assessments can, in fact, contribute to showing measurable growth in specific content-based elements which may be attributed to the teacher or teachers associated with that classroom. However, there are many elements of learning that cannot be measured in any objective manner. Respect, self-confidence, social interaction, responsibility, resource and time management, are a few examples of immeasurable attributes that are commonly addressed in the classroom.

I have witnessed a few (very few) bad or ineffective teachers. The vast majority of teachers in my experience (focusing on Washington state, and specifically the districts in which I have worked) are hard working, intelligent, efficient and dedicated professionals. Unfortunately, the media effort to showcase those teachers is minimal at best, while focusing much of their media power on the few blatantly bad teachers (no teachers should ever abuse a student in any manner.)

The new teacher evaluation system in the state of Washington holds much promise for being able to document and contribute to quality professional performance. It is a much more cumbersome and time-consuming process, but I believe it does result in a much more accurate picture of the teacher's performance within the classroom. I am worried that the high level of administrative commitment of time and resources to sustain this evaluation process will result in a gradual deterioration of that process. Like nearly everything else in education today, the evaluation process is severely underfunded in both time and resources provided by the state. I truly believe that in Central Valley School District the process to develop a new evaluation tool and the instrument produced by that process represents a significant step in the right direction to contribute to professional development.

Meanwhile, more and more great teachers are choosing to leave the profession largely because of the lack of respect and support they need to do their jobs. In addition, the number of young people choosing to go into the profession is dwindling. This is evident in the growing shortage of substitute teachers and candidates for teaching positions ( many of which have gone unfilled for ridiculous periods of time in this state.) If something doesn't drastically change in the immediate future, I believe we are headed for the biggest teacher shortage in history. The politicians repeatedly say that we need to attract and retain the best and the brightest to the profession. They apparently propose to do that by reducing salaries, benefits, and the respect afforded the profession.

Categories: None