Archive for the ‘ASSESSING TEACHERS’ Tag

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: ONTARIO’S PREMIER DISCUSSES WHY SHE PAID TEACHERS’ UNIONS TO NEGOTIATE – PUBLIC EDUCATION OUT OF CONTROL – FOOLISH TEACHERS’ COLLEGES – NO MANAGEMENT ANYWHERE IN EDUCATION   Leave a comment

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE TORONTO STAR

This is the dumbest, most Daltonesque stunt yet by McGuinty’s successor.

Unions are private organizations whose job is to get concessions from employers.

The teachers’ unions are already well endowed because their members are well endowed, thanks to taxpayers.

Paying the unions money because you change the way negotiations are conducted is an idea straight from cloudcuckooland, and it should make clear to everyone in what a sad state of affairs we find ourselves. Quite possibly, the original change in the structure of negotiations was itself a hare-brained idea.

But then I must remember the Premier and her Education Minister are both former teachers.

God, will no one ever make a serious effort to get control over public education?

It is simply out of control.

Teachers who’ve left the classroom run the entire thing from principals to directors and to the Education Ministry.

Not only is the average public school teacher not skilled at management, many of them aren’t even very good teachers because they have no special knowledge or strong motivation.

Unions belong in steel mills and plumbing shops, if anywhere, and not in schools. The very fact that they are there and function the way they do supports the previous observation about teachers’ skills.

The proof is in the pudding: Ontario’s schools are not overly successful, and they are not even close to world-class. They are so-so, but they cost a fortune to run, almost all of it in the form of salaries and benefits.

Our teachers often can’t use a computer, and computers have not been integrated into how we educate children. There are computer programs which should have replaced paper exercise sheets and even text books long ago, but Ontario doesn’t exploit their learning strengths and cost reductions. Self-correcting programs designed by really capable people expert in their fields will beat the average drone teacher hands down in communicating a subject. They also can provide greater challenges to brighter students while allowing slower ones to go at a suitable pace.

We only get fraudulent reforms from our government such as making teachers’ college a two-year program. Twice as much of nothing is still nothing, and it costs everyone twice as much. All this “reform” did was grandfather a lot of college staff who would have lost their jobs under mandated reduced student enrolments, itself a simple management housekeeping task which should have been done years ago. Teachers’ colleges are where to go if you want to witness junk-science being taught as professional-level material. Moreover, they are staffed, again, with teachers who have left the classroom. Ridiculous.

We are backward in our public education, but the people responsible for the fact are never accountable and only ever want more pay and privileges, and our silly government is always ready to give it to them, sometimes even in elaborately disguised ways.

There are no checks or controls over the quality of our public education. No one assesses our teachers for their knowledge, curiosity about what is new, classroom demeanor, or methods at any point in what may be some forty years of exposing young minds to them. The only assessment ever is the fiasco that goes on in the teachers’ colleges. Their superiors, the principles, are only ex-teachers who’ve taken additional piles of academically-undemanding courses at a teachers’ college. They know nothing of management except by accident.

There are no able managerial people handling public education’s vast resources. None. If you have been exposed to a number of board superintendents and directors, you know how just how ineffectual a bureaucrat can be. They pretty much beat anything in all the old jokes about government agencies.

Local curricula for the most part are just nonsense because there is only a world curriculum if you want to be competitive.

Our public education today is a one-way trip to nowhere.

JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: MERIT PAY FOR TEACHERS AGAIN – A WASTE OF BREATH TO DISCUSS – EDUCATION IMPROVEMENT NEEDS GREAT CHANGES   Leave a comment


 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSE TO AN EDITORIAL IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Merit pay for teachers is a totally unworkable idea, and it is that for many reasons.

If you genuinely embrace the concept of merit pay – that is, better-than-average pay for excellent performance – you must, for logical and economic consistency, also embrace less-than-average pay for under-performing teachers.

Only in that way is there a genuine incentive for improved performance at all levels, and only in that way is there a genuine appraisal of performance at all levels.

Yet that part of the merit-pay idea is never discussed: we hear only about extra pay for superior performance. In effect, such a one-sided system would be bribery for favored teachers.

Extra pay for supposedly superior teachers is guaranteed under current arrangements to be nothing but a giveaway of billions to no genuine effect.

And try selling the idea of full-range merit pay to the teachers’ union, the same organization which works day and night protecting the jobs of incompetent teachers almost the way the Catholic Church has protected its abusive priests.

And which of our generally spineless politicians would show the courage and tenacity for a fight with that monopoly organization? Imagine Dalton McGuinty standing up the teachers, a man who has done nothing but shovel money at them to keep his political peace?

And what is average performance? The way our public education is organized, it would be impossible to establish because teachers, once they are hired permanently, are never assessed. There are no meaningful measurements or standards.

You cannot use only student performance because some teachers are assigned to schools where families are successful and expect performance, providing encouragement and resources, while some teachers are assigned to schools where families are broken or unsuccessful, sometimes barely feeding their children and having no high expectations.

You cannot use the official curriculum as a standard against which to measure because it is pretty much a poor pile of generalities and frantic efforts to appear comprehensive rather than a specific set of measurable requirements.

Further, there is no qualified, experienced body of people to do the assessing. Once Ontario did have such people, but the concept of regular assessment died decades ago.

Moreover, our entire public education system is essentially run by teachers – perhaps its greatest source of weakness. Principals are generally just teachers who wanted out of the classroom. Superintendents and directors are just teachers again who’ve piled up lots of puff education courses – and truly there are few other kind at our colleges of education where academic standards are low.

There is no perspective in any of these officials beyond a kind of generalized public-school teacher perspective, and that gets us nowhere.

One assumes that the whole idea of merit pay is to increase the effectiveness of our schools. The only way to do that is to compete with world standards of performance, and we don’t do that with our present system. It will take far more than merit pay.