What It Really Means to Have a Sad and Heavy Heart

by lclarcq on April 3rd, 2015

filed under Archived Posts 2015

This week our lawmakers, led by our governor, created a system which will change the face of the teaching population in New York State. If you are unsure of what happened, I’ll ask you to read here, as Carol Bullis, a NYC principal states it quite clearly.

I work very hard to stay positive and to inspire others to do the same. However, I am not an idiot. I see, very clearly, some things that will happen to the profession in NYS in the next five years:

We will become a divided state educationally: High-achieving and low-achieving districts.
(We already are in many ways, but this will be striking.)


In high-achieving (ie wealthy) districts:

1. School districts with strong financial and community support will continue to grow, develop and flourish. They will probably do so at an even faster rate. Why? Our chancellor, Merryl Tisch, is hoping to exclude these districts from the requirements created by this legislature.

2. In addition, these districts will receive additional “bonuses” from the state for their outstanding performances.

3. Families who can will move to these districts and teachers who can will seek to move there to teach.

4. Families with special needs students, who have enough money, will move there even faster.

In low-achieving (ie urban and rural districts w/o a strong tax base that rely on state aid)

1. Because they will be subjected to ALL of the new regulations, while teachers in other districts will not, there will be a large movement to leave. Some will look to be hired in a high-achieving district, others will simply leave the profession.

2. Those who remain will be subjected to onerous micromanagement, continual pressure to get students to “perform” and demeaning evaluations that are not designed to improve instruction.

3. Some who cannot function well under such a high-pressure environment will leave, despite how much they care for children and, in the past, have helped countless students to achieve and to believe in themselves.

4. Others will find it nearly immoral to “teach” students under these conditions, which include scripted lessons, state-created and mandated evaluations, and the guarantee that a certain percentage of students will be rated as failing, DESPITE THEIR ACHIEVEMENTS (research “cut scores” for more information)

5. Others will leave because those in power deciding what is “effective” teaching and what is not have NO background in a real classroom, and have never worked with children.

6. NO teachers will ever be rated as “highly effective” in these districts because they cannot afford to pay these teachers the “promised” $20,000 annual bonus. NO administrator who wants to keep his/her job would rate them “highly effective” in an observation, regardless of what happened in the classroom. These administrators often do not make $20,000 more annually than their teaching counterparts.

7. Without a ‘highly effective” rating in observations, it is much more difficult to acquire even an “effective” rating. Without an “effective” rating, a teacher will no longer have CERTIFICATION, much less a job.

8. Another requirement of the new recertification process will be a required (not yet determined) number of professional training hours approved by the state (but also not yet identified). These districts do not have the funding to pay for this training. So:

a. Teachers who are already working for much lower salaries (the difference between rural upstate NY salaries and wealthier districts can vary as much as $40,000 for the same amount of training, education and experience.) will be required to pay out of pocket for the coursework/training necessary for recertification.

or

b. These districts will only be hiring teachers with 0-3 years of experience who will work no more than 5 years in that district and move on. (If those teachers can be found.)

This kind of turnover is already one of many reasons why students in low-achieving
schools are not able to do as well as their counterparts in wealthier districts. This
legislation will only exacerbate the situation.

9. “Games” will be played and “moves” will be made so that districts can show, on paper, that “growth” is occurring. There are two groups of students who do not show “growth”: Students who need educational support and students who are highly gifted. Neither of these groups development and growth is the sort that shows up well on the standardized testing required by the state. Districts, in order to stay alive, will do whatever is necessary in terms of course offerings and student placement. None of these decisions will be in the best interest of students, EVEN THOUGH THIS IS WHAT TEACHERS AND ADMINISTRATORS DESPERATELY WANT!!

10. Class sizes will be larger. Much larger. There will be fewer teachers available and “growth” looks greater when there is a greater diversity of achievement in the cohort.

These are only a few things that will change the face of education for New York State students. What will happen when low-achieving districts do not meet state-mandated achievement levels? What will happen with these districts do not meet state-mandated certification requirements?

THEY WILL STOP RECEIVING STATE AID.

I’m not kidding.

How will that problem be solved?

No one is saying, but I’m betting that it will line the pockets of the folks that created the information and the pressure needed to get this legislation in the first place. It certainly will not benefit the people who live, love and work in these communities.

with love and sadness,
Laurie

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