Thursday, April 26, 2007

If They Can't Drive, Should They Have This Power?

Our state, Texas, is currently being lobbied via radio ads to support a bill that claims to "support good teachers." That is a bit of a misdirection. What the bill intends to do is pay a stipend to teachers based on their students' achievement. On paper that may seem harmless or even beneficial. But in reality what it will do is leave many teachers at the mercy of their students. In some cases, that isn't a bad thing, but let's face it, out there in lala land, there are parents that think it's no big deal for a kid to take a day off from school. I have had parents write excuses ranging from as serious as a death in the family to as assinine as "getting a tan before prom." Now there are reasons to be absent. As I have posted before, I don't like kids coming to my classroom sick. It isn't healthy, it spreads viruses and I am always the first one to catch anything coming down the pike. In addition, AYP is based on total students in attendance. When kids start taking off for silly reasons, our rating suffers. The final blow with the tie in between testing and income is that there are kids who do not care what they make on the test. They could be brilliant, but they stall and sleep and do everything they can to drag out the test and avoid going to class. TAKS week is a nightmare because I don't see half my classes at all. And that includes my AP classes. Should we really base pay and compensation on the whim of someone who will take an unnamed pill or sneak out to a party? Parents say we must, but those are quite often the same parents who write totally lame and unfounded excuses for everything from absences to missing homework. At what point are the adults going to take charge again? More and more teachers are leaving education due to burn out. Thank God my class isn't a core class, and I would rather cut off my right arm than ever teach a Language Arts class again. What was begun as an experiment to produce drones for H. Ross Perot's little Metropolis, have become the Golem of Doom that stomps and slaughters without rhyme or reason. This type of bill, that would set compensation based on test scores will make teaching even more remote, push those with marginal students to cheat, and lead to scores of lawsuits. I just don't see this as being worthwhile. But then again, according to these same folks teachers should be facilitators and all our technology should be geared to do the teaching. RIIIIIIIIIGGGGHHHHHHHHT.

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