Friday, June 22, 2012

Some Questions About "Great Teachers" And HB 1234

David Montgomery is an indefatigable live event tweeter. (I really do mean that as a compliment even though calling someone a tweeter doesn't sound very complimentary.)

He tweets

Presumably, one reason for the adoration can be found in this Charlie Hoffman tweet that Montgomery retweets.

I doubt that anyone will argue that every classroom should have a great teacher.  If that's the case, why is HB 1234 premised on the fact that only 15% are great and 85% are sub par?

For the sake of argument, let's say that only 65% of South Dakota's teachers are excellent.  Under HB 1234 15% of South Dakota's teachers will be recognized as excellent when the bonuses are published as part of their salary.  Another 50% of the state's teachers will be doing an excellent job, but the public will deem them to be deficient because they weren't good enough to get a bonus.

I cannot in good conscience tell a student to consider a career in education in South Dakota when that job contains an 85% chance that that the people with whom she socializes or worships will believe she's incompetent.


Troy said...

In the world where everyone gets a participation medal so as not damage their self-esteem, your 85% comment makes sense.

However, teachers are expected to have the maturity beyond one in Kindergarten. And, they need to have more respect for their students as by the time they are 3rd graders they know not everyone can be exceptional and being good is still good.

Definitely, you made the worst argument in favor of HB1234.

LK said...

The argument wasn't in favor of HB 1234.

Second, I don't care about self-esteem. You can go through posts here to see my view of it.

The point is simple. You argue that pay will produce excellence but HB 1234 pays only 15% of the excellent people. If money is the only measure of excellence, there are other careers that pay much more without the bonus, so why would good people want to teach if there's already low pay and only a 15% chance of being paid for being "excellent."

I wish you were right that the public has a baseball view of talent: Minor leaguer, major league role player, major league starter, major league all star, hall of famer. In an ideal world, schools would employ starters, all stars, and hall of famers. Quite frankly, I think South Dakota comes pretty close to that ideal.

Over the past decade or so, the political dichotomy of only two choices--conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican--has begun to dominate most of the discussions I hear: people are either great or suck. I can't remember which hot business guy of the moment said this statement, but it was something like "We don't have places for B+ employees."

You may have been an understanding parent. I really pity the administrators who are going to have to deal with the parents who will want their students only with HB 1234 bonus teachers.

I come in contact with talented kids every day. As a debate coach, I get the privilege of spending a lot of time with some of the brightest kids South Dakota has. When asked, I tell all of them to do something other than teach. HB 1234 and the debate surrounding it will mean that fewer will ask me about teaching. They will know they should look for other careers.

LK said...
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LK said...


I know you think Daniel Pink a quack. I asked about this businessman on Madville, I'll ask you again here: why is he wrong?

troy said...

In favor of repealing HB1234 Is what I meant.

First, I thought teachers weren't motivated by pay but do it for the kids? You teachers sure jump around in your logic. And this different motive goes to Pinks analysis so you get the privilege of also arguing against the foundation of your rationale.

Second, if you hold in such low esteem your vocation, you need to change vocations.

LK said...

I'm fine with my vocation. I enjoy the subject matter and the students. The vitriol that causes me to tell students not to consider teaching is a recent phenomenon.

I have taken issue with the "for the kids rhetoric" too because it creates a rhetorical box. If it's for the kids, then teachers should never ask for a pay raise. Like the monks of old, they should just walk around the room and wait for students to through food into the hood.

Let's try this. People work for a variety of reasons: pay bills, doing something they enjoy, prepare for a time when they won't work, get a chance to save the world, a calling etc.

No one went into teaching expecting to get rich. They want an honest day's wage for an honest day's work. South Dakota's pay is low.

People want to do their job without unnecessary outside interference.

I also teach because I love detective fiction, classical mythology, and the intricate elements of literature, I also love a well tuned phrase and believe everything is an argument, so debate is great fit. And the give and take with students is rewarding.

One can live with low pay if one has reasonable autonomy and the "psychic income" that the other elements I describe provide.

The new common core standards, the SDDOE mandated Danielson mandated evaluation method, and HB 1234's testing regime that ties test scores to the evaluation process radically shrink that autonomy and dramatically reduce what can be taught because everything gets tied to the standards and the tests.

I can think of a lot of reform measures. Education needs to change parts of it's culture. The problem is that education needs to move towards a silicon valley culture but all of the reforms and trends are moving it toward an 1960s IBM culture.

Troy said...

I agree with the Silica valley comment. Pink doesn't. You are arguing against yourself.

LK said...

I'm not sure how. Pink advocates paying people enough to make money a non issue and giving them autonomy. That sounds like what Google and Apple do.

It seems that you take the idea that teachers want no accountability or evaluation. That's not my point.

By the way, I thought you'd be enjoying the fellowship of your fellow Republicans instead of reading blog posts. Hope you get some of that in this weekend

Troy said...

I am at my niece's in Wisconsin. Going to the wedding of the friend of my daughter in Milwaukee tomorrow. That is a higher priority.

LK said...

Indeed it is. Enjoy.