As promised, here is an update on Public schools vs billionaires: Vergara v California. Please follow the link for the back story.
My first Vergara post caused a bit of a stir, but that's a good thing for a couple of reasons: One, that means people are paying attention, and two, it means they care enough to communicate, and communication is everything.
So, per my sources, yesterday the Vergara trial resumed. The defense had two interesting key witnesses.
The first was Dr. Robert Fraisse. You've probably never heard of him, but he has a 40 year career in education. He was a classroom teacher, assistant principal, counselor and superintendent of several different school districts and now he's head of the school of education at California Lutheran University. This man knows what he's talking about.
He made some really important key points during his testimony. First, it's important to note that the education administration expert said that permanent status (aka tenure) is important. Teaching conditions matter and giving teachers stability helps attract the best teachers to a district. He made it clear that having due process through tenure doesn't mean you're protecting bad teachers... and that he was able to remove ineffective teachers even after they had tenure.
To clarify: Their case is that tenure protects bad teachers. One of the top people in the education field just showed that they are wrong. Moving on...
Another key point he made was about how the achievement gap is actually an opportunity gap: “I believe that the achievement gap is really an opportunity gap, and that is an all-of-the-above proposition in terms of looking at things as important as prenatal counseling for moms who are pregnant, preschool opportunities.”
But the part that stood out the most for me was when Fraisse began talking about the arts. As a former theater instructor, I can tell you first hand that you can't measure that work on a standardized test. It's not even an option. Impossible.
Fraisse got into the unintended consequences of Standardized testing. Because that's how these ed deformers label bad teachers, based on test scores. One word: Oy.
Fraisse said: "And in my opinion, based upon my experience, it would be a narrowing of the curriculum if we simply had teacher evaluations based on a standardized test score. "
"Certainly it would go away from the full breadth of offerings in music and the arts; which I'm not even sure how you would measure by a standardized test whether that music teacher, whether that art teacher or shop teacher, is doing a great job and making a difference in the lives of kids."
Think about that. You can't measure the difference we make in the lives of kids based on a test score. My personal experience: A few of my students told me that what we did in our theater classes saved their lives. Literally. Test scores don't register that kind of impact, now do they?
The trial continued with testimony of Christine McLaughlin. She was named by one of the defendants as a bad teacher. But what do you know! It turns out that she was a a Pasadena Unified Teacher of the Year. During her testimony she was revealed to be a highly-qualified, highly-lauded and incredibly innovative teacher. Yeah, real "bad."
As the LA School Report points out, McLaughlin successfully refuted the accusations against her.
To be continued. As Rachel Maddow would say, "Watch this space."