There's a Big Problem With Time's Teacher-Bashing Cover Story
So someone with enormous power in a system thinks the problems is that he needs more power. Got it.
Time does admit that teacher job protections used to be important:
But nowadays, such protections are used to protect the bad apples, which is obvious to anyone who watches sensationalistic coverage of public schools:
Turns out that if people are exposed to wildly unrepresentative horror stories about abusive teachers, it impacts how they feel about job protections.
But back to the main point: Time reports that Welch and his ilk were able to find "a flood of new academic research on teacher quality " to back up their hunch that bad teachers are the problem. One research team relied on a "a controversial tool called value-added measures (VAM)" to measure teacher effectiveness, and they "found that replacing a poorly performing teacher with an excellent one could increase students' lifetime earnings by $250,000 per classroom."
So there's a technique that supposedly measures teacher quality, and you can sue public schools that fail to adopt it. Does anyone have a problem with this approach? Of course. Teachers, for example, and their unionsĂ˘€“who are, shockingly, never quoted in Time's piece.
But we do get some outside perspectives: one researcher for a "conservative education think tank," andĂ˘€Â¦ another analyst for a conservative think tank (Michael McShane of the American Enterprise Institute). That's where Time went when it needed to find critics.There are, of course, plenty of other analysts who could critique the Silicon Valley approach.
But then, at the end of the piece, we finally get to the heart of the matter: Do these statistical models that purport to give us objective data on teacher effectiveness actually do what they claim?
Huh. "Irony" might be the right term to describe the problem here: The wealthy interests who claim they have found a system for measuring teacher quality may in fact have no such system at allĂ˘€“but are nonetheless attempting to use their power to make decisions about who should remain in the classroom. This is the fundamental problem; but for Time, you explain this is in the second-to-last-paragraph of the piece, where the magazine spells out the doubts about these "value added" models:
So the whole foundation of this approach to "fixing" American public schools could very well be bogus? If that's the argument--which, it should be stressed, is not new (Extra!, 4/11)--then why is this at the end of the piece? And why doesn't the cover advertise the fact that the millionaires "saving" public education could very well be relying on a highly flawed method of sorting out the "bad apples"?
When you're profiling millionaires who prefer "concrete facts" to "taking sides" in their drive to "repair" public schools, it seems like you might want to do more to emphasize what the facts are.
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