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[Susan notes: This teacher's fine letter makes us realize how rarely teachers are heard.]

Published in Sacramento Bee
10/29/2010

To the editor

Teachers aren't the problem



It is offensive that people continue to attack teachers (and unions, a.k.a., teachers collectively) for education's problems. I am a classroom teacher and am also actively involved in my teachers union. Let me share some information with those who don't seem to "get it."



Unions are made up of teachers. We are the ones who are in the classrooms doing the work every day. Teachers are not wealthy businesspeople who have a stake in seeing education fail. In fact, we care about children and choose to work with them to help them succeed.



Teacher effectiveness is hotly debated. Value-added is the cry for some. However, studies show that value-added ratings are unstable. The ratings based on one year are weak predictors of value-added ratings the next year.



Reforming education requires asking help from teachers. Ask us how we know when students are learning. Ask us how we know when they don't and what we do to support them. You want to know how to evaluate effective teachers? Ask us how we evaluate ourselves.





Shannan Brown


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