In the great state of California, 99.3% of the teachers are rated excellent but only 46% of their students are rated proficient. Huh?
There's a strong movement underway in much of America today to place the education of our kids on the priority list of public schools. Why do we have schools anyway, if not to educate our young people?
That nationwide movement and appreciation of the raison d'etre for schools, however, apparently haven't yet reached the California political class.
California's School Head Fake has another sickening political story about teachers' unions and their strength among the political class. The editorial is subtitled 'Sacramento tries to strip student performance from teacher evaluations:'
"Covering the skulduggery in Sacramento is a full-time job, and sometimes it's
hard to keep up, but we'll try. The latest example is an education bill that
seeks to pre-empt a recent court order requiring that teachers be evaluated in
part on student test scores. As always, the unions are getting the last
The school reform movement is sweeping the country as even many liberal
Democrats seek to unite with parents against the union establishment. The Obama
Administration has helped at the margin by making teacher accountability a
factor in requests for more federal aid. Half of states now link teacher
evaluations with student learning, and another half dozen are moving in that
direction. Then there's California, which is doing a moon-walk on school reform.
In 1971 the state passed the Stull Act requiring that teacher evaluations
take into account student progress. The legislature amended the law twice in the
1990s to make state standardized test scores a criterion for measuring progress.
However, since most school boards take their marching orders from the unions,
the law has been largely ignored. That was until a handful of parents last year
sued the Los Angeles Unified School District for noncompliance.
In June Superior Court Judge James Chalfant ordered the district to include
student test scores in teacher evaluations in accordance with the law. As the
judge noted, something's amiss when 99.3% of teachers receive the highest grade
on their evaluations, but only 46% of students score proficient on language arts
state tests. The ruling set a precedent for parents across the state to demand
that their districts also obey Stull.
This has alarmed the unions, which ordered their friends in the legislature
to supercede the Los Angeles court order and ward off more legal challenges. The
Assembly has dutifully passed a bill, which the Senate is now considering, that
makes teacher evaluations entirely subject to collective bargaining. The bill
would supposedly require evaluations to measure student academic growth, but
that too would be subject to union negotiations.
Here's the kicker. Governor Jerry Brown and state Superintendent Tom
Torlakson think they can sell this legislation as genuine reform to U.S.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who should know better. According to Mr.
Torlakson, the bill would make the state's application for a No Child Left
Behind waiver "more attractive."
Only in the eyes of the union beholders and beholden. One of the Education
Department's criteria for a waiver is that states link a significant share of
teacher evaluations to student achievement and test scores.
The anti-reformers are betting the White House will bend because it needs
union support this fall. If Mr. Duncan does oblige, he'll be undermining his own
standards for federal aid and betraying California students."
Unions are supporting the Democrats. Democrats are supporting the unions.
Who's supporting the education of our kids in California?
Not the politicians. Not the teachers' unions.
Something's seriously wrong when 99.3% of the teachers are rated excellent and only 46% of the kids are even proficient. Wonder what?
It seems to me that there are two possible answers to the above question: Either (1) almost all of the kids are in fact doing excellent classroom work and therefore being graded much too harshly; or (2) less than all the California teachers are wonderful while being given an automatic 'A' grade?
I'll guess that #2 is the correct answer.
Politics sucks. So do unions.