On Thursday, the Seattle Teacher's Union, fighting back against the rising tide of high stakes testing and academic standardization that is being dressed up in this country as "education reform," achieved a magnificent victory for our children. After tense, hard fought negotiations they approved a contract by a 70% to 30% margin that will not tie teacher's evaluations, jobs, or pay to student test scores, and fights back many of the other "privatizing" aspects of so-called reforms being forced upon professional educators by political and business leaders.
The subsequent vote of "no confidence" in Superintendent Dr. Marie Goodloe-Johnson was nearly unanimous.
Seattle teachers will not have their livelihoods dependent upon a standardized testing regimen that has been proven to be an ineffective, capricious method for evaluating teachers (I highly recommend clicking on this link if you harbor any lingering doubt about what I'm writing). They will now be evaluated by a plan based upon the work of Charlotte Danielson, a well-documented and researched evaluation method designed around the principles of good teaching practices and professional development rather than the hack saw approach of "rewards and punishments" which relies upon little more than the vagaries of student performance on tests.
Why is this good for our children? Because Seattle teachers will not be forced, upon penalty of losing their jobs, to set aside everything they know about good teaching, and instead narrowly focus on their students ability to pass math and reading tests. The union made it clear that they welcome a rigorous, meaningful evaluation process as long as it takes into account the true measures of quality teaching; as long as it takes into account the full range of what we need our children to know in order to be fully functioning citizens; as long as it takes into account what is really best for our children.
It has seemed for the past few years that the push toward factory-like standardization was unstoppable. Maybe this will be our beachhead. Maybe this will inspire other educators to take their stand, not just for themselves, but for the future of all of us.
Way to stand up for our children Seattle teachers!
This video makes me laugh and cry. Thanks Jenny!