Sunday, September 05, 2010

Seattle Teachers Stand Up For Children!

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!

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Marissa said...

It's really good to hear that somewhere in this country teachers are standing up for children. Here in Arizona, we have not had many real successes like this one, but yours gives me hope for the future of education in this country.

Michaele Sommerville said...

Yay! So glad to hear there is a real victory for students happening!

Colleen said...

Yay for Seattle! Hopefully, this will spread to all of Washington State and further.

Pumpkin Delight (Kimberly) said...

Good for them! However, if Washington is anything like California and still standardized testing, test scores will remain front and center. So far our test scores are not linked to our salaries, but they are posted and talked about and advertised in the local newspaper. God forbid if you are the teacher to "bring down" the school's or district's test scores. Until those in charge in both state and federal government start asking the teachers and parents what should be done to make our schools even better, I'm afraid we are in for more corporate-like reforms. Ugh! It's so frustrating.
I'm headed over now to see the Charlotte Danielson site. Thanks for sharing.

Floor Pie said...

From Daily Kos (emphasis mine):

"Months after [the superintendent] spent a considerable chunk of district money to bring in a new computerized testing program -- part of what she advocated using to evaluate teachers -- it was disclosed that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson sits on the Board of Directors of the company that produces the test. The company that was awarded a no-bid contract to supply testing services to the Seattle Public Schools."

That pretty much says it all for me.

Let the Children Play said...

Yay Seattle! I feel so depressed when I think of compulsory testing etc that it lifts your heart to hear stuff like this.

Play for Life said...

Tom this is great ... I think we're going backward a bit around here!
Donna :) :)

Jason, as himself said...

Thank God! I just wish they could eliminate the whole darn high stakes testing system. Would you please get on that? If anyone can do it, you can. It's up to you. Ready? GO!