Comments by Visduh

Standardized tests shunned by South Bay parents

Abcd, I agree with much of the sentiment you have posted here. But a couple of your claims are, I think, off the mark. You claim that ". . . in public schools ineffective teachers are not fired. You can be a terrible teacher who remains a teacher because of union affiliations." Many districts don't crack down of teachers whose performance is unsatisfactory. They have a defeatist attitude about making the case to remove them, although it can be done. But it isn't union affiliation that stops them, it is state law in the education code. Protections against arbitrary dismissal in state law predate the appearance of most of the unions, and go back far before the teachers unions were granted formal collective bargaining rights. Prior to putting those safeguards into the code, teachers were at the total mercy of principals and board members who hired and fired on the basis of attractiveness, family or political connections, religion, and just plain likes or dislikes. Ruffle the feathers of a prominent family in town whose kid is a total jerk, and you could find yourself out of a job. That was not an era to which we would wish to return. Then you claim that "In private school ineffective teachers are always replaced by effective ones." When you use the term "private", I can't be sure that you are not also including what I call parochial schools. Many of those place far more emphasis on religious orthodoxy than on subject knowledge and teaching effectiveness, and I really, really doubt that under-performers in such settings are ALWAYS replaced. The only thing here that is always true is that it is most difficult to determine just how effective a teacher is. Some run their classrooms in unorthodox ways, and are determined to be ineffective for that reason, when in fact they are very good. The sole objective way to measure effectiveness, and it is limited in its use, is the testing you decry. As to having teacher development during the school year, and pulling teachers out of the classroom for various purposes, I agree. That sort of thing should happen shortly before the school year starts, or as it ends, or during the summer break. Too many of the professional societies have their gatherings during the school year, and that means that anyone attending their sessions misses at least two instructional days. The system lectures parents and students about attending class every day, but the value doesn't seem to rub off on the teaching fraternity. "Do as I say, not as I do?"
— April 18, 2014 10:48 a.m.