How do you measure the worth of a teacher?

In response to the recent memo sent out by Morcease Beasley regarding the soon to be implemented Race To The Top ‘merit pay’, we wondered, “How do you measure the worth of a teacher?” How will the powers that be determine which teachers will be deemed the “Top 10%” and will therefore receive more pay. Will merit pay encourage or discourage teachers from working in challenging schools? Will teachers of the gifted or AP courses find it easier to earn ‘merit’ pay? Where exactly is this going and who exactly gets to determine who wins the bonuses? Is it fair or right to give out bonuses when most teachers are already underpaid when compared to neighboring counties? Is it fair or right to award bonuses to some when you are in a legal battle over pension contributions?

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From: MORCEASE J. BEASLEY Wednesday, December 04, 2013 5:53:26 AM

Subject: RT3 Merit Pay/No-Cost Extension Update
To: Michael L. Thurmond RAMONA TYSON Kathy S. Howe
ALICE A. THOMPSON TEKSHIA M. WARD-SMITH Michael Bell

Greetings All,

The following is an update for Merit Pay as shared by the DOE during the RT3 Meeting held in Macon, Georgia on 11-18-13:

  • Merit Pay will be allocated to the top 10% of teachers with Teacher Effectiveness Measures (TEMs) and the top 10% of Leaders with Leader Effectiveness Measures (LEMs). The DOE will compile and share the top 10% of TEMs and LEMs with districts once they are calculated.
  • The Merit Pay distribution for teachers with the top 10% of TEMs is $2,500 and the Merit Pay distribution for Principals and APs with the top 10% of LEMs is $2300. Parttime persons who qualify for Merit Pay will be allocated an amount equal to the parttime percentage (e.g. $2500 X 49% or $2300 X 49%).
  • The district’s RT3 allocation for Merit Pay must be used exhaustively for Merit Pay with Merit Pay distributions to occur by August 30, 2015.
  • The district may implement additional Merit Pay criteria if Merit Pay funds are remaining after Merit Pay distribution occurs to the top 10% of TEMs and LEMs. The criteria, rubric, and application process must be developed and documented to be have been widely communicated by Pre-Planning of SY14-15.
  • The district may reallocate existing RT3 funds to increase the Merit Pay allocation but may not decrease the current Merit Pay allocation.
  • TEMs and LEMs will be calculated for distribution of Merit Pay by June 2015 using the 2013-2014 data. Staff continues to work diligently to ensure all teachers have growth measures.
  • Specifics related to the calculation of TEM/LEM and what may happen if a teacher/leader does not have TAPs/LAPs and/or SGP/SLO Growth data have yet to be communicated by the DOE.
  • A No-Cost Extension will be allowed for specific RT3 activities to occur beyond September 24, 2014 with the No-Cost Extension application due by June 30, 2014 and funds to be liquidated by June 30, 2015 if approved.

I will keep you posted as more information is shared or discussed.

Thanks,

Dr. Beasley

Morcease J. Beasley, Ed.D.
Executive Director for Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Learning and the
Office of Federal Programs
Division of Curriculum and Instruction
DeKalb County School District
O) 678-676-0329
F) 678-676-0759
Email) Morcease_J_Beasley@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

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115 Responses to How do you measure the worth of a teacher?

  1. Formerdekalbteacher says:

    Teachers are “graded” on how much their students improve from one test to the next. So in theory, teachers of Gifted/AP are at a disadvantage. These kids are given the same test as students in general ed classes and, in my experience, score 80 or 90% on the PRE-test. So how does a teacher of higher-ability (or more motivated) students demonstrate achievement?

    The Teacher Keys system requires so many observations that principals and APs cannot possibly complete them all. Cursory evaluations to meet the required number are not a valid means of determining a teacher’s effectiveness.

    Done right, the system is ridiculously time-consuming. It takes time away from the mission of a school–to educate our children.

    If anyone would like to wade through it all and try to make sense of the evaluation system, here ’tis: http://www.gadoe.org/School-Improvement/Teacher-and-Leader-Effectiveness/Documents/TKES%20Handbook%20FINAL%207-18-2013.pdf

  2. BOULDER, CO (January 21, 2014) — The recent report Fixing Classroom Observations promises remedies for shortcomings in the classroom observations that are a key part of teacher evaluation. But the report itself comes up short, according to a new review.

    Read more >> http://tinyurl.com/lk657mr

  3. thedeal2 says:

    How does DCSD measure the worth of a teacher? They get them out of the classroom because they know they are screwing the teachers. Ramona and Morcease don’t have 5 years of teaching experience between them, and they’re raking in almost $300K from us per year.

  4. Word Wall says:

    Odd in light of the Social Security equity and step raise issues … the merit pay boils down to a cash bounty based on student SLO scores. Youch! Obviously a check box on the county’s federal DOE grant money and probably a Bill Gates idea, to show dekalb salaries are moving away from years taught and degrees earned model … But this is a pretty minimal merit pay scheme. Some thinks it might bring back teacher morale, but are SLOs really valid? They often penalize incomplete recognition. Many classes dont have SLOs. DO EOCTs count as a SLO ? They dont have pre- tests. I am professionally afraid this trick may incentivize teacher manipulation of the SLO. And maybe teachers will resent the 10% who take the money under such shady rules. Pretty tricky little pay raise, overall.

  5. BeMeforaWeek ThenWeWillTalk says:

    So, let me see if I’m following this. After almost 6 years of frozen wages PLUS weeks of furloughs that equate to PAY CUTS in the thousands of dollars PER teacher, NO CONTRIBUTION AT ALL to our health plan (yup, we’ve been paying 100% for almost 2 years now) AND the county being in arrears to the tune of about $200 million dollars for failure to pay into the “guaranteed” TSA…now we’re expected to get excited over a POSSIBLE and MEASELY “bonus” that doesn’t even cover what’s been lost in furloughs??? I’d say I’m insulted but I’m so numb from being slapped over and over again that I just have to shrug and say, “Of course. What else should I expect?” Anyone who has been in DeKalb for more than 10 minutes knows, by the way, not to pay too much attention to promises of pay increases of any kind. The “powers that be” are highly distractible, unskilled and largely corrupt so most of us just ignore the First Class “flashes” and have long since lost interest in any carrot those over at Mountain Industrial can dangle.

    And thank you, TheDeal2, for pointing out the abysmal lack of actual education experience at the county level. Three years of dipping one’s toe into the classroom and “Vrroooom!” off they go to Shangri La where they have the audacity to tell actual educators how things should be done.

    Thank God this is my last year. That knowledge is the only thing keeping me sane.

  6. Teachers matter says:

    Call me skeptical, but I’ve been a teacher in this county long enough to have lost faith in it. The powers that be haven’t shown that they are trustworthy, so why would they start now? I’ll keep an open mind that this will all be equitable and fair, but I’m not holding out much hope.

  7. howdy1942 says:

    I worked for a company that awarded substantial bonuses to the top 10% of performers with decreasing amounts in the next four 20% brackets and none to those in the bottom 10%. The bottom 5% were place on probation with mandatory improvement programs. The key to success is in the implementation of the program.

    It is crucial to any such program that it have substantial support among those participating in the program, that it set clear expectations and that each expectation is measurable and that any reward for that performance is based solely upon performance with absolutely no political influence whatsoever. Unless this is done, it will create frustration, tension, and will ultimately fail. I hope that Dr. Beasley has involved the teachers in the design of this system and, if not, he needs to stop immediately and go back to square one.

    Our teachers are among the most important resources we have. Good teachers are prepared, they teach, their students learn and, most importantly, they are motivated to graduate and become contributors to our community. @Dekalbite2 said something on this blog that really spoke to me – she cited an example of a single principal who had the courage to clean up the hallways, the bathrooms, the classrooms, and to shield his/her teachers from the interference of the central office. She went on to say how the teachers ultimately rallied behind this principal and the good results that followed. That principal should have been rewarded and rewarded well.

    I’ve always believed that the success of our school system is in placing highly qualified teachers in the classroom, equipping them with the resources they need and request, giving our students and teachers a safe, clean and modern environment and then get out of the way. If teachers and principals need support from the central office, then they will ask for it and they should not be penalized for doing so. If they have a problem with a laptop, then they should be able to call technical support directly and technical support should be measured by its response time and the quality of their support – all measurable.

    Teachers ought to be the first involved. They ought to be the first to be asked what their budget needs are and the school budget ought to be build from the classroom up. That would result in better budgets, produce few surprises, and promote stability in our finances.

    In direct answer to the question posed on this blog, I cannot begin to put a measure on the many good teachers that I had – and after over 70 years, I remember the names of each one. And I would be much, much poorer had they not come my way.

  8. howdy1942 says:

    Oh, and by the way, I just read that the South Carolina Legislature has introduced legislation to raise its school teacher up to the national average. That legislation has bipartisan support as well as the support of the Governor. In the meantime, our teachers are still being required to take five furlough days per year, have had no raised in at least five years, and have had the school board to abruptly terminate its contributions into the teachers’ supplemental plan. Now I ask: “Is Dekalb County and Georgia poorer than South Carolina?”

    By the way, I am not a teacher and am not affiliated with the school system in in way nor is any member of my family.

  9. Retired teacher123 says:

    Teacher are rated on a rubric which is part of RTT. Benchmark scores are only one part of the rubric. In order to get RTT, an evaluation tool was part of the criteria . The criteria was developed, funded, and implemented by the federal government. States applied and only some were accepted. Georgia was accepted and gradually RTT is being implemented.

  10. teachermom says:

    Sorry for the cross-post I put his on the wrong post originally, I am going to follow this up with a very timely article that was shared by a teacher on my facebook after I posted…

    I agree that teachers be accountable for student achievement. Students are not “widgets” however. Teaching human beings is not the same as producing a quality product, there are too many variables outside of our control. I know that the rubric will probably involve comparing growth within the same student but it is still going to rely heavily on one standardized test. This has historically created problems (APS anyone?) and there is lots of research against so called high stakes testing.

    For teachers of high risk and challenged students, ie those living in poverty and/or with special needs, or even those who are English language learners, the fear is greater. You could make the comparison of the doctor who is treating a patient with a chronic illness being punished because he did not recover or improve a certain amount in a certain length of time. That patient may have the potential to recover but they may have no money for medicine, they may not follow the treatment plan, or they may worsen due to their illness. Any number of variables can and will come in to play, regardless of how the rubric is designed. And those who are the most needed, teaching the most challenging students, may feel they will never get the merit pay.

    This is a slap in the face to teachers in Dekalb. Why are we talking about merit pay before we talk about how to give back the pay and benefits that were taken from us through no lack of merit on our part? It feels punitive to me.

  11. teachermom says:

    Why I Want To Give Up Teaching

    By ELIZABETH A. NATALE | OP-ED The Hartford Courant

    7:55 p.m. EST, January 17, 2014

    Surrounded by piles of student work to grade, lessons to plan and laundry to do, I have but one hope for the new year: that the Common Core State Standards, their related Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium testing and the new teacher evaluation program will become extinct.

    I have been a middle school English teacher for 15 years. I entered teaching after 19 years as a newspaper reporter and college public relations professional. I changed careers to contribute to society; shape young minds; create good and productive citizens; and spend time with youngsters lacking adults at home with time, energy and resources to teach them.

    Although the tasks ahead of me are no different from those of the last 14 years, today is different. Today, I am considering ending my teaching career.

    When I started teaching, I learned that dealing with demanding college presidents and cantankerous newspaper editors was nothing. While those jobs allowed me time to drink tea and read the newspaper, teaching deprived me of an opportunity to use the restroom. And when I did, I was often the Pied Piper, followed by children intent on speaking with me through the bathroom door.

    I loved it!

    Unfortunately, government attempts to improve education are stripping the joy out of teaching and doing nothing to help children. The Common Core standards require teachers to march lockstep in arming students with “21st-century skills.” In English, emphasis on technology and nonfiction reading makes it more important for students to prepare an electronic presentation on how to make a paper airplane than to learn about moral dilemmas from Natalie Babbitt’s beloved novel “Tuck Everlasting.”

    The Smarter Balance program assumes my students are comfortable taking tests on a computer, even if they do not own one. My value as a teacher is now reduced to how successful I am in getting a student who has eaten no breakfast and is a pawn in her parents’ divorce to score well enough to meet my teacher evaluation goals.

    I am a professional. My mission is to help students progress academically, but there is much more to my job than ensuring students can answer multiple-choice questions on a computer. Unlike my engineer husband who runs tests to rate the functionality of instruments, I cannot assess students by plugging them into a computer. They are not machines. They are humans who are not fazed by a D but are undone when their goldfish dies, who struggle with composing a coherent paragraph but draw brilliantly, who read on a third-grade level but generously hold the door for others.

    My most important contributions to students are not addressed by the Common Core, Smarter Balance and teacher evaluations. I come in early, work through lunch and stay late to help children who ask for assistance but clearly crave the attention of a caring adult. At intramurals, I voluntarily coach a ragtag team of volleyball players to ensure good sportsmanship. I “ooh” and “ah” over comments made by a student who finally raises his hand or earns a C on a test she insisted she would fail.

    Those moments mean the most to my students and me, but they are not valued by a system that focuses on preparing workers rather than thinkers, collecting data rather than teaching and treating teachers as less than professionals.

    Until this year, I was a highly regarded certified teacher. Now, I must prove myself with data that holds little meaning to me. I no longer have the luxury of teaching literature, with all of its life lessons, or teaching writing to students who long to be creative. My success is measured by my ability to bring 85 percent of struggling students to “mastery,” without regard for those with advanced skills. Instead of fostering love of reading and writing, I am killing children’s passions committing “readicide,” as Kelly Gallagher called it in his book of that title.

    Teaching is the most difficult but most rewarding work I have ever done. It is, however, art, not science. A student’s learning will never be measured by any test, and I do not believe the current trend in education will lead to adults better prepared for the workforce, or to better citizens. For the sake of students, our legislators must reach this same conclusion before good teachers give up the profession and the children they love.

    Elizabeth A. Natale of Glastonbury teaches English and language arts at Sedgwick Middle School in West Hartford.

    Copyright © 2014, The Hartford Cour

  12. dsw2contributor says:

    Teachermom posted an article from a middle school teacher who complained “In English, emphasis on technology and nonfiction reading makes it more important for students to prepare an electronic presentation on how to make a paper airplane than to learn about moral dilemmas from Natalie Babbitt’s beloved novel “Tuck Everlasting.”

    I think the average middle-school boy is going to learn a lot more by doing the presentation about constructing a paper airplane than by reading yet another fantasy book.

    Disengaged boys in middle & high school is a real problem, and is something that many female educators are oblivious about.

  13. Disengaged boys is a huge problem dsw2contributor. In fact, a while ago, when we posted “The Numbers Tell The Story“, which focused on demographics and enrollment, one of the shocking things we found was the gender discrepancies in the ‘choice’ programs. By and large they are heavily populated with girls.

    In other areas, we noticed that many of our schools are not serving boys as well as girls. For example, our high achiever and magnet programs enroll more girls than boys. You have to get this data directly from the original spreadsheet from the state (linked below), but of the 1,276 students enrolled at Arabia Mountain High School – Academy of Engineering, Medicine and Environment, 758 (almost 60%) are girls. And SW DeKalb (magnet program) has 717 girls with only 664 boys. Kittredge is well-balanced by gender (211 girls and 204 boys) but Wadsworth has 122 girls and only 110 boys. DSA is even more out of sync: 261 females to only 66 males. The same is true for the Elementary School of the Arts (98% black): 377 females to 139 males. In addition, DeKalb PATH Academy Charter School, a school a refugee, immigrant and local children from the Chamblee, Doraville and Clarkston shows 200 of their 370 students are female. DeKalb Early College (88% Black) has 164 girls and only 95 boys. Other charters and theme schools show the same trend – many more girls are enrolled in these boutique, specialty schools than boys.

    So where are all the boys? First, they are in our traditional, neighborhood schools, most of which show more boys on the rolls than girls. In addition, they are in the alternative programs. Beginning with DeKalb Alternative School: 59 girls, 204 boys. Elizabeth Andrews has 275 girls and 363 boys. East DeKalb Special Education Center has 113 girls and 265 boys. Even Margaret Harris Comprehensive School shows only 27 girls to 39 boys and UHS of Laurel Heights has 11 girls and 26 boys. Coralwood has 139 boys and 105 girls.

    In fact, if we could somehow access it, the data would probably show a much larger percentage of boys not graduating.

  14. hopespringseternal says:

    Disengaged boys, middle/high school. Yes. I’m “going there” — anecdotally, but I’ve seen it over and over in this school district alone. Happens everywhere.

    If I suppose that there are more than a few teachers in a high school building with 0-3 years teaching experience, and that most of them are female, it’s little wonder that a 6ft. boy, in most cases a minority, and in all cases a boy who has pushed the envelope with a smart-ass tone or behaving surly that day will see a harsher reaction from said teacher. Sorry folks, this is very real. The honest, self-reflective veteran teachers on this blog may be able to speak on his without taking it personally. I’ve had two brothers, three sons and three nephews come through this district at various times, plus countless stories of others, and I see the pattern. The boys aren’t in full force not just because of personal family dynamics, but because in some cases they’re just not welcome with the same set of open arms. This is but one of many reasons why discipline disparity isn’t tackled. Too many upset applecarts.

    Honesty, remember? Does anyone know teachers who subconsciously deal with boys differently than girls?

  15. Inthetrenches says:

    Wow. Where to even begin. Speaking for myself – with 24 years experience in NY, NJ and GA middle and high schools, I can tell you that boys are afforded the same respect girls are…always. The element that changes the dynamic is the CHILD’S behavior. Where is it written that “surly” boys should be handled with kid gloves? And what difference does race make? These are the complaints we hear from parents who spend their days making excuses for their kid’s behavior and blame teacher’s for imaginary disparity.

  16. @inthetrenches: We don’t proclaim to know ‘why’ boys seem under-represented in magnet-type schools and over-represented in discipline-type schools – but the facts are the facts. Why do they apply in fewer numbers to magnet programs than girls? Perhaps teenaged boys learn differently? Perhaps they like to learn in a more hands-on physical way? Teach these boys how to work on cars while using math and you’ll see engaged boys. Teach them as they build something with hand tools and you will see engaged boys. There are lots of ways to teach math. And there should also be plenty of time for physical breaks – PE type stuff – touch football – baseball – skateboarding whatever. Boys are physical. We are losing a lot of potentially productive citizens when we allow them to leave school with very few job skills.

    Read more on the science of it >> http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/nov04/vol62/num03/With-Boys-and-Girls-in-Mind.aspx

    Our boys are now losing frightening ground in school, and we must come to terms with it—not in a way that robs girls, but in a way that sustains our civilization and is as powerful as the lobby we have created to help girls. The following statistics for the United States illustrate these concerns:

    Boys earn 70 percent of Ds and Fs and fewer than half of the As.
    Boys account for two-thirds of learning disability diagnoses.
    Boys represent 90 percent of discipline referrals.
    Boys dominate such brain-related learning disorders as ADD/ADHD, with millions now medicated in schools.
    80 percent of high school dropouts are male.
    Males make up fewer than 40 percent of college students (Gurian, 2001).
    

    These statistics hold true around the world. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently released its three-year study of knowledge and skills of males and females in 35 industrialized countries (including the United States, Canada, the European countries, Australia, and Japan). Girls outperformed boys in every country. The statistics that brought the male scores down most significantly were their reading/writing scores.

    We have nearly closed the math/science gender gap in education for girls by using more verbal functioning—reading and written analysis—to teach such spatial-mechanical subjects as math, science, and computer science (Rubin, 2004; Sommers, 2000). We now need a new movement to alter classrooms to better suit boys’ learning patterns if we are to deal with the gaps in grades, discipline, and reading/writing that threaten to close many boys out of college and out of success in life.

    Read more >> http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/nov04/vol62/num03/With-Boys-and-Girls-in-Mind.aspx

  17. hopespringseternal says:

    Oh good heavens. Nobody’s blaming anybody or making excuses, ok? I’m always assured of what the gauge says about when we will all be ready to have open honest conversation — all of us. The gauge never moves. We’ll be ready in — never.

  18. So, you are saying that the Board stopped Ramona from ordering the full forensic and salary audit? Interesting, as Dr. Lewis also testified that the Board refused to allow him to fire Pat Pope. Any more details on exactly who on the Board was so controlling of these superintendents?

  19. To: Bemeforaday. I have been you and now I am blissfully retired, thank God! I agree with your comments 100%!
    As for the issue of merit pay: It is all nonsense, and it sickens me that clueless people collect huge salaries to try to find a way to make this look like a good idea.
    In order to choose a true winner, everyone must be playing the same game and it must be played fairly. How can an ESOL teacher with 15 kids be measured against a regular ed teacher with 24 kids, against a regular ed teacher with 20 kids, 5 of whom are major discipline problems, against a regular ed teacher whose class has several non-English speakers and numerous children who cannot read anywhere near grade level, against a special ed teacher, against a music teacher, against a teacher with a para, against any other combination of factors that make every classroom situation unique? Oh, and don’t forget, some teachers even have kids with parents who come in to help and teach their kids at home. How will that extra help factor in?
    All this will cause a negative feeling among teachers in a school, and for what, for a mere $2500 payment to someone who may not even be the truly most deserving person? Maybe, just maybe, the merit pay could be voted on by the teachers themselves. But frankly, based on watching the selections for Teacher of the Year, even that would not necessarily help get the reward to the most deserving person. I am sure, however, that using some statistics and observations will not lead to a fair outcome ever. I am also sure that I will never encourage any young person to enter this profession. It seems the only reward teachers get today is a slap in the face.

  20. I have serious misgivings about how these merit bonuses would be determined as well. Just going back to the $10,000 bonuses handed out for ‘highly effective principals’ — one went to the principal of Lakeside – who was only there a couple of years (or maybe even one year) – but no bonus was ever given to the Lakeside principal before or the one after. Just the one who happened to have been hand-picked by Dr. Lewis for the job. That whole “High-performing” principal bonus thing was a joke. A nice cash payout for a lucky few — who really didn’t seem all that different from anyone else.

  21. howdy1942 says:

    I heard Thurmond speak again last night and he stated that his number one priority was improving the lot of teachers. Time will tell – I’ve learned to take what he says with a grain of salt after hearing him promise a listing of those 600 central office positions that he stated last February had been eliminated. My sense is that they would have been eliminated under Dr. Atkinson since he had been in office at that time for less than one month. I am also skeptical of that “find” of $21 million. How did that happen? Accounting error? Funny money? Good management practices?

    I was once told by a very good boss that I should plan on having no more than five measurable objectives to accomplish during any given year and one of those should be personal development. In addition to improving the lot of our teachers, I would place a very high priority to improving relations between the residents of Dekalb County and the Dekalb County School Board and administration. My take is that there is widespread distrust and skepticism among the residents toward the school board. A third priority would be initiating and completing a full financial audit, perhaps even a forensic audit, of the Dekalb County School System. That should be a starting point for any decisions made by the board. Fourth, we need to get that teacher lawsuit behind us and I would strongly encourage that a settlement be reached. Again, I also sense that there is a schism between the teachers and the administration. That needs to be addressed.

    As I discussed above, the South Carolina Legislature has introduced legislation to raise teachers on average approximately $9,000 per year in order to bring them up to the national average. That legislation has strong bipartisan support in both houses of the Legislature and with the Governor. I find it very difficult to believe that in Dekalb County, one of the wealthiest in the State, that we cannot find the money to do that. Last night, Thurmond said that he merely wants to reduce the number of furlough days. My response is simple – find the money! Get it done!

    Again and to the best of my knowledge, I am not a school teacher and am not, in any way, remotely related to any employee in the Dekalb County School System.

  22. howdy1942 says:

    And one more thing, let’s not get carried away with our new accreditation status. We were raised one level and that is a step in the right direction. But that step was not unexpected since we now have a different school board and a different superintendent. The school board was the target of six of the eleven findings SACS made. And this school board has learned to be nice to each other. I look forward to the upcoming election – that will be very telling as to whether we are happen with the status quo or whether we really want some changes.

  23. Teachers matter says:

    A disturbing problem I see with our boys (and many girls also) is that because they are not being taught about and discussing moral dilemmas, they are showing less and less empathy and compassion toward others.

  24. That’s so true, Teachers matter. In fact, last night on the news the big report was that sexual assaults on college campuses are rampant. Our young people are only getting media messages – they need strong values and morals taught at home and at school as well as at church, if you worship. We were always taught values in school – many personal values, empathy for others and the world outside ourselves.

  25. @Howdy: Excellent points! You might consider writing that in a letter to Mr. Thurmond directly.

  26. concerned citizen says:

    Howdy, please send the letter as DSW suggested! It’s wonderfully thought out! If only you were the supt what a paradise it would be for the teachers and children.

  27. howdy1942 says:

    I’ll do that and I may also copy Senator Steve Henson. I appreciate your support and suggestion. @concerned citizen – I’d be happy to be superintendent and I would come a lot cheaper than Mr. Thurmond – at least 2/3 less! Heck, I might even just do it for one dollar and they could even withhold any contribution to my supplemental retirement fund!

  28. concerned citizen says:

    With a highly qualified person as supt. such as Howdy1942 and Stan Jester, we could regain some dignity but instead we are stuck with this half-wit Thurmond. And the situation is not getting any better with the leadership snorting and stomping, chomping on their box lunches, and belching at the trough of despair and humiliation. Gorging and giggling about their “success.” Thurmond is sickening, preening and strutting like the vain peacock he is.

  29. dsw2contributor says:

    Howdy, your letter is the most succinct and to-the-point summary I’ve seen so far. Please send it to the AJC!

  30. Blindsided says:

    SURPRISE! The “Friends and Family” reward system CONTINUES!

  31. DecaturMax says:

    A family member was a teacher in Dekalb 1998-2007. First the administration told her normal FMLA leave was 4 weeks for having a baby, no more than that. Full FMLS was taken. A previously good relationship with the principal was over after that. That principal retired. The next principal took a state mandated pre-k para as her personal assistant(no classroom duties) out of my family members class. I don’t think a principal needs a counselor, school secretary, asst. principal and personal assistant to run a school with 350 kids. Upon inquiring why this was the only class without a para, the retaliation began. Previously perfect evaluations were getting dings.

    Through the school counselor, it was agreed my family member would not make waves about teh para and leave at the end of the year in return for the retaliation to stop. That family member has been at another highly ranked district/ school for years now and has received numerous accolades including being picked to model teaching for video training courses by a top university. The principal was fired and probably should have been prosecuted. We all know it is hard for an insider to get fired in Dekalb.

    So how do you expect a culture like this to fairly dole out $2500 checks? This sounds like leverage to “get in line”.

    On a side note, Dekalb can’t seem to figure out that lesson planning for the common core is successful in other district because the teachers are allowed lots of collaborative planning time during regular hours. It is killing the teachers trying to plan on their own after school.

  32. Stan Jester says:

    “I heard Thurmond speak again last night and he stated that his number one priority was improving the lot of teachers.”

    I refer you to DSW who said, ” a February 8 report in the AJC quoted Thurmond as saying that finding a permanent superintendent would be Job #1: ‘Thurmond said the search for a permanent superintendent would begin immediately and he would leave as soon as one is found.’ “

  33. IntheTrenches says:

    In response to DecaturMax, yes, this is a bit of a puzzle, isn’t it? It’s quite normal for this type of work place bullying to go on throughout the county. It’s not at all rare. I’ve witnessed it myself. The current administration at my school in Dunwoody isn’t at all concerned, though it’s been reported repeatedly. This type of behavior happened to a colleague of mine a few years ago and because the harasser volunteered to help out administrators so frequently (an effective strategy, indeed) she was insulated from any/all repercussions. But yeah…let’s put MORE power into these people’s hands, shall we?

  34. IntheTrenches says:

    In response to howdy1942’s post on January 23, 2014 at 6:11 PM, what many non-educators fail to comprehend-especially those who have been in business all their lives- is that teachers are held responsible for outcomes when the majority of variables involved are not within their control.

    For example, imagine you’re in sales and you’ve been given a sales goal that can only be achieved by the successful landing of a particular sale, by a particular due date, to a client we’ll call Mr. Smith.

    Prior to your meeting, you email Mr. Smith with your proposal and follow up the email with a much meeting. Once seated you begin reviewing the proposal but soon realize that Mr. Smith didn’t read your email. Why? Because he doesn’t know how to use email. In fact, he doesn’t even read well and so most of what you included in your proposal is incomprehensible to him.

    So, your lunch meeting is spent going over your proposal in detail. Unbeknownst to you, Mr. Smith is going through a divorce and has recently been sleeping on a friend’s couch for the past month so he’s more than a little grumpy. he also didn’t eat breakfast that morning so he’s more focused on his lunch that you’re buying him than he is your proposal.

    At the end of the meeting Mr. Smith leaves feeling less hungry, slightly more knowledgeable than he arrived but not ready to “seal the deal.” Not by a long shot. The result? Your boss calls you on the carpet for YOUR incompetence and their goes your review, bonus and possibly your job.

    This is what teachers face everyday-especially those in the upper grades that must rely on students arriving with the needed prequisite skills in order to master required skills and concepts.

    This is just ONE of the key problems teachers face when being evaluated for effectiveness…and it’s possibly one of the most frustrating as well-since everyone outside the classroom seems to have an opinion these days on the job we educators are doing.
    But you know what they say about opinions…they’re just like a certain body part and yes, everyone does have one.

  35. My concerns exactly, DecaturMax. This whole merit pay system is set up to instill competition and mistrust among teachers rather than collaboration. There is already enough mistrust to go around several times. This merit pay idea (to me) looks like a disaster for morale. We would much rather see full support, full pay, full pension and full collaboration for ALL teachers.

  36. Word Wall says:

    The Merit Pay Plan: Take 250 dollars from Ten Teachers (one furlough day)…. Then distribute the $2500 dollars from the Ten Teachers to a “merit” Teacher, based on mysterious murky metrics and standardized test scores, …. “DOE”!

  37. dsw2contributor says:

    IntheTrenches said “what many non-educators fail to comprehend-especially those who have been in business all their lives- is that teachers are held responsible for outcomes when the majority of variables involved are not within their control.”

    Many educators fail to comprehend that middle class children will learn no matter what happens in their classrooms. Think of the children whose parents are reading to them at home, helping them with their homework, etc. — those children are going to learn no matter how poor of a job their teachers actually do.

    Teachers who understand this are very special people. These teachers do not complain about “variables” outside their control. Instead, these teachers are drawn to the challenges they find in schools where most of the children live in poverty and/or are from ESOL households. Teachers who choose to teach in those schools know that they are the only chance those children have.

  38. IntheTrenches says:

    dsw2contributor said…
    “Many educators fail to comprehend that middle class children will learn no matter what happens in their classrooms. Think of the children whose parents are reading to them at home, helping them with their homework, etc. — those children are going to learn no matter how poor of a job their teachers actually do. Teachers who understand this are very special people. These teachers do not complain about “variables” outside their control.”

    How is this relevant to my remark? My statement was is response to the criticism made frequently by business professionals who lack the experience to understand that teacher evals and merit pay cannot be approached in the manner that those outside the classroom are evaluated and compensated because the variables within a business setting are far more controlled than in the classroom. I know; I’ve been there as well.

    Second, my remarks are based on almost 25 years of experience in grades 5-11 in 3 different states…including remedial, regular ed and gifted…not simply “middle class children.”

    A a society at large as well as within the Dunwoody community an attitude has been adopted by many that suggests that no matter what the challenges-the teacher (a good teacher, anyway) will miraculously rise to the occasion and (if he/she really cares) will wave his/her magic wand (which I suppose is supposed to come in the mail along with your teaching certificate…although my hasn’t arrived yet) and lift each and every Level 1 student to Level 2 while simultaneously challenging and raising the Level 2s to level 3 all by the end of April. What nonsense!

    Additionally, the not infrequent habit of making teachers responsibility for a child’s lack of organization, a task that falls firmly within the confines of the parent’s responsibility, adds to the task in a way that is neither necessary nor unavoidable. Many of the middle class parents you refer to have relegated many parental responsibilities to teachers to the point that it’s no longer seen as unusual. One parent remarked one day that-after informing my team that we needed to be sure to check her 13 year old’s book bag at the end of each day to be sure he didn’t forget anything- that she simply “Didn’t have the band width for it.” No, he had no special needs…other than the need for his parent to step up and do her job. Sadly, this is not at all unusual…not at all. I remember one of my colleagues remarking after the meeting, “Strange, I don’t remember giving birth to her child. Is there anything else we can do? Make breakfast, perhaps?” It’s amazing that so many parents lack the desire, energy and motivation to meet the responsibilities of parenting fully…despite their financial status. Some of the laziest parents are some of the most affluent.

    I find it interesting that you chose the word “complain.” Teachers who continue to push onward in spite of these issues are special. I consider myself among them, so thank you. That does not mean that these issues should not be brought up and addressed, however. Unless of course you choose to be part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

  39. IntheTrenches says:

    dsw2contributor said…
    “Many educators fail to comprehend that middle class children will learn no matter what happens in their classrooms. Think of the children whose parents are reading to them at home, helping them with their homework, etc. — those children are going to learn no matter how poor of a job their teachers actually do. Teachers who understand this are very special people. These teachers do not complain about “variables” outside their control.”

    How is this relevant to my remark? My statement was is response to the criticism made frequently by business professionals who lack the experience to understand that teacher evals and merit pay cannot be approached in the manner that those outside the classroom are evaluated and compensated. This is because the variables within a business setting are far more controlled than in the classroom. I know; I’ve been there as well.

    Second, my remarks are based on almost 25 years of experience in grades 5-11 in 3 different states…including remedial, regular ed and gifted…not simply “middle class children.”

    In our society at large, as well as within the Dunwoody community, an attitude has been adopted by many that suggests that no matter what the challenges-the teacher (a good teacher, anyway) will miraculously rise to the occasion and (if he/she really cares) will wave his/her magic wand (which I suppose is supposed to come in the mail along with your teaching certificate…although my hasn’t arrived yet) and lift each and every Level 1 student to Level 2 while simultaneously challenging and raising the Level 2s to level 3 all by the end of April. What nonsense!

    Additionally, the not infrequent habit of making teachers responsibility for a child’s lack of organization, a task that falls firmly within the confines of the parent’s responsibility, adds to the task in a way that is neither necessary nor unavoidable. Many of the middle class parents you refer to have relegated many parental responsibilities to teachers to the point that it’s no longer seen as unusual. One parent remarked one day that-after informing my team that we needed to be sure to check her 13 year old’s book bag at the end of each day to be sure he didn’t forget anything- that she simply “Didn’t have the band width for it.” No, he had no special needs…other than the need for his parent to step up and do her job. Sadly, this is not at all unusual…not at all. I remember one of my colleagues remarking after the meeting, “Strange, I don’t remember giving birth to her child. Is there anything else we can do? Make breakfast, perhaps?” It’s amazing that so many parents lack the desire, energy and motivation to meet the responsibilities of parenting fully…despite their financial status. Some of the laziest parents are some of the most affluent.

    I find it interesting that you chose the word “complain.” Teachers who continue to push onward in spite of these issues are special. I consider myself among them, so thank you. That does not mean that these issues should not be brought up and addressed, however. Unless of course you choose to be part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

    What might that solution look like? It would require the actual requirement (rather than stating it on paper and then ignoring the requirement in reality) of students to qualify for classes other than general level. Meaning- a student who doesn’t have the grades or standardized test scores for High Achiever’s isn’t placed there. Period. A students fails 2 or more core classes? The student is retained in the grade to repeat it a second time. Period. No meetings. No excuses. And absolutely, under no circumstances, is the teacher threatened and arm twisted into passing the student which is also the norm. Additionally, parents with internet access should be responsible for knowing that their child isn’t doing his/her work. No need for countless deficiencies and phone calls. More nonsense! Can a teacher compensate for a student’s or parent’s laziness? Of course! We do it all the time. But should we? No. It’s enabling behavior that does nothing but reward and produce incompetence. It’s actually educational malpractice to do so in my opinion.

    But what do I know? I’m only a teacher.

  40. concerned citizen says:

    dsw2contributor – I always anticipate and like your insightful comments, but I just don’t get what you said here. It sounds like a put-down for teachers, to me. Maybe I misunderstood. Can you clarify? Please remember that our teachers are not being paid properly and provided with the essentials for teaching – books, paper, etc. It sounds like you’re saying the “good” teachers are quiet. ????? and non-complaining.I am a teacher who works with students living in stark poverty and are ESOL. If I con’t speak up (and I do), I wouldn’t have any support and/or basics to teach with. Even so, I pay for almost everything. Please tell me what you are saying.I thought we were talking about the value of teachers. I don’t know and never have known any teacher who didn’t understand that each child’s future rested on her/him. This has nothing to do with the ESOL and poverty levels of the different schools.

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