Wilbanks: Reform debate ignores teacher quality

By coincidence, Gwinnett County Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks co-authored an op-ed in today’s AJC on teacher training, providing a good followup to our discussion this morning on why Teach for America teachers outperform other teachers in reviews based on how well student performance on tests.

I agree with him that teacher quality is the missing piece of the reform discussions in Georgia, largely because legislators don’t know how to fix that and find it easier to vote for more charter schools and tax breaks for private schools.

As I have said, I will take 35 kids in a broom closet with a great teacher over  21 in a luxury suite with an ineffective teacher. And at the rate Georgia is slashing its public school funding, we are going to have 35 kids learning in broom closets soon.

Here is what Wilbanks and co-author Stephanie Hirsh have to say:

By J. Alvin Wilbanks and Stephanie Hirsh

The debate on how to best improve student achievement continues in communities and school systems, among state and national lawmakers and in the media. Is class size the answer? How does technology figure in? What about charter schools?

However, in these discussions, a critical piece often is missing or glossed over during the conversation — teacher quality and how we should go about improving the quality of teaching in every single classroom.

Research supports that a key factor in a student’s academic success is the classroom teacher. That is why a growing number of school districts, including Gwinnett County Public Schools and others in the metro area, are implementing effective solutions to improve teacher quality.

The focus must be on helping struggling teachers become better teachers and helping good teachers become great educators.

I am proud of the investment our school district has made in professional development. Our commitment to improving the quality of teachers is making a difference and was noted by The Broad Foundation when it selected our district as the 2010 winner of The Broad Prize for Urban Education, the nation’s largest and most prestigious education award.

The value of professional development is far-reaching and is not confined to just one teacher or one classroom.

It occurs throughout the school, every day, and even touches other schools. It takes place during meetings where successful teachers share best practices.

You find it as teachers work in collaborative teams across grade levels. We see it in classrooms when teachers are supported by coaches and participate in other forms of just-in-time learning. And it occurs in conversations with supervisors in which teachers receive valuable feedback on how they can improve their instruction.

Professional development also occurs when educators have access to the latest research and best practices of other school systems.

This week, close to 3,000 educators from around the world were in Atlanta as part of the Learning Forward (formerly the National Staff Development Council) Annual Conference.

However, it is not enough to set aside a day or two each year — or even each month — for professional learning. That only gets things started. The true difference and the most powerful improvements occur when professional development is embedded into the daily work of every educator. That must be our goal.

While motivated and committed school and district leaders are taking key steps every day to advance this vision, others play a key role as well. State policymakers share the responsibility of ensuring a quality and effective education for every child.

Rather than reducing support for professional development, we should work together to encourage policies that reward school systems and educators who use professional learning to advance the quality of instruction and who demonstrate the impact of professional learning in terms of improved student achievement.

As discussions continue on how to improve Georgia’s schools and how to help students reach their potential, we cannot underestimate the power of caring, dedicated and highly effective teachers.

An investment in their professional development is a strategy that will help ensure all students experience great teaching every day.

J. Alvin Wilbanks is CEO and superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools.

Stephanie Hirsh is executive director of Learning Forward.

– By Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

47 comments Add your comment

Michael

December 10th, 2010
9:49 am

Often what passes for professional development is the “Here’s what we think you need…” coming from the district offices and not what teachers know they need. I see this time and again. Professional development to learn to use READ 180 or FastForward…programs not proven through research (actually the US dept of Ed says the research shows no gains) and both designed to remove the teacher from learning process. How about professional development that puts the teacher in the center of the teaching/learning process.

Maureen Downey

December 10th, 2010
9:55 am

To Michael’s point, I had a colleague who left journalism for teaching. She had graduated an Ivy League where she won her college’s top three academic awards for English majors. She had a master’s from another Ivy League school. She said the education courses she had to take for certification to teach high school English in Georgia were some of the shallowest she had ever seen. (No, she did not go to UGA as she lives in rural Georgia.) And she says the professional development courses are often a waste of time and unrelated to her needs.
Maureen

just watching

December 10th, 2010
10:08 am

Maureen….take a look at the more recent research by Dr. Robert Pianta on teacher development and the My Teaching Partner system…..
http://www.myteachingpartner.net/index.php

GNGS

December 10th, 2010
10:39 am

The best way to enhance quality of teacher is to recruit the best to teach. How do your do that? Very simple, pay them better. I realize that the reality is that a lot of people do not respect teacher and teaching as a profession, even they profess their support for education. One way to do this is to raise the bar to be a teacher. We can start with doing away with B.S. in education. To teach science or math, you are required to get a BS in science or math, and then you will be required to have a MS in education, which includes one year training in education-related subjects, and one year of practice teaching. Afterwards, a teacher will get a starting salary around $70,000, or a comparable starting salary to other professionals, whichever is higher.

catlady

December 10th, 2010
10:47 am

Honey, don’t hold your breath. No one in Georgia thinks their kid’s education is worth anything like that money!

William Casey

December 10th, 2010
10:54 am

My two cents: Education leaders need to understand that excellent teaching is as much an art as a science. I’m not putting down professional development, but administrators need to recognize a passion for the learning process in young teachers and then simply work to remove the day-to-day obstacles that impede creative, effective teaching. One such obstacle is the belief that excellent teaching can be “standardized” and “rationalized” on the industrial model. Great teaching is largely a function of quirky, individual personality. So is great learning . Matching the right teacher with the right learner is all too often neglected.

Teacher, Too

December 10th, 2010
10:55 am

I’d like to see teachers have some input as to how monies are spent. Technology is fine for those teachers who want/use the technology, but as a language arts teacher, I don’t need I-Respond or some of the other technology that is being foisted on me. I teach writing, and forcing me to give multiple choice assignments/quizzes/tests will not improve my students’ writing skills. It will not allow students to analyze literature through written expression.

I see much waste in how money is spent, money that could be utilized more productively.

Oh, and you should see what passes for professional development at some schools. More money squandered.

William Casey

December 10th, 2010
10:55 am

@GNGS: Amen!

Dr NO

December 10th, 2010
10:58 am

“The best way to enhance quality of teacher is to recruit the best to teach.”

Uh no. The best way to enhance quality of teacher is to begin the terminations. The majority of people only respond to stimuli when personally threatened ie their job/income. I guarantee you begin rolling some heads out the door and the remaining teachers/enablers will stop the whining, complaining, excuse making and in short order get their “house” in order.

LET THE FIRINGS BEGIN!!

mark

December 10th, 2010
11:09 am

Two years ago I needed to hire a science teacher, who could teach, biology, chemistry, physical science and environmental science. I had 3 applicants. Why teach science for $50K/year, when you can work at one of then many science based industries in Atlanta for a whole lot more. Plus, who knows what your pay cut will be next year? I have lost $12000 over the past 3 years due to cuts. A few years ago, Georgia Colleges and universities graduated less than 10 physics education majors (i think the number was 3). No wonder some metro counties search the global to find Physics majors to teach high school physics. If you have a physics major, a world of opportunites exsist, teaching is not high on the list.

TopPublicSchool

December 10th, 2010
11:11 am

Great Teachers …have honest ethical administrators.
A tool to correct problems with a teacher’s performance ( Professional Development Plans ) can not continue to be used by APS to intimidate and harass teachers that step up to the corruption within the system. The entire process of evaluating teachers and their administrators needs to be seriously scrutinized. A proper investigation of APS will make sure the mistakes and illegal activities of Atlanta’s Public School system will never happen again. APS Administrators have damage our entire city.

I did contact the Governor’s office…
Of course there is so much politics involved in this.
The GBI will not investigate possible misuse of funds by APS until a police report has been filed to them from the Atlanta Police Department

I called the Atlanta Police Department to report my concern.

They said…they do not handle anything to do with Atlanta Public Schools.
All of the issues involving APS are to be reported to the Atlanta Public Schools, Detective Unit.

I think this is TOTAL CORRUPTION.

Reporting possible wrong-doing to anyone holding hands with APS would not produce a fair investigation.

So, What to do now?
Any suggestions?

I hope someone within Governor Perdue’s office will investigate the information detailed on the Youtube Channel:

http://www.youtube.com/user/TopSchoolAtlanta#p/u
Concealing Segregation in Atlanta Public Schools

http://www.youtube.com/user/TopSchoolAtlanta#p/u/7/0tCFMSuQBTQ
Blatant Discrimination/Jackson/APS Leadership

The disgraceful leadership within Atlanta Public Schools under the umbrella of Dr. Beverly Hall has soiled our reputations as citizens of Atlanta, Georgia.

I am asking the governor to open a full investigation to unravel ALL PROBLEMS with the possible misuse of public funds and the possible segregation of our children in the Northside schools of APS.

http://www.TopPublicSchoolCorruptionAtlanta.com

say what?

December 10th, 2010
11:13 am

@GNGS on the right track doing away with the BS and BA in Education for middle grades and beyond. As elementary students remain with the same teacher all day, the teacher needs to have trainaing in all subjects. Bright idea to make teacher ed a 5 year program with the 5th year being pedagogy and teacher learning courses.

In other news, if school systems increased the budget for Professional Development, taxpayers would run the BOE and superintendent out of town for investing in something that is not tangible and difficult to determine its value.

Follow the money.

December 10th, 2010
11:23 am

Have to keep the professional development flowing! All our central office, consultant and retired administration cronies who lead staff development courses and companies need that money!! It is all about keeping the big dollars in their pockets and not yours.

Transparent superintendent is transparent.

APS Teacher

December 10th, 2010
11:28 am

Is an effective teacher the most important factor WITHIN THE SCHOOL in regards to student achievement? Yes. Are the asinine “professional development” and “collaborative planning” sessions we are forced to endure effective in improving teacher quality? No. If you want me to be more effective, give me some real planning time, some administrative support, and do away with the endless and pointless paperwork. Maybe then I could get some teaching done.

Dr. John Trotter

December 10th, 2010
11:53 am

The problem is not the preparation of the teachers. The problem is the motivation of the students. Since no one has the guts to take on the students and their parents and just say, “Hey, your child has to put forth more effort,” then by default people like Wilbanks blame a lack of teacher preparation. No, Alvie ole boy, the lion’s share of the problem rests squarely on the shoulders of the students and their parents.

Concerned Teacher

December 10th, 2010
11:59 am

One of the things I see missing greatly in teacher training and professional development is that teachers are not encouraged to pursue more courses in their major field. A high school history teacher is only encouraged to get more training in technology, diversified learning, Georgia standards, but not ever in history. Special education majors are now required to teach in all core disciplines and core discipline teachers are now required to teach special ed. Every classroom is supposed to have at least two “bosses” to lead the “workers” while the “workers” are supposed to be allowed to choose what kind of work they want to do for the “boss” to get the “paycheck” (grades). Common sense is out the window. The chaos theory is not an appropriate learning environment.

Dr. John Trotter

December 10th, 2010
12:04 pm

Teaching is indeed more of an art than a science, and the teacher needs to be an expert in his or her field, be it Math, Science, English, U. S. History, Computers, Marketing, etc. For the gifted teacher (again, it’s mainly an art, not a science), most of the educational courses and the staff development courses are not only a waste of time but they are also very insulting. What a teacher really needs is time (not cluttered up with inane and stupid meetings) and support from the administration concerning defiant and disruptive students. This two things (time and support) cost nothing, but they are what teachers need and want. It is so simple that I am bemused at stupid editorials like the one that Wilbanks just proffered. (c) MACE, December 10, 2010.

Dr. John Trotter

December 10th, 2010
12:09 pm

Typo: “This [these] two things…” Sorry. Getting ready for Friday night football and hoping that Sandy Creek and Starr’s Mill bring back two State Championships to Fayette County this weekend. Fayette County has great athletics but also, as a whole, great academics and good discipline. See, it can be done!

HStchr

December 10th, 2010
12:25 pm

While professional development is vital to teacher quality, how exactly do we expect to “embed” it in the daily routine when most teacher are already overloaded? We spend too much time in education attending meetings to cover some ambiguous requirement so the school or system can prove it jumped through a hoop required by a funding source. We generate mountains of paperwork, we devote hours of unpaid time at home to planning, fretting, even crying over the plight of countless students, we collaboratively plan, we gather and disaggregate data, we focus on student progress… we even feed them breakfast if needed. Unfortunately we can’t go home with them and guarantee that some adult is there who will love, guide, and nurture them, let alone clothe or feed them properly. We can’t make up for the lack of love and emotional development so many endure; we can’t stop the alcohol and drug abuse they are born into; we can’t tell parents how to parent. No amount of professional development will cure the systemic social ills we have right now, and those impact achievement more than any research can show. We focus on what we can affect and hope that will be enough.

GNGS

December 10th, 2010
12:30 pm

To Dr. No “LET THE FIRINGS BEGIN!!”

Yes, fear is a motivating factor. But it can not last long. In long-term, incentive and positive re-enforcement work better. Besides, even if you had fired a lot of teachers, whom would you get to replace them without top-notch salary?

Shamus

December 10th, 2010
12:35 pm

@ Dr. Trotter,

Perhaps the word “problem” is not the best choice, but teacher preparation matters, and so does on-going teacher professional development. Colleges/universities cannot produce excellent teachers – if any college claims to do, it is insulting teachers. Teachers continue to strive toward the excellence throughout their career and colleges and universities only put the teachers at the start line.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mr. Uribarri, Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: Wilbanks: Reform debate ignores teacher quality http://bit.ly/gUwAas [...]

Jim

December 10th, 2010
12:42 pm

From Dr. Stephen Krashen:

We are always wise to “embrace teacher quality as a goal” in general,
but the current obsession with teacher quality is misguided. The
intensive focus on teacher quality, teacher evaluation, and teacher
education confirms the false assumption that there is something
seriously wrong with teachers in the US today. There is no evidence
this is so. In fact, there is strong evidence suggesting that our
teachers are doing a very good job: When we control for poverty, our
students score at the top of the world on international tests.

The claim that teacher quality is the main determinant of student
success is based on extrapolations from Hanushek’s data, not from real
teachers in real classrooms. In contrast, there is overwhelming
evidence that poverty IS the problem. Our major financial efforts now
should go toward protecting children from the effects of poverty.

The empirical evidence on the huge impact of poverty on achievement is
very real and strong. If we spend as much on protecting children from
poverty as we are willing to spend on testing children and evaluating
teachers, we can reduce the problem considerably. (The NY Times
recently promoted the Gates-inspired idea of video-taping teachers for
evaluation. If schools do this, the expense, I estimate, would be
between 6 to 10 billion per year. Spending this much on nutrition,
health care, and school libraries makes more sense than spending it on
video-taping teachers.)

The DOE and Bill Gates have managed to convince everybody that teacher
evaluation is the most serious issue today. This is a red herring that
diverts our money and time from the real issue.

Stephen Krashen

Dr. John Trotter

December 10th, 2010
1:21 pm

Shamus: Teacher preparation matters as long as a teacher is becoming an expert in his or her field. The students sense when a teacher really knows his or her field (biology, chemistry, drama, history, or whatever), and a certain amount of respect emerges among the students. But, when a teacher has been made to take a zillion education courses which contribute nothing in the way of increasing a teacher’s expertise in a subject area, then this contributes zilch relative to “preparation.” I am all for preparation, but my emphasis will always be on the field of study/subject matter, not the processes of teaching. Three to five courses in educational psychology, methodology, etc., is about all any gifted teacher really needs. Again, I am starting from the premise that teaching is an art, not a science. Trying to make a science out of an art only frustrates the heck out of everyone.

Before I ever taught, I had already earned a Bachelor’s of Art in History, not Social Science Education. I was President of our college’s chapter of Phi Alpha Theta (History Honor Society) and selected by the History Faculty as the Best U. S. History Student. My education courses came later when I was in Graduate School at UGA in History and I began to get nervous about making a income. (In the late 1970s, there was a glut in the market for Ph. D.s in the liberal arts. Although I was in the Graduate History Program at UGA, I took some time off to get certified to teach. Along with my graduate courses in history, I eventually earned a Master’s of Arts in Social Science Education at UGA, but I still think that several of the education courses were rather lame. I probably learned more doing a thesis and getting it published in a referee-type national journal.)

I would like to see a requirement that teachers in the upper grades (6 – 12) first earn a degree in a field of study and then add on a certificate to teach after receiving a degree in history, chemistry, or English, if the person chooses to teach. But, I would limit this certification gig to just a few essential courses (three to five courses at the most). Anything more is just useless educanese. (c) MACE, December 1, 2010.

one second

December 10th, 2010
2:41 pm

so the one or more ppl that wrote this make their money from getting tax dollars from school districts to train their teachers? LOL. sounds about like some of the “workshops” i have attended. one teacher “instructor” was in the classroom for 3 years, no longer taught, and was telling us how to teach. I sorry, but most of these “instructors” couldnt hack it in the classroom.

Just a Thought

December 10th, 2010
6:27 pm

Interesting that Wilbanks and Hirsh correctly say that teacher quality is “a” key factor. Teacher quality is the most important factor indeed when looking at the school environment itself. When looking at student achievement as a whole it is not teacher quality but parent involvement that is the #1 indicator of student success.

I am still not sure why education reformers refuse to address this golden calf. They refuse to seriously address the correlation between low parental involvement and low student achievement.

I am the first to demand that all students have high quality teachers. However, I have seen many a great teacher become frustrated and burned out because everything they do at school is undone at home by parents who do not make education a priority.

Every day you start over with the same battle–trying to convince students that their education is important. Even that will wear down the most committed, passionate, and highly qualified teacher. Some leave teaching altogether. Others, unfortunately, quit even trying and resort to what both the parents and students want…the easy “A” which is NOT an education. Grade inflation anyone?

amused

December 10th, 2010
8:56 pm

here’s real life example of the “quality”: Teacher is chair of curriculum for grade level in middle school. ESOL student is failing, and FINALLY academic team is able to get dad in for conference with interpreter. Uh oh, teacher chair has a curriculum meeting that conflicts. Teacher asks administrators which meeting to attend- administrative meeting, or conference for the failing student? Answer: attend the curriculum meeting.

Larry Major

December 10th, 2010
10:14 pm

If a way to mandate parental involvement existed, Alvin would be the first to implement it with his trademark enthusiasm. It’s not that school administrators don’t realize parental involvement is important, but the fact that it isn’t something they can control.

Considering public school administrators currently have an unprecedented full plate, the time they can devote to things out of their control is limited, if it exists at all.

Hoobie

December 10th, 2010
10:55 pm

No human being could teach many of today’s kids with the attention spans of a gnat and IQ’s approximately equal to their grade point average. Especially in Georgia.

Fled

December 10th, 2010
11:39 pm

So glad to be out of Georgia where low IQs and arrogance manage to live together. I never had a single PD session that was worth anything at all. Wilbanks is just another clown in a state full of them.

long time educator

December 11th, 2010
6:30 am

Professional development is NOT the answer. Hiring smarter people is. I agree that teachers need to earn a 4 year degree in an actual subject before entering a teacher preparation program and that should be mainly interning in the classroom with a great teacher. This four year degree requirement should not just be for 6-12; elementary teachers need the discipline and intelligence it would require to earn that subject area bachelor’s degree. Hiring the smartest, most on-the-ball people you can find is the most significant and long lasting job an administrator does.

Teaching Family

December 11th, 2010
6:36 am

I’ve yet to attend a professional development course put on by a school system that was worthwhile. In addition, the graduate education classes that I took were interesting, but certainly not challenging. It’s strange to suggest, but the college education departments & HR departments in school systems need to take a lesson from other departments within the university system on how to produce and prepare professionals. The teaching skills I’ve acquired have come from 2 sources: 1) peer coaching in the classroom (the first year of teaching was a crash course in hell b/c I was so unprepared for the realities of the classroom), and 2) my undergraduate journalism degree. In fact, I’ve used the structure, feedback model and content of those journalism classes to define and develop my teaching methods at the elementary level.

The bar needs to be raised on the teaching profession – through better screening of teaching candidates, challenging but focused coursework in content areas, thoughtful placement of teachers based on personality, interest and ability, and quality pay. The school systems also need to consider overhauling their perception of professional development, applying the catch phrase of ‘rigor and relevance’ to its own productions.

Just a Thought

December 11th, 2010
1:41 pm

There are innovative ways to mandate parental involvment but no one is advocating for them. One, enforce the laws that already exist (i.e. taking parents of students with poor attendance rates to court) and two, in Title I schools tie free/reduced lunch programs to parent involvement. If parents are not showing up for teacher conferences (at minimum) or simply absentee all the time when the school tries to reach out they loose their benefits. For parents who receive welfare and are unemployed, put them to work in the schools (hall monitoring, running copies, etc.) This is not rocket science but NO ONE is willing to go there at the moment for whatever reasons. I do believe in helping people who are down and out but I also believe that you have to give back. If not in money then at least in serving your community. What better way to do that than in your child’s school?

I know that schools can not control what goes on beyond our walls but we do have some possible “incentives” that could be used to increase parent involvement. We just aren’t using them.

Have Teacher Will Travel

December 11th, 2010
3:50 pm

I was increduous at the absolute apathy with which the students were approaching the EOCT. 5 weeks before the exam and I am hunkering down. Have you been studying your notes? What notes they said. Have you been reviewing the teen prepared packet I gave you? I didn’t get one most said. Ok, well let’s try a different approach. I don’t like your teaching style Mr. Big Stuff marijuana boy says. Me either says all doped out. Can you turn off the cell phone please? Why can’t you just give us a grade? You can’t teach no way says weave tastic after an absence of two weeks. So, are we ready now?

Typical day in my world. They gave the Teach for America teacher at my school the wrong kids and she quit after a month.

HS Public Teachers

December 11th, 2010
8:20 pm

I am so sick of hearing about “teacher quality.”

If a teacher is ineffective, then why have not the administration moved to remove them? If this is not happening, is it the fault of the ineffective teacher?

So, then, the question is NOT regarding “teacher quality” but rather “ineffective admimistrators” that are not doing their job to remove those teachers, right?

Let’s accurately identify the problem before charging down the wrong path!!!

Fire Bad Teachers

December 11th, 2010
11:57 pm

I recently added K-5 certification to my middle and high school Georgia teaching certification. I prepared for the Georgia exam by purchasing a review book at Barnes and Noble and reading it the night before the exam. While waiting to take the exam, I spoke with several recent graduates from the University of Georgia. Many of the students were attempting the K-5 certification test for the third or fourth time. I passed the exam on my first attempt. It is bothersome on many levels when students can not pass the exam after spending 4-5 years preparing for the exam. Our state’s teacher preparation programs are failing our hopeful teachers in the same way many k-12 schools are failing their students.

Fire Bad Teachers

December 12th, 2010
12:07 am

Weak school boards allow weak adminstrators to keep weak teachers.
Schools should not be jobs programs. Public schools are intrusted with society’s most valuable asset and adults should never take precedence over the children. Afterall, schools exist for the children. Real school reform will occur when the adults remember it’s about the students.

Educator

December 12th, 2010
10:01 am

As a veteran teacher who is retired from a northern state and came to GA to double dip, the problem is the thin teacher pool in Georgia. There is still a teacher shortage, that is why GA needs all of the alternative certification programs! Why? It’s because of low pay and lack of respect, both from redneck administrators and the public in general, in addition to historically low academic performance in this state (of despair!)
The republicans in Georgia (who are a totally different breed than republicans up noth) are h3ll bent on destroying what is left of the public schools in Georgia. If I were a young teacher early in my career I would be long gone, but I still have a passion for teaching and am effectively making a positive difference in the lives of my students.

Time4change

December 12th, 2010
10:06 am

Okay, I have a degree In a subject area, then I have a Master’s in Education. I am very happy with my preparation. However, my salary is down 17 percent in three year and I feel lucky to have a job with no certainty I won’t be part of the future cuts. Merit pay doesn’t want to pay for advanced degrees. How can you possibly attract someone to the profession asking them to commit to two additional years of school and tuition and pay them less with no job security? You can’t have highly qualified cheap labor. What Georgia expects is unrealistic and destined to fail in the current climate and the students pay the price.

Educator

December 12th, 2010
10:27 am

Oh, but Wilbanks does not understand the “art” in teaching. He believes in teacher robots and video lessons where every teacher is on the same lesson at the same time while his dummy administrators shuffle paperwork to make is look as though learning by all is taking place! There is no room to question his omnipotence. Sorry Alvin, this veteran educator sees right through your smoke. I have absolutely no respect for you!

dog eat dog world

December 12th, 2010
10:51 am

Just going to take care of myself, teach in my in own little corner of the world and do my best to ignore the politics of this society. why not? doesn’t everyone look out for just their own interests?

Williev2000

December 12th, 2010
8:38 pm

I see so many teachers come to professional learning training and act worst than their students. Their excuse, “It’s a waste!” Then they go in their classrooms and continue to do the same things they have been doing (incorrectly) for years. The key to school improvement IS a quaility teacher. The only way to improve teacher quality is through professional learning.

Teaching is an art (talented at developing positive relationships); but it’s also science (specific techniques). You have to be skilled at both! Many teachers lack both and don’t know it.

Join studentsfirst.org now!

Art

December 12th, 2010
10:23 pm

The GCPOS can toot its own horn abotu the Braodprize but let’s remeber it was for education of monorities not everyone. In their zeal to educate the minorities they forgot others who also needed the extra help. My son was diagnosed with ADHD in Kindergarten but the bureacracy of the GCPS did not allow the teacher to recommend testing early on in the year and it took two months for her to drop enough hints for us to ask about testing. It wasn’t until January that the testing was evaluated and then another month for the GCPS to set up a meeting for parents and teachers to set up an action plan. Thus most of the school year was wasted. He was promoted to first grade and struggled through because of lack of preparedness due to the schools not dealing with the issue early on. He was assigned a special education class in speech/language arts in a meeting in February/March of his first grade year. While myself and the etachers agreed he had a reading problem which was causing other academic problems he was nto assigned that necessary resource. At the end of the first grade school year they recommended he do first grade over again thus another waste of a year. He did somewhat better the next time through first grade and continued on to second while staying in the speech/language arts special ed program but while still strugglign in reading he was again denied special ed help. This continued on into third grade when finally in the spring of his third grade year after falling a grade behind in his reading skills they decided now he could also be in the special education class for reading. I dont know what stupidity kept the school system from dealing with the issue using existing resources until it was becoming a real crisis. Was it because they were providing resources for the minorities who spoke English as a second language instead of providing help for all who qualified and needed it? The GCPS will proudly tout the Broad prize because their priorities led them to win it. But at what cost? What other students were left out in the rush to deal with the growing minority population in the schools? The resources should be available to all who qualify and not just some. Are the resources finite because of spending cuts casued by state funding cut backs? Where are our priorities? The children are our future.

[...] To link to the discussion on this opinion piece at the GetSchooled blog at the AJC, click here. [...]

fulldawg

December 13th, 2010
11:00 am

I am sure Senator Bill Cowsert will keep in touch through his blog (as he promised) with how he and his contributor-friend Lindsey Cook with Curriculum Advantage will fix all this. See Bill’s up to-date blog here –> http://www.billcowsert.com/blog2.html

[...] County Public Schools is a meeting with members of the Gwinnett Delegation of the Georgia …Wilbanks: Reform debate ignores teacher qualityAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)all 3 news [...]

MarcT

December 16th, 2010
11:24 am

The minute my brain wrapped around “professional development” coming from a school superintendent, it instantly translated as “pork for school administrators.” By the time I reached the end of Wilbanks’ article, I had no doubts. Wilbanks wants to make sure that taxpayers dollars continue to fund meaningless educational arts courses and other feckless training that allow educators to punch a ticket and get higher pay without one iota of improvement in our children’s performance. Already in this forum, some honest teachers who know this shell game have called it for what it is. Can anyone be blind to the fact that Wilbanks’ verbiage offers practically no specific proposals? Just a lot of platitudes and endless repetitions of the words “professional development.” Wilbanks has inadvertently revealed the hollow core at the center of high-level education administrators like himself and the core reason for the failure of our schools: we’ve put people like him in charge.