New York lawmakers may reconsider public’s right to see how teachers are rated

report cardThe release of teacher ratings in New York has led to discussion in the legislature there to limit general public access to the information while still allowing parents to see how their child’s teacher performed.

The debate in New York ought to closely watched here in Georgia where teaching ratings are just around the corner as part of the state’s Race to the Top reforms.

It is still unclear whether those ratings will be released in Georgia. Education policy leaders involved in Race to the Top have said in the past that they will not seek publication of teacher ratings, but the Legislature or governor may disagree.

According to The New York Times: (This is only an excerpt. Try to read full piece.)

With the Legislature preparing to go into session next week, the question of how much privacy teachers are granted could soon be resolved. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said Monday that he believed in preserving the public access guaranteed by current law. The city released its teachers rankings in February after defeating a teachers’ union lawsuit to keep the reports private.

“We should have all of the data out there,” the mayor said when asked about the issue at a news conference on solar energy production. “I think the courts have ruled that way, and I think the public, when you survey them, thinks that people have a right to the data.”

State legislators and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo have been receptive to union arguments that teachers have a right to a measure of privacy. Mr. Cuomo said recently that while evaluations of other city employees like firefighters, police officers and correction officers should remain private, it was more complicated for teachers. “I believe in the case of teachers, the parents’ right to know outweighs the teachers’ right to privacy,” Mr. Cuomo said. “After that, it’s less clear to me, and that’s why I think it warrants conversation.”

Supporters and opponents of public access note several complicating factors, including the question of whether parents could be prevented from publicizing the evaluations of their children’s teachers, in a newspaper or on a blog for instance.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

82 comments Add your comment

Ron F.

April 12th, 2012
8:52 pm

If the data were reliable, there wouldn’t be such resistance. I think the questions surrounding the reliability could lead to lawsuits that could end up costing the city a lot to defend. Also, if you’re going to publish scores for one sector of public employees, then you should publish them all. Personally, I’d like to know how my police officers rank as much as my children’s teachers.

Parent Teacher

April 12th, 2012
9:08 pm

We teachers need to develop a parent evaluation system. Then we can publish the parents effectiveness. We should also publish the students grades as part of the parents effectiveness.

catlady

April 12th, 2012
9:13 pm

Parent Teacher, I agree with you, but let’s just publish the IQs of the New York legislators!

Once Again

April 12th, 2012
9:22 pm

Just imagine if a private company did that because their ratings were so low or because they thought it might hurt business. Most customers would take their business elsewhere or the company would likely fire low-scoring employees. Not so with government. They steal your money first, take your house if you don’t pay, don’t care if you take your business elsewhere because they will still steal your money, and heaven forbid you attenpt to take your business to anyone they haven’t “blessed” with thier omniscient hand, they will likely arrest you, take your kid, and arrest the person providing the service. Their service meanwhile will never get any better. Why should it? They have your money and if they feel like it, they will hide the truth of how much their other customers hate their service too.

Way to go government. Seriously. A fully educated society could be achieved far better with government OUT of the picture. When is anything going to change when the first thing they do is take away your freedom??

Ron F.

April 12th, 2012
9:46 pm

Once Again: How then do we pay for this new system? Tax dollars? How do we provide for every child to be educated? It’s not an easy task, as I’m sure you are well aware. The problem with these ratings is the formula used and its inability to accurately and fairly rate teachers. A great teacher in a low performing school is doomed and a mediocre teacher in a good school is guaranteed a better score. How do we fairly, consistently rate teachers? What about those who choose to work in the typically low performing schools? How do we attract teachers to work in those schools if they know going in that their score rating will likely be low? Seems to me there has to be a better way to rate them.

As to solving the problems in education, even the private sector doesn’t have a way to fix the problems that produce the wide variety of kids and abilities that walk into a school on a typical day. Until you can fix the society that produces the children, no school, public or private, will ever be perfect. And I don’t believe we can afford to just not educate those who can’t or won’t learn for whatever reason.

Sorry to hit you with all those questions, but as a career teacher, I find the idea of just getting the government out of the business to be no better an idea for fixing a system that reflects the society from which it draws its participants.

Old Physics Teacher

April 12th, 2012
10:14 pm

Hey Once Again,

While they’re at it, why not let the employees rate their executives’ ability and performance, too? Like that would really happen! And if you believe that businesses fire the employees with the worse ratings, boy do I have a deal for you on some beach-front property in Arizona!

“They (government) steal your money first, take your house if you don’t pay…When is anything going to change when… they take away your freedom.” WHAT!? What government are you talking about? Man, you’ve been reading way too much “Patriot” literature, and watching Braveheart way too many times. The government of These United States doesn’t do what you claim. But some of that has diatribe does have a few kernels of truth. You’re right about the government preventing “holistic doctors” and “lay lawyers” from making money by conning simplistic citizens into giving away their money. But, that’s the state of today’s society. Our society believes ignorant people should be protected from making stupid decisions that destroys their family’s net worth, and that the con men who prey on them should be put in jail. Some of us agree with you and believe those ignorant people have a right to destroy their own lives, get sick and die because they lost all their money. Luckily, the majority of us would like to see the children of these gullible people have a chance to have a good life, and that the thieves should be made to give back their “loot”.
Oh, and while you’re reading up on what government should do for the people, you might want to read up on Thomas Jefferson (you may have heard of him?). He believed, and wrote on the concept that public schools are necessary to provide an educated society.

Brandy

April 12th, 2012
10:48 pm

There is now a group that has come up with a Value-Added Evaluation system for US Secretaries of Education. News Flash: Almost all (including Spelling AND Duncan) were determined to be ineffective or failures.

TheRog

April 13th, 2012
4:18 am

“I might be OK with it but only if they publish my entire, detailed evaluation, not just a number. Oh but wait, that would be too cumbersome for the media to handle, wouldn’t it?”

Outer Perimeter

April 13th, 2012
9:08 am

Right on, Catlady!

Michael Moore

April 13th, 2012
9:22 am

The bulk of the rating depends on a value-added test score which is a highly complex, yet illusory mathematical prediction of student performance on a future high-stakes test.

Basically, a computer predicts how a student will do next year based on the previous year’s test score, and controlling for factors like race, income, gender, and years in the system.

Not factored into the analysis are demographic and other factors—consistently demonstrated by massive amounts of research to have a profound impact on academic performance—such as poverty, non-native English speakers, special education, or how students are grouped in classrooms.

It is no surprise the margin of error for value-added test scores recently released in New York is a mind-boggling 35% in math, and as much as 53% in English.

Fred in DeKalb

April 13th, 2012
9:26 am

The solution could be to have teachers be a part of designing an evaluation system.

EduKtr

April 13th, 2012
9:53 am

It’s a natural for parents (and taxpayers) to wish to be informed of a teacher’s performance … as it’s predictable some teachers will oppose the idea. How many of those in the outside world enjoy the formal work assessment process? Yet, how many are able to evade it by arguing a “special case” situation?

If K-12 education existed within the open marketplace, rather than as a government-run monopoly, these and so many other seemingly intractable concerns would fall by the wayside in comparison to the central task of better educating our kids.

EduKtr

April 13th, 2012
10:11 am

I see Ron F (a.k.a. “Brandy”) is in his tiny union headquarters cubicle—dishing the usual scorn and obfuscation on any education reform granting parents (or taxpayers) the chance to hold public schools more accountable.

Parent Teacher

April 13th, 2012
10:41 am

“If K-12 education existed within the open marketplace, rather than as a government-run monopoly, these and so many other seemingly intractable concerns would fall by the wayside in comparison to the central task of better educating our kids.”

If this were the open market place most students would not be able to afford education and the students who struggle the most, low income, would not be in the classroom and all teachers would have a higher level of success.

Now reality, it is government run and funded to provide for ALL students not just the affluent. It is kind of like insurance, everyone pays in, some use more than others and society as a whole benefits. Humans are extremely complex and have a vast array of abilities, problems, strengths, weaknesses, social background, income and many other variables. It is impossible to adjust and account for all these variables to create a fair and honest evaluation system.

AWilliams

April 13th, 2012
10:47 am

@EduKtr: SIncere question. If you were “shopping” for a K12 school, what criteria would you use? What is on your shopping list? What specifically are you looking for that your current public school is not providing?

AWilliams

April 13th, 2012
10:48 am

@EduKtr: And could you also provide an approximate $$ amount for how much you think those services should cost?

EduKtr

April 13th, 2012
11:33 am

Well, I wondered how long Ron F “& Company” could remain out of any discussion which included an appeal to greater parental choice in K-12 education! ;-)

What should private schools cost? The marketplace will sort that out, Ron, exactly as it does in all other consumer decisions. Catholic schools typically deliver education for far less than taxpayers now pay per student in public schools—as you no doubt know over there at union headquarters.

Will that result in a segregation by individual economic situation—perhaps even approaching the segregation now produced by whites, Asians and middle class blacks fleeing the inner-city public schools?

Perhaps. Then again, perhaps not.

Public HS Teacher

April 13th, 2012
11:48 am

The only solution in Georgia is to force a true teacher union. Teachers in GA are so very abused from most every angle and there is no one or no governing body to help.

Please don’t respond with GEA or PAGE or whatever. In Georgia they are nothing more than nutured puppies. They have no power at all (but are more than happy to take money from teachers every month as an “organization”).

Look at APS. The teachers in those “closed” schools are now with out jobs. APS does not allow them any help and it doesn’t matter if they were ‘good’ teachers or ‘tenured’ teachers or whatever. All APS says is that maybe if another school wants them then they will pick them up. What bull!

Working anywhere as a good employee should allow that person some sense of security and priority if their location closes and there are opportunities of employment nearby.

This is just one example of how Georgia teachers are abused. No wonder education in Georgia is going downhill!

AWilliams

April 13th, 2012
12:08 pm

@EduKtr: Once again, I respectfully submit the following question. In “shopping around” for the ideal k12 school. what is your criteria?

Wait…One more question…What is the average cost (books, supplies, tuition, etc) at a “typical Catholic school” that meets your criteria?

a joker

April 13th, 2012
12:46 pm

I have been a teacher in Georgia for 29 years. I wish some of you people would tell me the name of that union, so I could become a member.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

April 13th, 2012
1:15 pm

@EduKtr “How many of those in the outside world enjoy the formal work assessment process? Yet, how many are able to evade it by arguing a “special case” situation?”

Would you willingly allow yourself to be “evaluated” by a process with a 30%-70% error rate? If you say yes, then you are a fool. Teachers aren’t fools.

Once Again

April 13th, 2012
1:56 pm

Always the same excuses for not allowing a truly free market to operate. And yes, Jefferson did believe in the concept of educating everyone in society. That certainly is not what we have today. If you really want to see where this current educaiton system (versus what Jefferson likely envisioned) came from, go to YouTube and search on John Taylor Gatto, The Ultimate History Lesson and find out the truth. It will shock the hell out of you when you see who was behind today’s version of public schooling and what its REAL goal is all about. That is if you have the courage.

Don H

April 13th, 2012
4:22 pm

@AWilliams: Sorry if I missed your “once again” question.

Or perhaps I simply dismissed it as irrelevant? After all, what I or any parent (or you) consider to be prime factors in choosing a K-12 school within a free market system—would differ as much as in choosing my child’s university. You might opt for a school dedicated to providing its teachers with high pay and benefits unmatched in the corporate world.

I may choose instead to give more weight to actual education outcomes.

As for costs, I see the National Catholic Education Association lists the mean cost of parish school tuition as $3,383 per year: http://www.ncea.org/faq/catholiceducationfaq.asp

Tonya C.

April 13th, 2012
4:40 pm

Don H.

2012 — 2013 Tuition
Kindergarten, Grades 1 — 8

1. Catholic Students Active Parish Rate: $6,820 per student

That line was taken directly off the website for St. John Neuman Regional Catholic School in Lilburn. A far cry from the so-called ‘mean’ cost listed. Just as an example of what it costs to live someone other than say, Nebraska.

And as far as high pay and benefits unmatched in the corporate world, what school system is offering that? Please do tell. Because the pay and benefits for teachers in the state of Georgia isn’t better than what is being offered at many of the major Fortune 500 companies here, and many times worse.

Don H

April 13th, 2012
4:57 pm

@Tonya

I spent 12 years as a middle school teacher in suburban Atlanta. My wife is in the corporate world. So I have firsthand knowledge of each. We use MY healthcare benefit rather than hers, as MINE is 75% paid for by the taxpayers. Any questions?

Second, the cost you cite for that particular Catholic school is less than what taxpayers pay to educate students in the average K-12 public school nationwide, according to the U.S. Government: http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=66

And Tonya, in what Fortune 500 firm does 3 months of paid vacation come with the job?

Tonya C.

April 13th, 2012
5:15 pm

When was the last time you taught? Because currently, the insurance offered by the state averages $300 per month, not including the HSA most people set up in order to meet the deductible. Teacher pay is based on a per diem basis, so they are paid for time worked. Period. It calculates out to an annual salary, but it is still per diem.In fact, the insurance through my job is actually CHEAPER than my teacher husband (my company offers the same contribution with a better plan). And he would tell you he would be more than happy to work year-round versus being stuck with a set time for being off. In fact, many teachers on this board have suggested an extension of the school year but have been rebuffed.

As far as three months off, in return they give up the acces to take time as needed, social security benefits, and lower pay. In addition, they don’t select their students. Everything has its tradeoffs.

It costs less to serve a private school population because the population served. It’s easy to serve customers who are engaged and want to be there, and can be told to find other accomodations if it doesn’t work out. My husband teaches special ed in an alternative school. Please tell me how ‘free market education’ would address this? Or special needs–we have a son with Aspergers and most private schools won’t touch him DESPITE him being primarily mainstreamed.

But why is this even relevant to this discussion? In the private sector, my performance review is between my supervisor and myself. I am being graded on MY performance with little regard to outside factors. The benchmarks are clear and transparent. The state of NY is admitting that it’s system is severely flawed and unnecessarily penalizes teachers.

senseandsensibility

April 13th, 2012
5:24 pm

Well while were at it lets publish who gets welfare checks, food stamps, how many tickets a particular officer writes, how fast a firefighter can climb a ladder, how many times a nurse has been late. I mean really? where does this right to know everything come from? Id like to publish how many open houses parents come to, or how many absensces their child has. this is over the top. Its up to the school system to evaluate their employees, not the public

Tony

April 13th, 2012
5:25 pm

So many lies are presented today, it is unbelievable!

Public schools’ so-called average cost per child for education is so high because of the special education costs that are astronomical. Private schools typically do not educate these children.

There is no such benefit for teachers as 3 months of paid vacation. We are paid for the 190 days of service and it is divided over 12 months.

The so-called value added calculation is nothing more than hocus pocus math. It has a 35-50% error rate as has been clearly demonstrated in both Los Angeles and New York city. This is not an evaluation system. It is more of a random number generator.

Catholic schools are usually good schools, but when you are able to staff a school with nuns who are not paid according to comparable school salaries that kind of distorts the comparison, don’t you think?

Too bad so many people insist on using lies and discredited information in discussions like this.

senseandsensibility

April 13th, 2012
5:39 pm

private education is still subsidized by public money through vouchers in some states, and the tuition you pay is subsidized by the parish as well. It costs less because they pay less. We all know that, but the clientele and class sizes they serve are totally different. Also in church schools.. survey whose working and see if they are the sole provider or this is second income to their family because their spouse works. So they probably are willing to take less and aren’t concerned about fighting for more rights or better work environment. Three months off?? since when, I hope you weren’t a math teacher.

Don H

April 13th, 2012
5:55 pm

@Tonya/Sense/Tony

As you are in all likelihood the same person, paid by the NEA to inundate us all day long with the union viewpoint …

My retired teachers’ group health plan costs less than $300 a month for my family. This is far less than I’d pay through my wife’s Fortune 500 plan for comparable coverage. And it’s guaranteed renewable—courtesy of the Georgia taxpayer. So get real !

And Tonya’s husband would really rather work year-round than have 3 month’s of paid leave? Need I comment on that??

Your comments on public vs private economies of scale betray either a gross lack of understanding of basic economics or a terminal case of union-think. Which is it? And p.s.: your employer IS THE TAXPAYER. Why are we taxpayers out of line in expecting RESULTS for the income you rob our families of each April 15th?

The teaching staffs at Catholic schools haven’t included NUNS in any appreciable numbers since the 1950s. (But I forgive you for not knowing that fact…)

AWilliams

April 13th, 2012
7:15 pm

“After all, what I or any parent (or you) consider to be prime factors in choosing a K-12 school within a free market system—would differ as much as in choosing my child’s university.”

True…but I’m not sure one can use the college selection process and a truly free market system as prime examples.

Selecting a child’s university is a two-way street. You can apply anywhere you can afford, however, that does not guarantee acceptance. Does this mean you think opening the door to a free market system will also mean allowing the schools to set admission criteria?

“I may choose instead to give more weight to actual education outcomes.”

How would you judge those actual education outcomes? Test scores? Adherence to the Common Core Standards? Homework assignments? Course offerings? Opportunities for the arts and music? Science classes that are lab-based? AP courses?

“@AWilliams: Sorry if I missed your “once again” question.Or perhaps I simply dismissed it as irrelevant?”

Thanks for attempting to answer my questions. While I’m still unsure what you consider a quality school, I do appreciate the attempt.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

April 13th, 2012
7:17 pm

@Don H “And Tonya’s husband would really rather work year-round than have 3 month’s of paid leave? Need I comment on that??”

Paid leave? I find it hard to believe you were ever a teacher when you refer to teachers’ time off as “paid leave” since we are only paid for the days we work and no more… as well as the continual reference to “unions” in a state in which there are no teachers’ unions in any real sense of the word. Not to mention, you seem so anti-public schools in your comments, yet claim to have been a teacher so one would think you would express some gratitude for your benefits rather than going on about how you are being “robbed” by the very public sector, which is providing you with those benefits. If you feel so strongly that the taxpayers are being bled by public school employees’ health benefits, then why not put your money where you mouth is and use your wife’s insurance policy?

By the way, the repeated suggestions by some posters that any one who disagrees with them must be:

a. The same person
b. Paid union shrills

…is beginning to seem suspicious in itself.

Are we really supposed to take your input seriously when you make comments like: “Your employer IS THE TAXPAYER. Why are we taxpayers out of line in expecting RESULTS for the income you rob our families of each April 15th?”

My employer is a school system, and I don’t rob anyone. I pay my taxes like everyone else. State and Federal governments collect taxes, not school systems.

Don H

April 13th, 2012
7:24 pm

@AWilliams

… So as you can see, Georgia, attempting to reform our failing public schools IS FRAUGHT WITH SUCH UNCERTAINTY that you’d be well advised to just continue turning your tax dollars over to the current bunch of incompetents—and live with the results!

Georgia parents could never be trusted to make appropriate education decisions regarding their own children!

AWilliams

April 13th, 2012
7:30 pm

@Don H: But your answers imply you have a better solution for GA public schools…what is your solution? Saying a “true free market system is the answer” is simplistic. Give us details. How long would it take to create a free market system that, in your mind, will eventually lead to a “perfected” form of educating all students? Would this be a quick evolution?

Also, in one post you insist that parents be given total freedom in making appropriate education decisions and then you say GA parents could never be trusted to make appropriate decisions. I’m confused…

Ron F.

April 13th, 2012
7:36 pm

“What should private schools cost? The marketplace will sort that out, Ron, exactly as it does in all other consumer decisions. Catholic schools typically deliver education for far less than taxpayers now pay per student in public schools—as you no doubt know over there at union headquarters.”

WOW- I haven’t even been home today as it’s Spring Break and I chose to spend time with my kids, and my name still comes up. How nice to be thought of so acidly!!

If you had sense enough to read my posts on the many threads you haunt here, you’d know I’m not against choice as long as it’s done well and protects the needs of ALL students. Frankly, I’d like to see schools get competitive about what they offer. However, I will respectfully withhold acceptance of charters, vouchers, et. al. until I see a plan for how to make it work for kids who don’t have transportation to the “school of choice” and how we’ll guarantee that these new, perfect schools will answer the diverse needs of our population. When my at-risk kids, who I love, get the same chances and acceptance as the more affluent kids, I’ll give my full support. Just saying “we’ll see how the free market does it” isn’t enough. The free market, unwatched and unfettered, put us into a huge recession we’ll be digging our way out of for the next decade. I’m not sure I want to trust them with all that tax money just yet.

Don H

April 13th, 2012
7:40 pm

@AWilliams: There’s nothing “simplistic” about marketplace solutions. It’s what you yourself will refer to in deciding where to purchase the goods and services your family needs during the next weeks, months and years.

You only recoil at the thought of giving parents the same opportunity when it comes to their kids’ schooling.

In a tuition voucher system you will be absolutely free to send your kids to the local public school. End of story … except that your neighbors will likewise be free to send THEIRS to the public or private school THEY have confidence in. The Obamas can do it because they’re rich. Why shouldn’t your neighbors be likewise able to consider alternatives to the local public school?

Don H

April 13th, 2012
7:46 pm

@Ron F: If the needs of “ALL students” were currently being met to the satisfaction of parents and taxpayers we wouldn’t be having this discussion—nor would you be living in abject fear of parents empowered to finally decide for themselves what’s best for their kids!

Ron F.

April 13th, 2012
7:50 pm

“In a tuition voucher system you will be absolutely free to send your kids to the local public school. End of story … except that your neighbors will likewise be free to send THEIRS to the public or private school THEY have confidence in.”

Don: While that would seem like a simple plan, here’s a question. How does this system help parents who want their kids in a different school but cannot provide transportation? In the metro area, perhaps public transportation would be an alternative, but out in the rural areas what would they do? That would leave a good portion of the population dependent on the local public school as their only choice. Part of me thinks that’s an unstated part of the plan- to keep the poor kids in the public schools and let the more mobile, and more affluent, get away from them. I’m not sure there’s an easy answer to that. I know quite a few poor parents who are very involved in their kids’ lives and who would gladly send their kids to a private school if they had a voucher but who don’t have cars and/or don’t have the money to pay for the gas to get the kids back and forth. Some private schools offer transporation, but it’s usually in a limited area.

Don H

April 13th, 2012
8:00 pm

Ron: Parents who choose to send their kids to the local public school, or are unable to make arrangements to transport them to preferred schools, would perhaps continue to make use of local public schools. That might continue the de facto segregation we now experience—though maybe not.

You seem to automatically ASSUME that no parent would find transportation solutions. But do you know workers who car pool? Do you not think some students might be within walking distance of a new start-up school offering a better “fit” for their needs? Do you image no charity or foundation would step up to the plate to offer stipends to cover costs for students who succeed in their studies?

Or is it just more convenient for you to perpetually nay-say education reform?

AWilliams

April 13th, 2012
8:04 pm

@Don: So what do you consider a fair amount for vouchers? 3K, 5K, 10K, 15K? What is a fair and reasonable amount? Will the amount differ depending on the child’s needs? Will we budget more funds for special education students?

What happens when tuition costs increase and do not keep up with the vouchers? Will we pass laws to cap tuition costs? Will we increase tax revenues to keep pace with tuition?

Don H

April 13th, 2012
8:15 pm

@AWilliams: Parents will be free to use the tuition vouchers to send their kids to either the local public or private school. Whichever makes sense to them. NO CHOICE WILL BE FORCED ON THEM.

Why is that impossible for you to grasp??

Public schools will likely still have students—yours, Ron’s and anyone else with a vested interest in the status quo?

Tuition vouchers might be valued at the per pupil cost of a public school education. Whatever the dollar amount—parents will be free to use them at the local public school, if that’s their choice. Please re-read the preceding sentence as many times as it takes for the meaning to finally sink in.

Don H

April 13th, 2012
8:33 pm

@Ron F: Please tell me that GAE/NEA is forced to pay you overtime for these after-hours debates. That much less union cash will be left over for the Obama 2012 campaign. ;-)

Ron F.

April 13th, 2012
9:06 pm

“Or is it just more convenient for you to perpetually nay-say education reform?”

Don, I’m asking honest questions as a teacher in a poor district. I have typed, numerous times, that I will support any reform that offers the same level of options and assurances to my poor kids in our rural setting that it will offer to more affluent or more mobile metropolitan Atlanta kids. We agree on the need for reform if not the methods. But make no mistake; I will give my support to a plan which is fair to all kids in this state, and I’ve yet to see assurances from anyone under the infamous gold dome that that will happen.

“But do you know workers who car pool? Do you not think some students might be within walking distance of a new start-up school offering a better “fit” for their needs? Do you image no charity or foundation would step up to the plate to offer stipends to cover costs for students who succeed in their studies?”

The current system, with all it’s obvious faults, offers transportation. In my district, for instance, the school buildings are all near town, and the kids in the rest of the county have to either ride the bus or find rides. Carpooling could work for some, but we have a good percentage of the population that don’t have cars. I would hope that if the state offered a voucher plan that they would offer a transportation subsidy for those who live at or below the poverty level to at least give them a little help to access those options and offer incentives for organizations to offer transportation- I could see how that might work. That’s all I’m asking for- some assurance that those who really want their kids to have a chance and whose children truly are trying to reach for something better but who are limited by poverty to have access to it- and I’m not seeing anyone honestly offering that. If I seem suspicious or negative, it’s because I’ve spent too many years watching the very capable and often misunderstood and negatively stereotyped kids I teach be offered few options. And what I fear is that much of what is debated here will benefit those who already have more options more than it will the very neediest of our kids.

My apologies if I seem opposed to reform. I work with a needy group that has little voice and few advocates here or in the decision making positions in the current system or any proposed alternative.

Ron F.

April 13th, 2012
9:11 pm

“@Ron F: Please tell me that GAE/NEA is forced to pay you overtime for these after-hours debates. That much less union cash will be left over for the Obama 2012 campaign.”

Why do you mistake my concern for my kids? Why must you and others here continue to turn an honest debate into such childish commentary on a union of which I am not, nor will ever be, a member? I AM NOT NOW, NOR WILL EVER BE A MEMBER OF NEA. Can we clear that up and have an honest intellectual debate, or will you continue to lower yourself to such foolishness? One reason reform doesn’t happen is that you guys can’t seem to take and answer honest questions.

AWilliams

April 13th, 2012
9:20 pm

@Don H. If the state legislature will agree to give me 10K per child each year (I have 3 children), then I will consider tuition vouchers. If the same legislators will promise to fully fund the amount and keep pace with rising tuition costs, I would find that a reasonable compromise. Since our legislature has a history of imposing austerity cuts, I would need some assurance that the full amount will be available for the entire school year. It would be terribly inconvenient to get a voucher reduction in March.

Also, private schools will be required to accept all students, including the full-range of students with disabilities.

Now, will we also expect the private schools to participate in standardized testing? I’m sure you will agree the taxpayers deserve accountability for their money. Of course, we will also need to evaluate private school teachers and publish their scores next to public school teachers.

Will we give vouchers to home schoolers? You know…to be fair? But, how would we ensure our tax dollars are being used appropriately? I guess we should include all home schooled children in the annual standardized testing and publish their parent’s VAA score as well.

Thanks Don for opening my eyes to the infinite possibilities of vouchers ;)

Ron F.

April 13th, 2012
9:32 pm

Don: I typed a reply that has apparently gone into techno-la-la land. Here’s a summary:

Carpooling could work for some, and I’m sure plent of middle-class folks would have to consider it.

I’m not sure about the whole charity transportation idea. That could be a big expense. Maybe if the state offered a transportation subsidy for those with incomes below the poverty level?

Please don’t mistake my seeming negativity for resistance to change. I’ll fully support any plan that takes into account the needs of my very deserving, if too often negatively stereotyped kids. I’ve spent way too many years fighting for my kids to surrender them to whatever is left after the affluent and mobile leave for better options. It take a lot of dedication and determination to work with my kids and keep doing it year after year. I would LOVE to see them have better, as I would all kids.

I humbly ask you and others who continue to accuse me of being a union supporter to understand that my passion comes from years of working with kids who started their lives with much less but deserve equal access to whatever reform is enacted. They lack advocates in the legislature from what I’ve seen and few here on this blog truly understand their needs. I do, and I’ll put up with whatever foolishness necessary to keep pushing for them.

AWilliams

April 13th, 2012
9:32 pm

“Why do you mistake my concern for my kids?”

That is a deliberate move on his part. To acknowledge the daily investment you make in your students’ lives is to acknowledge your thoughts, ideas and concerns have value.

To paint you as a union member is also deliberate. He knows GA is right-to-work state, but he also understands the power of branding someone a union flunky.

McCarthy perfected the use indiscriminate branding. Don is using his playbook to avoid intelligent debate.

AWilliams

April 13th, 2012
9:34 pm

@Ron: Keep up the good work.

Ron F.

April 13th, 2012
9:50 pm

A: It’s easy when you get to know the kids. I’ve spent some time studying poverty and how it affects kids, and when you can let go of the middle-class standards by which most of us view the world, you learn ways to reach those kids. It’s honestly not any harder than teaching kids at the other end of the educational spectrum when you take the time to learn how.

“Since our legislature has a history of imposing austerity cuts, I would need some assurance that the full amount will be available for the entire school year. It would be terribly inconvenient to get a voucher reduction in March. ”

I wonder too how long the money train will run in a voucher system when the legislature can’t or won’t fully fund their currently legislated obligations. I doubt they’d put more money on the table for long.

Don H

April 13th, 2012
9:58 pm

@AWilliams: Public and private schools accepting tuition vouchers would be wise to publish their test scores, along with evaluations of their teachers. Virtually all already do the former. The need to attract parents would make both ESSENTIAL in a free market voucher system—though schools would be free to decide not to.

At their own risk, of course.

As for home-schooled kids, most of that demographic would likely dissolve once parents have REAL education choices. The public would certainly see less rationale for funding them. But of course, you’re only suggesting it to create a potential obstacle to reform, right?

Again, if you’re unhappy with expanded free market choices under such a system … you can continue to utilize your local public school. Competition will likely render EVEN IT better at what it does.