Education group: Let the feds take back Georgia’s Race to the Top millions

A recently formed group called GREATER — Georgia Researchers, Educators, and Advocates for Teacher Evaluation Reform — sent a letter to Gov. Nathan Deal, State Superintendent John Barge, and other educational leaders about concerns over teacher evaluations. But the letter writers have yet to get a reply.

Here is a recent statement from the group, which now counts nearly 50 Georgia educators among its supporters, including many university professors:

Recently the U.S .Department of Education placed Georgia at “high risk” of losing $33 million dollars in Race to the Top (RT3) funds because, in fear of legal issues, Georgia removed the student input portion of their new teacher evaluation.

Well, here’s a radical suggestion: Let the federal government have it all!

As a key component of receiving the federal Race to the Top grant, the state of Georgia has crafted a new system for evaluating teachers and principals called Teacher/Leader Keys. The system is to be implemented this fall. GREATER, a consortium of nearly 50 educational researchers at 10 universities and colleges across Georgia, has expressed serious concern about the roll-out of this system to Governor Nathan Deal, the State Board of Education, and several superintendents. The student input portion of the proposed evaluation system is not the only problem with this proposed program.

The flaws in the construction and planned implementation of Teacher/Leader Keys are such that if Georgia continues in its rush to use this system, the final result will likely be negative educational, social, and emotional outcomes for students, teachers, and leaders alike.

As it has been crafted, Teacher/Leader Keys is based on unproven evaluation models that carry foreseeable harmful consequences. GREATER (Georgia Researchers, Educators, and Advocates for Teacher Evaluation Reform), has four main concerns with the new evaluation program: (1) the validity of it, (2) the feasibility of implementing it, (3) the negative unintended consequences to Georgia’s children to come from it, and (4) the timing to implement it.

Validity – Educational research clearly shows us that teacher evaluation using value-added student growth models will result in inaccurate assessments of our teachers. Further, decisions based on these inaccuracies may cause an even more demoralized profession, decreased learning, and harm to the children in our care.

Feasibility – At a time when drastic cuts are happening in school systems across the state, little RT3 money is going to our students or their classrooms. Instead, money has been devoted to supporting models like Keys. In its ill-designed attempt to evaluate teachers/leaders, Keys has only created another layer of bureaucracy at a time when teachers are working harder than ever to reach larger numbers of students with fewer resources. Further, money to sustain the Keys program does not exist. What happens when the federal money runs out?

Unintended Consequences – Georgia is already one of many states marred by allegations of cheating on standardized tests. Are we now assuming that linking standardized test scores to teacher and leader evaluations will make things better? If so, how? Research clearly shows that an overemphasis on test scores will not result in increased learning, increased well-being, or greater success. Georgia’s students are more than the sum of their test scores and, our emphasis on high-stakes testing has largely resulted in the demoralization of teachers, students, and school leaders across the state.

Timing – Georgia is not ready to implement Teacher/Leader Keys. They have only given themselves five months to evaluate the success of the program (if any) before implementing across the state this fall. This is an evaluation system that will have a tremendous influence on the livelihoods of teachers/leaders and the educational outcomes of students. The Georgia Department of Education should take additional time to analyze data and come up with valid and reliable outcomes before committing our students and teachers/leaders to any evaluation system.

Overall, there are just too many problems with the many unsustainable promises, such as Keys, that GA has made to receive RT3 funding. Educational research underlies GREATER’s primary recommendation that the state returns the federal money altogether and chooses to “opt out” of Race to the Top, as have Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Oregon, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming. However, if the state will not withdraw, we secondarily recommend that the state: (1) further pilot and evaluate the new system before large-scale implementation and (2) drastically reduce (or eliminate) the use of student standardized test scores as a measure of teacher or leader effectiveness.

If following GREATER’s recommendations means that Georgia will lose RT3 money, then perhaps the loss is worth it to our children. In returning this money and taking time to craft a better evaluation system, we will avoid a detrimental and poorly planned attempt at educational reform that will push education in our state yet further behind.

In a “race to the top,” we cannot afford to lose sight of what matters the most—the academic, social, and emotional growth of Georgia’s children. Our students, teachers, and communities deserve a GREATER education. They deserve thoughtful, reliable, valid reforms that will continually improve teaching and learning for all students. 

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

91 comments Add your comment


July 13th, 2012
1:08 pm

This groups is exactly right. Is anyone listening? I hope so.

Entitlement Society

July 13th, 2012
1:13 pm

The program is called a “RACE to the Top,” so obviously, you snooze, you lose (the funding). Let’s just hope this GREATER group can come up with something that offsets the $33 million being turned down. I understand where they’re coming from, but fear that any plan to come out of GREATER will take too long and require too much discussion at the further expense of the children.


July 13th, 2012
1:14 pm

“high risk” of losing $33 million dollars in Race to the Top (RT3) funds,Georgia removed the student input portion of their new teacher evaluation.”

Classic Georgia Leadership move!

Ignorance is an extolled Virtue in Georgia


July 13th, 2012
1:24 pm

Too many cronies and friends with made up positions getting this money. No way they will let it go.

Hillbilly D

July 13th, 2012
1:25 pm

Once you’ve sold your soul, you don’t get it back.

Proud Teacher

July 13th, 2012
1:28 pm

I still smell NCLB stink in education. Sadly, Race to the Top has the same odor. We need to work on our fundamentals first. Our kids need to learn to read and do logical math. Without those two skills, the rest is not going to improve.

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

July 13th, 2012
1:29 pm

I think as the truth of what is really being implemented in the name of Common Core seeps out parents, taxpayers, and teachers will be horrified. There is so much coming into place under binding side documents or initiatives.

Since these keep saying it’s not the product, the content, but the process, changing the values, beliefs, and attitudes of the students that is the real target of the Common Core, officials really should listen.

One of those documents this week explained that there was no actual research backing up the theory of learning being used for Common Core. That the DoEd and the National Science Foundation though were rejecting the learning theories backed up by research because they were “too narrowly focused on individual thinking and learning.”

So it’s not just teachers being asked to be guinea pigs.

Given what makes an economy function and a civilization endure, we are in fact pushing the envelope here with a national decision to gut the transmission of knowledge to the next generation.

In a misguided attempt to redesign the American economy around sustainability and Green Growth.


July 13th, 2012
1:29 pm

Amen Hillbilly. Amen

C Jae of EAV

July 13th, 2012
1:47 pm

@Entitlement Society brings up an excellant point. If one accepts the arguement that the current Teacher/Leader Keys program should be scrapped and along with it RT3 funds returned to the Feds, What then becomes the fall-back position?

What’s clear to me is that the RT3 funds are being heavily leveraged by the state for any number of things. So if those funds go away how to we keep things moving along?


July 13th, 2012
1:54 pm

This group is completely correct. I’ve found in my 16 years of teaching in Georgia, too many things are too quickly implemented without proper training, study, and follow up.

Many of us piloted “CLASS Keys”-spent a year training for it. Went through it, and honestly? I don’t believe it gives an HONEST picture of what goes on in a classroom. After participating in that for a year, the NEWEST eval tool is being rolled in-Teacher Keys. No training, as it is a watered down version of CLASS Keys.

Using student achievement is a huge problem. The quality of the CRCT is miserable; there are too many variables-we can’t force parents to help their students to study, attend, or even to participate in EIP programs.

Georgia got greedy and saw dollar signs. Jumped on the bandwagon before really realizing what needed to be done in order to get the money….wrote out a plan that has more weaknesses than strengths, and hoped it could be fixed and implemented on the fly.

Me? I love teaching. Truly. I hate this nonsense, and the misery it causes. Staff development-MEANINGFUL staff development was pushed aside for all the training required by the state for the new evaluation…because, you know, monthly training on how the evaluation system works was more important than monthly training on more effective teaching methods…

14 years to go…I shudder to think of the NEW things that will be forced upon us in that time..

Pride and Joy

July 13th, 2012
2:07 pm

Yet, time and again teachers on this blog complain about lack of funding publich schools. Yet when the funding is for evaluating teachers, suddenly we are so rich we can give 33 million back.
It’s plain as the beard on Abraham Linchol’s face.
Teachers on this blog do not want to be evaluated by anyone by any means for any purpose.
Face it,
If you work for money, you will be evaluated.
If you don’t want to be evaluated, become an UNpaid volunteer.


July 13th, 2012
2:18 pm

We did professor evaluations in the 70’s when I was in college, there were no lawsuits, that is just crazy talk. Students should be able to evaluate their teachers, just as the teachers evaluate the students. In health care, CMS is now collecting feed back from patients on the quality of their care, which will in part determine the reimbursement rate for that hospital. Why should teachers be able to avoid customer feedback? What are they afraid of learning about themselves?


July 13th, 2012
2:26 pm

In DeKalb it appears that the Race to the Top money is mainly going to be used to hire non teaching personnel. Meanwhile, we have up to 39 in the classroom. The money seems to be more of the same old non teaching positions being created rather than making it to the classroom for students. Maybe other counties are using it differently.


July 13th, 2012
2:37 pm

As a veteran educator, I have read the complaints and listened to the arguments on both sides. I don’t understand why we have such a pathetic evaluation system in Georgia. What is the fear, exposure? We need some substance in our evaluation system and it is time for an overhaul. To those that desire to reject the funds, where have you been as our children have failed over and over again. There is a clear connection between teaching and learning – right? If good teaching is happening then students learn. Teachers evaluate principals – so students should be able to evaluate teachers. Students are not dumb, they know who the good teachers are and they know who the bell to bell providers of child care are, that are protected by the district and tenure!

[...] Here in Georgia, we can’t make up our mind about teacher evaluations (Georgia Department of Education Says Evaluation Plan Won’t Work But Will Implement it Anyway? and Education group: Let the feds take back Georgia’s Race to the Top millions) [...]

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

July 13th, 2012
2:52 pm

Pride and Joy-Previous attempts to dramatically change the nature of education in the US have always run aground on the issue of measurements. The desired focus on the child yields poor objective results that make parents and taxpayers upset. So there was a need for new measurements-those got funded in the 2009 Stimulus Act upfront unlike the 90s when the New Standards Project never was funded. Districts like APS that adopted the 90s changes in curriculum and practices either had sorry results or resorted to measures like cheating.

The other area where radical ed reform was thwarted was at the school and especially the classroom level. Teachers closed the door and still taught the math or how to read phonetically or the great stories of American or world history or grammar. Any of these reenforces the ability to think abstractly and that’s not to be permitted. We might not go along with the official explanation if we can play around with different scenarios in our own mind or notice that the plausible information is false.

The teacher eval is to ensure compliance with the Outcomes Based Education model of interaction between the teacher and the students. I am not being sarcastic in the least when I say changing the student is the point of the classroom experience. Class Keys was based on Robert Pianta’s OBE work but the primary teacher eval, the one used in the Gates MET project, is based on Charlotte Danielson’s Framework. In the late 80s she wrote the Implementation Handbook for OBE in the classroom.

So a teacher that feels that this change in classroom orientation is dangerous for the kids’ future or will destroy this great nation must comply or find a new job.

If she is a crapola teacher in terms of knowledge and negative impacts on students lives, she gets to keep her job.

An amazing teacher still wanting to teach students the content they will need to be independent adults gets no credit for their abilities. Compliance with the model is all.

And if this seems totalitarian? Well actually that is where the underlying learning theories and psychology theories come from. Directly if you know where to look.


July 13th, 2012
2:57 pm

@ Solutions. Sure, and at the college level I’ve been evaluated all the way up to the present time. It goes with the territory. But—as when you claimed on another blog that your past teaching experience as a graduate Instructor teaching international students at Georgia Tech (how long ago?) qualified you to comment on the problems teaching international students today at local 2-year colleges–you need to consider that the students involved are very different in the two situations. Here, there’s a significant difference between the ages of students in grades 3-12 who are asked to evaluate their teachers as compared to that of my adult students or your college classmates who evaluate, all aged 18 and up .

Is CMS really collecting feedback from their patients who are 9 to 17 on the quality of their care? Wouldn’t they be asking that of the patients’ parents instead?

bootney farnsworth

July 13th, 2012
3:07 pm

I’ve said it 10,000 times, and will say it again.

on the whole, we have NO OBJECTION to being evaluated. our objections are on who does the evaluations and the criteria they work with.

no educator of any real talent or ethics minds being evaluated in an honest and constructive way by
someone who has the training to know what they’re doing. problem is, evaluations are political hatchet jobs or backrubs, given by people who are political whores.

people like pride/joy seem much more interested in validating a deep set personal opinion than actual evaluations

bootney farnsworth

July 13th, 2012
3:08 pm

in the fitler again?

[...] Education group: Let the feds take back Georgia's Race to the Top millionsAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)A recently formed group called GREATER — Georgia Researchers, Educators, and Advocates for Teacher Evaluation Reform — sent a letter to Gov. Nathan Deal,Opinion: NJ education officials continue work on tenure, charter schoolsThe Star-Ledger – NJ.comVirtually at oddsNews & ObserverPlace of Private Initiatives in Educational Development in Nigeria (2)AllAfrica.comall 22 news articles » [...]

bootney farnsworth

July 13th, 2012
3:15 pm

here, baldly put, is why I have a great reluctance in letting students and parents be part of the eval process.

most kids don’t study hard enough and work hard enough to live up to their potential. they don’t care to hear it. boomer parents don’t care to hear their sociopathic child is less than perfect. instead of hearing an inconvenient truth, they turn on the messenger.

Ole Guy

July 13th, 2012
3:23 pm

Solutions, evals, like political debates have, over time, become less and less performance/objective-based and more and more based on the human foibles of sentiment (to put it as charitably as I can). I am not sure just where it all started, but it seems that, as a (supposedly) advanced civilization, we have become less and less capable of rendering objective judgement. This weakness, of course, exists inside the DC beltway just as it exists within our personal lives.

Just how, precisely, did Georgia “win” these funds…what “magic acts” did Georgia leadership pull…how many “rabbits” were pulled from the hat of false promises and over-stated “achievements”?

We all know about the cheating scandals; the chicanery which probably started at the highest levels. Are we to honestly believe that teachers, the (unfortunately) lowest examples of educational malaise, are, AT ALL responsible for instigating this crap? GET FREQUIN REAL, PEOPLE!

Every school in Georgia probably has an unofficial WHOSE TURN IS IT TO BE TEACHER OF THE DAY/MONTH/YEAR/MILLENIUM OFFICER. It seems that while, on the surface, so many recipients of these accolades must indicate nothing short of “outstanding schools”, the harsh reality PROVES otherwise: piss-poor college performances indicated by the numbers of HOPE scholars (ostensibly A/B students) who 1) must take “advanced high school/remedials”, and/or 2) simply can’t hack it and fail to graduate.

While I see so many “achievements” along the lines of “increased scores on CRCT”, etc, I (and I am quite certain many others) couldn’t give a hoot in hell over these superflous issues which only serve as glaring indications of Georgia’s propensity to celebrate mediocrity at the expense of tough objectives…LIKE PREPING KIDS FOR THE REAL WORLD.

Is it no wonder that SOMEONE, within the neverneverland inside the Beltway, has finally said, “Now wait a damn minute…who’nhell do you, Georgia, think you’re kidding”?

Truth in Moderation

July 13th, 2012
3:34 pm

You reap what you sow…..
Back in the ’90’s when parents rose up in Gwinnett and around the country to throw out OBE (which included teacher control through the assessment feed-back loop), teachers were in total denial of what the exposed DOE documents said. They aligned with the “ed reformers” to stand against the informed parents. Well, now that the plan is being implemented and their paycheck is threatened, THEY are the ones now organizing against this same OBE scheme–new name (Race to the Top). I AM GLAD TO FINALLY SEE IT. Better late than never….I hope!

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

July 13th, 2012
3:42 pm

KUDOS to almost two score of my fellow educators who had the COURAGE to express publicly their opposition to the ill-conceived TES which was adopted by the last GDOE administration.

Historically, courage has been in short supply among GAPubEds. This letter marks a historic departure from the prevailing cowardice which has characterized for too long too many Peach State educators.

The action of these forty leaves me proud.


July 13th, 2012
3:53 pm

Let the feds have the money back. None of it will funnel down to the kids anyway. Money for “cure du jour” programs never does.

Once Again

July 13th, 2012
4:01 pm

Every Federal dollar comes with a string. Get a few million and you can make a rope just big enough to hang yourself with. Get the Fed’s completely out of education. Demand from your representative that the DOE be shut down and all Federal involvement in education be ended once and for all. It has only made the horrible problem of government run education that much worse.


July 13th, 2012
4:02 pm

Thank you GREATER.

mountain man

July 13th, 2012
4:19 pm

If students should get to evaluate their teachers, then I think that UGA Fottball fans should get to evaluate the head coach. That should help make the decision about firing Mark Richt.


July 13th, 2012
4:31 pm

Good post, Maureen. I agree, give it back and let the Feds stay out this for a while.

A Teacher, 2

July 13th, 2012
4:39 pm

For the record and directed at those that do not wish to be confused with the facts, I am evaluated each and every year. The evaluation instrument used by my county is about 20 pages long. I have to provide evidence of student achievement, with or without standardized tests, evidence of instructional effectiveness, and then show documentation of my effectiveness as a productive member of the school community. The entire process takes about 10 hours of my time and my administrator’s time. The instrument is very comprehensive and includes every part of a teacher’s job.

Georgia State Law mandates that all educators be evaluated each year. If your local educational entity is not doing this, or if you feel like the evaluations are not being done with fidelity, please be a part of fixing your own problems within your local educational entity. I am frankly tired of being painted with the same brush as those who can’t or won’t take their jobs seriously.

My system is loved by almost all constituents. We have a high level of trust and collaboration between parents, students, administrators, teachers, school board, and larger community. We send a high percentage of each graduating class to competitive universities, other colleges, technical colleges, and the military. The reason this has happened is that the larger community demanded it about 20 years ago. If someone on any level comes in to upset what we have, they do not last long. It can be done, people!

Making things work in a larger community requires work, not just cynical comments expressed anonymously on a blog. Waiting on any government entity to make it work for you will be a loooooong wait.

Let's See the Charter

July 13th, 2012
4:40 pm

The CRCT was never designed to measure growth. Taking one test at the end of the year is a poor method to measure growth. Principals do not (or cannot) put the necessary time in to do the evaluations properly. I think Georgia should ask itself does the $33 million represent a cost savings; I suspect the changes to the evaluation tool (that was just introduced last year) exceed $33 million when training, roll out, and additional man hours are considered.


July 13th, 2012
4:46 pm

This nonsense came along just in time for me. When I saw the short-lived Class Keys, I retired. It was ridiculous. 32 years. You would think I would how to do this job by now.


July 13th, 2012
5:04 pm

Bravo! Of course, no one seems to be listening…

Yes, the Federal funds are tempting. However, the strings are untenable, the consequences (both positive and negative) are untested and largely unknown, AND the funds are not for things we really need (for instance, more teachers)–they are to be used to implement the conditions of RTTT. Same thing happened with the stimulus money and the same thing happens with E-SPLOSTs–the money doesn’t go were we really, truly need it. RTTT, NCLB, and other efforts are not about improving education for American students. Time and again, we are realizing that the “man behind the curtain” in all of these efforts is the almighty dollar in the form of test-makers, publishers, and technology bigwigs. And, yet, it doesn’t seem to be working…Maybe, just maybe, it is time to stop listening to those who see education as the last, great money-making frontier?

Then again, many will just claim I’m an intractable, idiotic, uncaring “union shill” of an educator. As if.

Hope everyone is enjoying their summer. I’m spending my trying to make GA’s implementation of the Common Core work for small-group ELL and Special Education students and work with the materials I have. How about you?

Once Again

July 13th, 2012
5:21 pm

Brandy – So long as the government maintains the monopoly on education delivery, those who see nothing but dollar signs will always be able to control them – certainly more than your measly little vote will. There is nothing wrong with education being seen as a service the delivery of which generates revenue. The system is that way now. Teachers get paid, principles get paid, etc. But if a free market were in place, the money would at least have to be earned through an open marketplace, competition would drive down prices and increase quality and innovation, success would be rewarded and plenty of viable options would exist for those wanting to provide the service on a charity basis, a non-profit basis, etc.

The only reason the test-makers, the book publishers, and the technology bigwigs as you call them are able to make so much money is that they only have to please/buy a handful of folks at the federal or even state level. They do not have to sell to thousands of individual schools, hundreds of thousands of individual parents, etc. Thanks to the vast control that government has, they only have to convince a handful of unaccountable bureaucrats that their product is best.

Central control = failure. Always has, always will.

People decry the free market (we don’t have one by the way and haven’t really ever), but then they put all their trust into different human beings and expect somehow grand and glorious results.

There is nothing inherently better, more perfect, or more noble about the person who gets a job working for the government. They may call it “public service” but it is still just a job. In most cases the pay is better, the benefits are certainly better, the job security is generally far better, and there is never a tie between “company performance” or service satisfaction” and one’s job.

Why do people say that we need government because people can’t be trusted and then put all their trust into people in government??? Doesn’t it make your brain hurt trying to keep that massive inconsistency functioning in the same space???

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

July 13th, 2012
5:40 pm

Brandy- I actually know what you must feel but actually things are changing to make it easier to accommodate ELL and Special ED students. It is the very capable students and the typical students who are getting shafted as the change in focus shifts to activities accessible to all, group work, and social and emotional learning.

The charming document that I mentioned above even said they were taking the position that the human personality was malleable and could be influenced by what goes on in the classroom. The NEA will be so happy with its Purple America/Project Love sales.

If no one has referred you to the Universal Design for Learning site. That now applies to all students and all classrooms. So that there is no stigma attached to needing an accommodation, the idea is that nothing can occur that is not accessible to all.

My statements can occasionally seem hyperbolic until you read the actual regs or implementing documents. How can we celebrate setting the bar so low AND having our children’s personalities manipulated and monitored?

One of the provisions in SACS new AdvancED Quality Standards calls for the schools to be collecting info on the physical, emotional, and social needs of each student.

That is where continuous improvement is to occur.

Jerry Eads

July 13th, 2012
5:42 pm

I don’t yet get to be a member of this crowd – couldn’t have been had I still be downtown, but even now as a “perfesser” I’m small time, no damage. Answer is: Yep. Someone above asked why are we hiding our teacher evaluation? Answer is simple: we don’t have the people in school management positions consistently sufficiently competent to administer it fairly and accurately. One can have a perfectly usable rating instrument (insufficient data to know whether that’s the case), but while there are superb principals and department heads more than capable of watching and rating teacher performance (actually, what’s most important is student activity), YOU CANNOT ASSESS A TEACHER’S COMPETENCE IN TWO FIFTEEN MINUTE SESSIONS.

I actually quite respect Bill Gates’ efforts to put his bazillions behind improving public education, but his approach is stupendously simplistic. Maybe we need to start there and work forward; I won’t get to help make that decision. What we have now doesn’t work, but like virtually every “reform” it is absolutely certain that even a decent rating tool in the hands of those who don’t know enough to use it will drive off the best teachers and leave those who have no choice but to stay.

‘Tis true that the fed dollars are but a TINY drop in the bucket out of billions. The VAST majority of that funding (I’m pretty sure) pays for nothing more than some folks in the state office to try to push these “reforms” on the districts.

I too worry about whether we on our own can do what we should and must, but having watched for quite a few decades, I haven’t seen a lot of worthy change made by the pittances anted up by the fed to bribe the states into submission. I’d be just fine with John telling the fed to stay in DC, but he’d have a pretty tiny shop when the fed bux disappeared. That’s a hard rub for someone in his spot. I DO have a fair amount of faith that he’ll do the best he can for our kids with the hand he has. That’s a stark contrast to the two who preceded him.


July 13th, 2012
5:54 pm

Gee folks—what do you imagine the chances are that “Georgia Researchers, Educators, and Advocates for Teacher Evaluation Reform” is a front group for … the National Education Association?

Looking at their critique of the teacher evaluation plan, what one sees are the very same hurdles the union confronts ANY reform to teacher evaluation with.

The status quo hands union bosses BIG MONEY in northern states where union membership is absolutely mandatory. Union bosses are never going to meekly accept Education reform without a fight for the big dues dollars at stake. The kids affected by failing schools are their least concern.

Parents deserve choices, but union supporters on this blog don’t want parents to have those choices.


July 13th, 2012
6:02 pm

Customer feed back is important, regardless of the customer’s age, you can start out with a low weighting on the feedback, say 1% of the overall score. I never said I taught at Ga Tech, it was at another college where I earned my Masters degree, and the class was not for international students, it was a regular class that just happened to have maybe 10 international students out of maybe 30 total. In those days, we were getting a lot of Persian students, the Shah still ruled Iran, and the students were mostly of poor quality compared to the East Asian students of today. One kid was from Nigeria, and I thought he was retarded, but he surprised me and did well, despite knowing little English. He learned quickly. In Electrical Engineering, there was a Persian grad student who everybody liked, he went over and above what was required of a grad assistant in the EE labs, made sure everyone knew their stuff. I have always wondered what became of him, cannon fodder in the Iran-Iraq war I suspect, as so many of the ones educated in the west were disposed of, unfortunately.

Ed Johnson

July 13th, 2012
6:12 pm

“Ranking is a farce. Apparent performance is actually attributable mostly to the system that the individual works in, not to the individual himself.

“A simple equation will help to understand the futility of attempts to rank people. Let X be the contribution of some individual, (YX) the effect of the system on his performance. Then suppose that we have some number for his apparent performance, such as eight mistakes during the year, or sales of $8,000,000.

“ Then, X + (YX) = 8.

“We need X. Unfortunately, there are two unknowns and only one equation. Johnny in the sixth grade knows that no one can solve this equation for X. Yet people that use the merit system think that they are solving it for X. They ignore the other term (YX), which is predominant.

“There is another factor to take into account, the Pygmalion effect. Rated high at the start, anyone stays high. Rated low at the start, he stays low.

“Ranking creates competition between people, salesmen, teams, divisions. It demoralizes employees.

“Ranking comes from failure to understand variation from common causes.”

–W. Edwards Deming. The New Economics for Industry, Government, Education (pp. 25-26). Kindle Edition.

high school teacher

July 13th, 2012
6:26 pm

“We did professor evaluations in the 70’s when I was in college, there were no lawsuits, that is just crazy talk. Students should be able to evaluate their teachers, just as the teachers evaluate the students. In health care, CMS is now collecting feed back from patients on the quality of their care, which will in part determine the reimbursement rate for that hospital. Why should teachers be able to avoid customer feedback? What are they afraid of learning about themselves?”

Solutions, the difference between the parties you referenced and students is that students are children and cannot/do not evaluate rationally. Students get upset with teachers if they assign them homework, and therefore would say that Mrs. X is a bad teacher. I am not opposed to using evaluations of students or parents to an extent, but I don’t want my salary dependent on the opinions of some 16-year-old teens who are upset that I actually made them do a research paper. Remember that the “clients” in education are slightly different from those in other areas. Just because these types of evals are conducted in other professions doesn’t make them valid. I have many friends in the medical profession who are concerned about the new rating systems of the hospitals. Quite frankly, I agree with them.


July 13th, 2012
6:28 pm

Maureen, when you give a platform to anti-reform activists like these—don’t you ever consider it further identifies you as being “in the pocket” of union bosses?

Mikey D.

July 13th, 2012
6:34 pm

Stop sniffing the glue and pull off the tin hat… Your conspiracy theories are just plain weak.
We get it… You hate unions. Fine. There are no true unions in Georgia. Get past it.
Thank you GREATER for having the courage and the wherewithall to so eloquently put voice to the concerns of so many of us. 33 million is a drop in the bucket for funding. Anyone who knows anything about educational budgets realizes that this nonsense comes with all sorts of federal strings attached that will end up costing the taxpayers of Georgia FARRRR more than it will ever provide. Best to do what so many other states have already done — Realize that this is an educational bridge to nowhere, cut ties now, and get the heck out while we still can.
Governor Deal, Superintendent Barge… We’re all waiting for your response.


July 13th, 2012
6:47 pm

One of my co-workers was part of the pilot process for this teacher evaluation. It took her about 50 hours to put a folder together to prove that she was teaching in her classroom. These hours either took away time from planning or teaching in the class.


July 13th, 2012
6:51 pm

@MikeyD: Your union boss bonus check is in the mail. Their Lake Lanier weekend cabin, alas, is already spoken for. (Perhaps Maureen?)

Maureen Downey

July 13th, 2012
6:55 pm

@Edu, Having covered schools in a union state, New Jersey, I am surprised at your schtick that Georgia is a strong union state. Spend some time in the northeast and you would see the differences.

Mikey D.

July 13th, 2012
7:03 pm

As I said before, your comebacks are really weak. Thanks for trying, though.


July 13th, 2012
7:05 pm

@Maureen: What amazes me is the pretense that Georgia—despite its grace as a Right to Work state—somehow ISN’T a battleground for the teachers’ unions.

Beyond being a cash-cow for the National Education Association and its leftist agenda (Google “NEA” and “donations” to see where those yearly extra $168 in NEA/GAE dues go) Georgia most certainly is home to a cabal of unionist opponents of education reform.

Not all of which are employed by the AJC.


July 13th, 2012
7:38 pm

Give it back! Lots of us have been speaking against pimping out Georgia’s children and teachers! Most of what Georgia has signed up for in the past 15 years has been a disaster visited on hundreds of thousands of kids. Let’s go for ideas that come from teachers, not corporations and the likes of Bill Gates, Michelle Rhee, Pearson, etc!

high school teacher

July 13th, 2012
7:48 pm

We really need a facebook type of “like” button; catlady, I like your post! :)


July 13th, 2012
7:48 pm

Are you equating “union” with “union” troups of the 1860’s? Why don’t educkretin yourself before you open your mouth?

Do you really expect to get more than $250 000 annual income at any point in your lifetime?