William Crandell: Proposed teacher laws disturbingPublished 8:53am Thursday, May 30, 2013
By William Crandell, The Democratic Voice
Last Wednesday the Michigan State House Education Committee passed out a bill that would make performance the key factor in determining pay for teachers. If signed into law teacher evaluations will become the primary factor in determining an educator’s compensation. That may sound good on the surface, but there are hidden issues involved and in reality this is just another attack upon teachers to demonize them and drive down their wages, take away their benefits and weaken public education.
Under the current state law performance is already a significant factor in determining teacher pay, and there is really no evidence that needs to be changed. This new law will make it the only determining factor and by changing the language districts will no longer have to recognize the accomplishments of an educator or the extra training they seek out or the advanced degrees that some are required to complete. But more importantly, it will rule out the years of dedication and experience a teacher puts into the job. As with any other job, all of the evidence shows that teachers gain in skill level as they gain in experience. If this law is passed that experience will mean nothing.
One of the more disturbing aspects of this law is that standardized testing will be used to determine a teacher’s effectiveness and that will determine their compensation. Standardized testing attempts to fit everyone into the same mold and doesn’t take into account any of the outside influences that may affect an individual child’s ability to learn. Basically children are judged on how well they perform on multiple choice questions that do not take into account the needs of our children and the differences in how each of them learn. Standardized testing has already been proven to be ineffective and now not only will many children be denied and effective education but teachers will be held accountable for the failures of politicians who don’t understand education and ignore the facts.
The teachers of this state work hard to provide the best education they can for our children and many of them are doing so with insufficient resources. One in 10 school districts are now struggling and operating in a deficit. Funding for public education continues to get reduced every year because of the cuts in Lansing and teachers are expected to do a lot more with less. Every teacher I know purchases supplies for their classroom out of their own pocket and now the GOP is going after that, too. They call it reform but it looks more like petty revenge and a lack of insight into the needs of how to educate our children. We need to rebuild and cultivate education in our state and in order for that to happen we have to support our teachers. I hope everyone remembers these moments in the next election, I know I will.
William Crandell is a community activist and active member of the Michigan Education Association and the Michigan Democratic Party. He is also a member of the South County Democratic Club where he has served as their communications director and as the chairperson of the SCDC Blue Tiger Community Action Committee.
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