From Part Two, Great Educators Enable Great Students
New York’s schools have many high quality teachers and school leaders. We must find ways to leverage their skills to improve the work of the entire educator workforce. To retain excellent teachers, we must ensure that each school is led by a highly effective principal with the skills to support teachers’ development and create a culture of collaboration and high expectations.Career ladders that recognize effective teachers should be developed, providing educators with opportunities to grow over the course of their careers.
Unfortunately, coherence, collaboration and professional leadership do not systematically characterize American educator preparation programs today - particularly given the fragmented nature of the larger system and stakeholders involved.
A recent (Jan. 22) tweet by @BetsyS48 said:
Can't find any funding for teacher centers in #nystatebudget2013 Can anyone else?
The Teachers' Center, at least in my area, has historically been the place where teachers gathered after hours, on the weekends and over the summer for collaborative learning and projects. It provided new teachers with awareness of curriculum and familiarized them with the materials available. It familiarized all with recent strategies in instruction and management. It gave chances for teachers with vast and varied experiences, skills and talents to share. Invariably, almost everyone who attended a Teachers' Center offering walked away with new strategies, new ideas, new professional contacts. Sure, it could be a hassle spending a Saturday or a nice summer day "in school", but I was never sorry about my time spent. Many critics of public education, teachers, and their unions have no idea about the extra time teachers do spend and are willing to spend on the job, but "off the clock".
Lately it seems our policy makers feel it's more important to take that time and those resources away-structuring teacher "collaboration" around how to subject themselves and students to incredibly time consuming data gathering assessments and schedules. State tests, local tests, benchmark periods at various points in the school year, "value added" measures and teachers along with their students as numbers instead of people is the paradigm being forced upon public schools by those who live outside that world and imagine themselves above it. They don't collaborate, and have demonstrated through policies and threats that working with those who know what teaching in the real world with real-world students is like is not on the agenda.
How are educators in NY to collaborate and build on connections- increase the coherence of their curriculum and instruction if the Governor's policy is to undermine them first? Should he be allowed to hobble schools and the ability for educators to collaborate, and then squander funds to create a report criticizing educators for not being as collaborative as they should be.
Who knows better how to utilize their scant resources and time to collaborate, invent, create and put into practice strategies and materials to address the ever-changing and developmentally inappropriate demands of policymakers and their State Ed enforcers/accountants?
It makes no sense to take trust from dedicated career educators and place it instead with a wealthy, disconnected political opportunist who knows essentially nothing about real-world needs, sound practice and realistic goals in economically struggling schools.
Print up, package and try to sell that fancy report that does little more than illustrate the damage policymakers have done.