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Teacher Trifecta

CER’s recent monograph, Mandate for Change, pinpoints teacher quality as one in a five-part prescription for what ails public education in America today. Richard Whitmire’s essay lays out a compelling argument for addressing the way teachers are evaluated, cautioning “Effective teachers make a difference and the current system does next to nothing to reward effective teaching.”

Here are three examples of teaching/teachers at work for students:

sweating_the_small_stuff_cover1) The new paternalism

David Whitman spoke last Thursday at a CER event about his book Sweating the Small Stuff: Inner-City Schools and the New Paternalism. Whitman dedicated a section of both his talk and the book to a discussion focused on the aspects of a paternalistic teaching/learning environment. Here are but three examples:

  • Provide teachers with more on-site training and new opportunities to review student progress and discipline problems, and to observe other teachers’ classrooms.
  • Principals, with assistance from teachers, need to create a sense of mission and concern for student character. They should enlist all staff in attaining their goals, including the secretaries and janitors.

Finally, hire principals and teachers who like — and celebrate — their students.

intervention2) Intervention (via ProJo)

“Education Commissioner Peter McWalters has ordered the city schools to begin filling teacher vacancies based on qualifications rather than seniority, an order that could fly in the face of the teachers’ contract.

McWalters, in a no-nonsense letter yesterday to Supt. Tom Brady, said the district hasn’t been moving fast enough to improve student achievement and that it was time to intervene in a much more aggressive fashion.

The order should come as no surprise to the district. Over the last two years the commissioner has issued a series of “corrective action” orders that spelled out what the district needed to do to improve student performance.

“This is intervention,” McWalters said yesterday. “Every state gets to the point when it’s time to stop suggesting. The district can’t come back and tell me they can’t get it done.”

McWalters said that seniority can no longer be the way that teachers are assigned and vacancies are filled. Starting this fall, teachers at six Providence schools, including the new career and technical high school and the new East Side middle school, will be assigned based on whether they have the skills needed to serve students at those particular schools.

McWalters made it clear that contract language will not stand in the way of the changes he expects.” (read MORE)

basketballnet3) Taking one for the team (via Jay P. Greene’s Blog)

Matthew Ladner shares a story from the New York Times about NBA player Shane Battier. Battier is a true team player, Ladner says, a “white space” employee in business-speak. “The term refers to the space between boxes on an organizational chart. A white space employee is someone who does whatever it takes to achieve organizational goals and makes the organization work much better as a whole.”

Ladner ties the story of selfless Battier to teaching this way: “There’s no reward for being a white space player OR a superstar in the current system of teacher compensation-just an old player. Imagine a system of compensation for the NBA in which Larry Bird was still riding the pine on NBA squads and getting paid more money than LeBron, Kobe or Battier. Hall of Fame = National Board Certified, but you no longer want Bird in the game if you want to win.”

Got Mandate?