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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. (more…)

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The wisdom of youth (the voice of experience)

spelingtestGuadalupe Sandoval, a junior at Serra High School in San Diego, CA has had a lot of time to think about teachers and the impact they have on her and other students. Her parents have chosen to send her to a school outside of her neighborhood based on teacher quality (or lack there of). Her hour and a half bus commute each day has inspired a wonderful essay on teacher pay and performance:

Since I am in 11th grade, I have had a lot of good teachers and bad teachers. In my school, students talk about teachers and who is a good teacher and who is not a good teacher. Believe me, teaching for a long time does not mean that a teacher is good. It just means the teacher has been a teacher for a long time. The same names come up for bad teachers and good teachers every year no matter which students are talking about them.

When the school district had to lay off teachers it didn’t matter if a teacher was not a good teacher. It only mattered if the teacher had been a teacher for a long time. That teacher was not going to lose his or her job. Thinking about that made me decide that merit pay is a good idea. In other jobs, more pay and promotions go to the workers that do the best job. If a worker does not do a good job then it’s, “You’re fired.” I have never seen a teacher fired. Students are just stuck with a terrible teacher.

Guadalupe was chosen as a finalist in a high school essay contest being held by The Voice of San Diego.

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