Thursday, February 24, 2011

A System of Change is necessary, Let’s do it now

What does it mean to be a teacher in 2011? The truth to this question is perhaps part of the reason our legislators are fighting so hard to re-design education.

In 2011, our students have become a cross breed of apathetic and mediocre. The fault of this is not simply the teachers; it is my humble opinion a fault of our individualistic nature. Parents are too busy to help out at home, and the social structure surrounding our youth is so devolved that for the most part, teamwork is removed in favor of a "Me" first mindset. When it comes to growing up, the teachers is placed in the role of responsibility to help foster growth for a child, and at this point, quite often a parent removes themselves from the process. Many parents believe they are doing the child a favor, by allowing a child to gain independence, when in fact the child needs the strength and guidance of a parent even more.

The role of the teacher should be to develop a child that is within their classroom to the best of the Childs ability. This concept is great, yet development takes a team, and as stated prior a pillar of this team has been misguided in its approach for development. Children often lean toward their parents for first support, and when/if that is not there, then their friends are next.
The problem with this process, is that it gets even more clouded as to the direct responsibility of a child, when we learn that a teacher is not normally in a child's top 5 of people to come to for help. Is this the fault of teachers, no, this is not their role. The older a child gets, the more the role of teacher becomes educator, and less supporter. Simply put, by the time a child is out of Elementary school, the function of a teacher changes extensively.

The role of an educator in elementary school is to facilitate the change and future of a child. Perhaps this is the environment that a teacher is most needed to be hands on. From learning how to adapt to change, read a book, workout math problems, understand logic and quite simply to learn responsibility is in the hands of elementary school teachers. In 2011, an elementary teacher is forced to do everything that was designed throughout introductory education, and add to it, test taking skills, competition management, technology abilities and at times hygiene. Not too bad if you have the time do all of this.

If a person is to believe elementary teachers have it easy, the middle and high school situations just get worse. The goal of education used to give people the knowledge they needed for their chosen career field. As children in our modern days advance, the aspect of education needs to be ahead of them. It is my opinion that the field of education needs to consider that middle school is a place to teach students to advance, and not just to hold hands and allow them to move on. Middle school was setup to help with emotional needs, while development of the teenage body occurred, while still learning. Today, it needs to redevelop into an institution that focuses on fostering learning as a priority. High school is another facility that is placating to the student, and not allowing for teachers to do their job.

What does all of this mean? Simply that in order to be a teacher today, there needs to be a redevelopment of education. To be a teacher in 2011, it really means to be a person bent to the will of an environment that is closed off to the advancement of our students, yet it loudly says that this is what it wants. The institution of education is designed to facilitate mediocrity, rather than be brave and aim to be the best it can be. Rather than pay for the service of an educator, the system in place offers minimal reward and expects more. As you read this, perhaps you say, wow another teacher whining.

This is not the case. In 2011, it is my desire to finally be the teacher I always wanted to be. I would like to be a teacher who has students that desire to read the material I give to them. I would like to have parents that help out by enforcing the advancement of their child. I would like to offer to my students the ability to reach all my notes online prior to entering my classroom, and then for them to be able to access their tablet to enhance their learning. I would like to be able to teach my students how to develop research papers, not just have to teach them from scratch….and above all, I want to do all of this despite how the legislators are treating me. To be a teacher in 2011, I feel it is important to know that technology is far beyond what we offer in the classroom and we need to adapt this to our skill set. For teaching in 2011, we currently test test test our students. What happened to learning? We need to change education and how we advance students. We also need to create a system that involves the community. Enough of this individual model which says that no Child Can be left Behind. There is nothing wrong with this statement, yet in 2011, we need to develop a community of education or this failed experiment will continue. Race to the Top..of what? In 2011 rather than pay teachers based on a test score, or fire teachers for the same reason, create a system which allows for the picking up of our youth, and developing them so that we are competitive in the future. We need a global model of education, and we need it now. If we wait till 2012 or further, we continue to leave everyone behind.

Education has a great opportunity for change now, let's make it happen. A teacher in 2011 needs to be developed as a portion of the system, not the sole person responsible for fixing a problem which began years before they ever met the child. I am ready to find a way to make this change…are you?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Discussion of SB 736

The Following comments are a correlation from reading the FEA Frontline Report, The Tampa Tribune and The Orlando Sentinel
SB 736 Has been drafted as a teacher quality bill, yet if you read the bill closely, it is really a loosely disguised bill of unfunded mandates.

If the Legislature truly wants to reign in education and get a chance to start again, then perhaps it does need to speak directly with people who are in the classroom every day.
At the meeting, one of the Senators (Nancy Detert) shared with the committee that it is her opinion "
districts haven't removed bad teachers, even though they could have done so under current pay systems. "We had a process. You didn't have the courage to use it. With more than 90 percent of teachers earning good evaluations, yet many students still struggling on FCAT, something is amiss, she said. "We've started to forget what business we're in. We're not in the employment business. We're in the business of moving kids from point A to point B," (Detert)

Comments to the Senator:
1 – The concept of bad teachers, versus students who do not want to learn is extreme. Perhaps you may want to understand that students need to want to learn, in order for a teacher to teach. I would like you to come and spend a week teaching in my classroom, give the information and a test, grade it, then go back to the Senate and make your comments. I have a feeling that your viewpoint will change.

2 – A good teacher does not mean a student passes the FCAT. Darvin Booth commented that we should seek out all the reasons, not just a teacher, as to why a student fails. I promise you, that socio-economic, parental involvement, and student buy in all matter when seeking success. If none of the above happen, there is little you can do. Much like a business, if employees won't work, you fire them, yet we can't fire students, so we keep trying.

3 – I believe you and others in Tallahassee mistake education for what it is not. It is in fact a business, yet it is not following the corporate model. You employee many people, and this is important, since your employees are working to develop our future. These developers are given the task at hand, yet they cannot throw out the bad/bruised apples, they have to try their best to mold them back to being a workable, saleable item when they leave high school. You openly state that the business of moving kids from A-B is the point of this legislature and ultimately this bill. This is not an educated comment, if I may be so blunt. Our Job is to get kids from where they began, toward a working person who can survive in the world when they leave school. In this matter, we are developing people, not widgets. It is important to note that, since every person is different, and wants a different outcome. Many teachers try their best, yet we need the help of students, administrators, parents and the legislature to develop our youth, not contention.

To the committee that moved the bill SB 736 forward, and to the rest of the Florida Senate: There are many aspects within this bill that are not developed for the longevity of education.
Some of you have been teachers in the past, yet are not in the classroom anymore. Contact local teachers who have a vested interest in the success of our State, and consider listening to what they have to say.
You have a bill in front of you, yet you are not offering a funding mechanism in order to facilitate the growth of teachers. Your merit play concept is a play on words, and you added Race to the Top this year in order to facilitate those concepts. You have not talked of how to fund merit pay, and since prior merit programs have failed, create a system that cannot fail this time, or don't create one at all.

Within this bill, you give the Counties a chance to create their own mechanism for testing, and then later on go on to say it needs to be State approved. Two years ago you set out to create end of year exams, if this process is to be equitable, then end of course exams need to be consistent. Education deserves to be the largest investment you make at this time, since it is our future you are investing in. Rather than shy away from dollars for the schools, enhance budgets and adequately fund the schools. Then further develop your testing method, and create a system that teachers can meet.
The FCAT is a problem since the measure changes every year. The Legislators keep making education more difficult since they, they do not understand the principle of the profession. Teachers are not in the job of lawyers, accountants etc, they are simply teachers who enhance a child's base knowledge. Could they do a better job, some can. Could they do more with less, I don't think so.

To all the Legislatures, and specifically the Senators that should read this, this is your chance to make a proper bill, and fund it. Rather than simply say that bad teachers need to be gone, create a system which allows for the great teachers to shine and for the bad teachers to receive the necessary training to develop. If they do not…create a mechanism to force them out. I remind you all, there is no tenure in Florida, so stop using that as a carrot for the public.

Finally, this is the Senate of 2011 to make a true mark toward the future of our State. Ignore what our Governor is offering, it is a failure. Be the future, and put your names on an amended bill that the field of education will be proud to work under. I am open to answering questions, and offer my classroom to any of you, at any time.

Thank you

Senate committee substitute bill at: http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2011/...BillText/c1/PDF

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Test Scores don’t make a State – Community Does

In the State of Florida, and throughout the United States, the NCLB law forced State testing to commence. Through a given school year, students may take as many as 10 tests just to be counted as progressing. In Florida, NCLB has become a drastic failure, yet some might have you believe the scores say otherwise. A State Written test to grow the States reputation is easy to design and grade, yet these are not the scores we need to follow

In Florida, FCAT scores have shown a rise…go Florida, yet…Scores have remained very stagnant in the tests that count.
The scores that matter are SAT scores, since this is a nationwide test, ACT (Nationwide) and College Entrance exams. All of these have the remained the same or gone lower. The actual State comparison chart is disgusting. According to this chart, Florida ranks 44th in the Country is SAT results:
http://blog.bestandworststates.com/2009/08/25/state-sat-scores-2009.aspx


Perhaps we can compare on the National Standard of AP testing where we end up having an average pass rate of 41% across AP exams. Again embarrassing – especially when parents who are guiding these AP students toward college…are actually not participating at all. http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20101208/article/12081052

Anyone can work the FCAT to show growth, and this has been done. Writing is not better, nor is English or Math, we just say it is with manipulated data.
I am a public school teacher and the rhetoric remains, pass the FCAT kids and all will be good.
We need to change the whole face of education, and ironically, the measure we need is money to afford the proper technology, training, and more for the students and the teachers.
We also need parents to help enforce education in the State to make it part of the culture. Governor Rick Scott can take away or give (I know the legislature actually does this) to education; yet until we make education a piece of our culture, we will remain bottom of the barrel. And before people run around excited that Ed-Week says Florida is ranked 5th in education, we are not. Florida increased FCAT scores so much we moved into 5th through test differential. We raised the lowest performing students just that much.

To make a difference we need to become the difference, and when we do people who are refusing to work now will start, because the community will make it happen. Education is the future, let's make it work people (especially Politian's) or as a State we will remain in the hands of a Mouse.



Monday, February 7, 2011

With great Power comes – More Power?

Article in Response to Governor Scott's Financial plans
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/education/os-scott-budget-education-20110207,0,1070566.story

Governor Scott has been the responsibility to run our State as professionally as he can, yet at this time he seems more concerned with running our State into the ground.
If we take a close look at the comments that have been made on this day, by the governor himself, he seems to be dismantling government in the area's that Government has a say, and is creating a windfall of money for the Health Care industry.

Perhaps, when running for governor, Scott, purposely left out his plan of profiteering while in the Governor's seat, yet if that is his ultimate goal, he needs a quick lesson in political ethics.
Scott has a large learning curve into his foray of politics, and it the role of the Republican arm of our State Government to keep him in control. What was released today is an embarrassment.

Scott's mother openly shared that he went to school after living through the welfare system, and now, rather than help those in need, he is purposely destroying education. Education is one of the areas that as a State and Country, we need to invest more money, yet in Scott's mind we can rip apart the system and ignore our youth. We can then further remove professionals from the profession and yet our State can still foster growth. Embarrassing!

After Scott has taken care of education, he then feels it is within his control to rip apart social services. In some area's it may be ok to create a system of rules for which Social Services are rendered, yet we sorely need to offer these services to people within our State.
If we are to even consider this budget in any aspect, then our Governor should consider the long term ramifications of his State Destruction carefully. I do not believe there has been a governor removed for abusing their power, yet this has to be a gross misrepresentation of our State Government.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Teachers receive even less when Governor Scott gets on the Ball.

This commentary is in Response to Governor Scott's comments in regards to educators paying 5% of their pay into their pension.
Article Found here: http://tinyurl.com/4qrn6zx

Teachers are not private sector employees. We work for a mediocre wage at best, and in return we have a moderate retirement system. Asking teachers to lose 5% of their pay without openly stating that wages will increase year over year (State guaranteed Step system) I feel we are going to see more disgruntled educators in the State. 

Education does not see its profit in $ signs. Out investment arrives years after our students leave. Politicians today may want to balance budgets in this tough time, yet what we do today will have a lasting effect on our population. Taking 5% may be an immediate fix, yet what is the possible result in 20 years. Education is a noble profession, as are police, fire fighters etc. It is time the politicians stepped up to work with the profession, rather than try to re-design a model seeking some other type of financial return.

These comments were also shared with Leslie postal of the Orlando Sentinel