Somewhere in research done for a college course, I found an interesting article that traced the reason for testing students. It was a means of evaluating the efficacy of the teacher. An ancient Greek father wanted accountability of his son’s education. So the man commanded that his son’s tutor create a test that would demonstrate how well the child had learned.
Fast forward to evaluation of Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) teachers in 2010. The perennial criticism is that LAUSD teachers deliver sub-quality instruction. Students aren’t learning, especially those in ethnic enclaves. The drop-out rate is high, further dampening productivity and employment opportunities for those populations.
There is no parity when it comes to delivery of education. Los Angeles schools have plummeted from the top ten percent in the nation to the very bottom of the scale. Substandard instruction and poorly trained teachers is constantly cited as the reason for this but until now there’s been no measurement of teachers to support the allegation.
Teachers complain that equipment and supplies are insufficient. They then cite class sizes of 40 students or more as another impediment to delivering quality education. Furthermore, they say growing administrative responsibilities detract from teaching time.
They don’t complain of their own education strengths but do cite teaching assignments outside of their specialties as problematic. This could be an explanation for the lack of educational strengths in LAUSD students. Until now, there’s been no evaluative tool. However, a series of teacher assessments have been conducted that scrutinize and rate teacher performance. In its duty to keep the public aware of critical issues that affect the public, the Los Angeles Times proposes to publish the assessments of the 60,000 LAUSD teachers so that there is not only transparency in regard to performance but also accountability. I would say this is one of the healthiest moves we’ve had in regard to the instruction of our youth since that early Greek tutor.
I want them to be evaluated and graded on how well they are actually teaching our youth and making them responsible, reliable members of our society and workforce. Too often I find young people who feel they are supposed to have entitlement; they don’t feel they need to earn rights because they have been given anything and everything they want. No one has explained the concept of merit to them.
This is troubling. Too well, I remember the bank teller who couldn’t make change. After her third stumbling attempt at it, I finally interceded and counted out the change for her. The situation was made even more painful because I am a woman of color. Had I walked out of the bank with the wrong amount of money in my purse (and ultimately reached my appointment on time), officials would have faulted me for the shortage; the teller wouldn’t have been questioned.
I listen to reasoning of some young people with bachelor’s degrees from fine universities. They talk with me or with their cluster of friends; the flaws in their reasoning are obvious. It makes me wince at the thought that these are the people on whose shoulders my welfare will eventually rest. They’ll have governance over documents that determine what I may do, where I may go, and so on. It’s their prudence that guides more than just their daily affairs but all age and race groups with which their work and decision making abilities reach. Yet they prove time and again that they are not prepared. I want their instructors to be evaluated so that they will know where they are failing. We need some clues about where the modifications should be made.
The focus of teaching has shifted from how well the educator is performing their job. Teaching has become a function of preparing students to take admission tests, not learning.
Far too many of our children of color are denied access to the career opportunities they desire. The first reason is an assumption that their education was paltry. The next assumption is that because of their color, the quality of whatever they do is substandard. Doubling that assumption is actualizing the lack of skill where the youth truly has not been taught but merely passed through the system. A public teacher’s report card could provide assurance that there is quality in the knowledge and ability of their work candidate.
American Federation of Teachers claims that report, especially in a newspaper, is a violation of privacy. President Randi Weingarten (who is also a lawyer) threatens that if the information is published, the organization will sue. There are other arguments in support of bringing action but in my view it’s all a smoke screen and fear of showing why the teachers’ performance is or is not up to par. Without published information about who is not doing their job, again, we have no standing to comprehend why Johnny can’t read nor get a job.
These statistics need to be published so that we have better fiscal data and accountability. It will provide not only the school district but also communities with some focus areas of how to best provide the right type of support for bringing out the best in our workforce. Suffice it to say our city needs to have this type of disclosure so that we can find where the weakest link in the system is and then fix it.