Everyone is special

All 575 teachers in a California school district are Teachers of the Year, reports the San Luis Obispo Tribune. “We all help children in our own special way,” said Branden Leach, a teachers’ union leader.

Teachers refused to select a single “teacher of the year” to protest Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s plan for merit pay for exemplary teachers. “We decided that choosing one among us as the best is similar to merit pay,” Leach said.

Blogging at Reason’s Out of Control, Lisa Snell says this explains why smart people will reject teaching careers.

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Comments

  1. Mike in Texas says:

    Actually, Lisa Snell never says smart people don’t go into teaching. What she says is:

    why teachers will continue to be the lowest-scoring students on SAT tests

    which was a topic of debate on this forum due to a study releases, and jumped on by the anti-public school/anti-teacher crowd as proving teachers aren’t all that smart. The actual study (for those of us who bothered to read it), said students who say they are going into teaching scored lowerer as a group. It did not look at the scores of actual teachers.

    As for the teachers in the story, I find it hard to believe everyone agreed with it, but good for them anyway; they are making a public statement about how they feel.

  2. Mike in Texas says:

    Wow!! I really need to stop posting before I’ve had my coffee!!

  3. Mike in Texas wrote:

    Actually, Lisa Snell never says smart people don’t go into teaching. What she says is:

    So, along with posting, your pre-coffee, morning ritual consists of splitting hairs.

    The actual study (for those of us who bothered to read it)

    Link?

    As for the teachers in the story, I find it hard to believe everyone agreed with it, but good for them anyway;

    From the news article:

    “It’s everyone,” said Branden Leach, president of the Lucia Mar Unified Teachers Association.

    What makes you think any of the Lucia Mar teachers agreed with this action? After all, it was the president of the local who made the announcement. That’s not exactly a source with a generally high level of credibility and one with a pretty obvious axe to grind.

    And, from the point of view of the president of the local, indeed all union officials, all teachers are equal. They pay the same dues, they get socked with the same assesments.

    In fact, the semi-comatose time-server is actually a superior to the occasional Jaime Escalante from the viewpoint of the union official: no uncomfortable questions about teacher quality result from undistiguished mediocrity.

    but good for them anyway; they are making a public statement about how they feel.

    Just to let you know how something like this is viewed outside the magic bubble you inhabit: it’s an obvious political ploy because the notion that there are no differences between teachers is so obviously idiotic there’s no other reasonable explanation.

  4. I gotta agree. The whole idea behind this is plain asinine. “Everyone’s equal.” Riiiiight.

    Lowest common denominator, man.

  5. Unanimous vote? My guess is that the union must have counted the ballots.

  6. “EVERYBODY has won, and all must have prizes.”

    –The Dodo, Alice in Wonderland

  7. elfcharm says:

    Good afternoon,
    I am not qualified, yet, to give an accurate opinion on the matter, as I have not yet gone to college to become a teacher. (or at all, I am 21, and joined the military, believing that I did not have the life experience needed in order to become an effective teacher.) However, I would only like to say that all professions have members who perform poorly, and members who perform excellently.
    At the moment, I am a russian linguist, and I would like to say that in my field, inate intelligence has less to do with how well you peform, than the amount of effort a person puts into perfecting their skills. Certainly, there is a minimum amount of intelligence required to become proficient in the russian language, however there are other factors, such as adaptability, life experience, and general knowledge that impact the end result much more than inate intelligence.
    I would like to believe that, while there must be a level of intelligence that must be realized before one can become a good teacher, wisdom, adaptability, and life experience determine the impact a person can have in the classroom.
    While none of these things can be tested, (and neither should they be, were it possible), I wonder if this action, and other actions by the union can be described as wise, or stemming from great life experience…or even as adaptable to the realities of the world.
    Now, I grant that I am a masochist (I must be, since I would like to be an 8th grade english teacher…which is the only reason I describe myself as such.) But am I masochistic enough to put my future in the hands of people who refuse to accept that they should get paid for the product of their efforts?

    P.S. If anyone has any advice for me (other than “No! Don’t do it!”) feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]

  8. Sounds like somebody watched The Incredibles but missed the point really, really, badly.

  9. Mike in Texas says:

    Allen wrote:

    So, along with posting, your pre-coffee, morning ritual consists of splitting hairs.

    No, my morning routine consists of misspelling words and not checking my posts for mistakes.

    Link?

    Its in the archives, Allen, possibly from a couple of months ago. I can’t do all your thinking for you 😉

    . . it’s an obvious political ploy

    And the governator is above playing politics?

  10. Mike in Texas wrote:

    Its in the archives, Allen, possibly from a couple of months ago.

    Translation: I’m making it up and hoping I don’t get called on it.

    Consider yourself called.

    I can’t do all your thinking for you 😉

    It’s not all that clear that you do much of your thinking for yourself. That may be a function of uncritically accepting self-serving political boilerplate.

    I believe it also has a damaging effect on your hearing. When all you hear is what you want to hear you lose the ability to hear anything else.

    And the governator is above playing politics?

    He’s a politician, he’s supposed to play politics. It’s where the title comes from. Try to pay attention.

    Or are you suggesting that the president of the local, quite possibly a teacher once, is no better then a mere politician?

  11. Jack Tanner says:

    They were probably all scored equally on their evaluation assessments. How could anyone choose just one?

  12. some insights surface from the SLO Tribune article

    “We decided that choosing one among us as the best is similar to merit pay,” Leach said.

    perhaps some more direct experience is needed in merit pay. It is ok for multiple teachers to receive merit bonuses … in fact when goals are aligned with student progress, that is a wonderful broadbased advance. It just doesn´t work in the collective (apart from School-wide goals)

    In the South County’s Lucia Mar, instructors pick the Teacher of the Year award winner.

    which would be a terrible merit pay system. a 360 review by peers is a vital component but it muat include someone who has oversight and understanding to be effective.

    I also wonder how the voting might have come out differently if the students and parents did the selection (which turns out to be another strong ingredient)

    A frequent statement by winners of the district award, Leach noted, would support O’Connell’s last point. “The winner invariably said ‘I’m not the best.’ ”

    ouch! I´m certain that Leach never thought through the logical implications of that statement when combined with his headline announcement. Not a teacher bashing … just a lack-of-logic bashing

    Here´s hoping that Elfcharm is an inspired, inspiring, effective (and well-rewarded) teacher!

  13. nailsagainsttheboard says:

    In our awards-obsessed, narcissistic society, the mania to congratulate people for doing their job well continues into the teaching profession.
    Here are some other awards we could give:

    Childcare Provider of the Year–Michael Jackson (naturally)
    Professor of the Year–Ward Churchill
    Clueless Politician of the Year–Tie between all Democratic members of the California State Legislature

  14. esunola says:

    Mike is right that Ms. Snell should have said students instead of teachers. But he forgot to include that she could have written that grade inflation at the postsecondary level is most prounounced in colleges of education (from Teachers College Record) and that Education majors bat at the bottom of the order on the GRE as well (from the Chronicle for Higher Education).

    But, hey I’m convinced that they are all the best when I look at the SARC for the largest high school in the district and see that average SAT scores have dropped 18 points over two years while national scores are trending positive, and that only 34.8% of their seniors have taken the courses necessary to be admitted to the UC/CSU system. I bet they scored really well in self-esteem, though.

  15. “However, I would only like to say that all professions have members who perform poorly, and members who perform excellently.”

    “Profession?” No offense, but the next time I hear of a teacher being sued for malpractice, or brought before a disciplinary board to be stripped of their credentials, is when I’ll believe they’re a “profession.”

  16. Mike in Texas says:

    Translation: I’m making it up and hoping I don’t get called on it.

    Consider yourself called

    Puuuuleaz!

    You and I both know I will present plenty of facts, all of which you’ll refuse to read or deny they exist.

    Here is the link you requested, not to the discussion on this site (you can look it up yourself) but related to it.

    http://209.190.217.53/ew/vol-18/26aacte.h18

    Since you won’t actually bother to read it here is a choice tidbit:

    College-bound seniors who say they want to major in education have lower scores than their peers . . .but the SAT scores of prospective teachers who actually seek licenses are nearly equal to those of all college-bound seniors, the study found, and scores for people who meet state licensing requirements exceed those of their peers.

    I’ll make the distinction for you Allen. The scores of the kids who say they are going to be teachers are lower. The scores of the ones who actually become teachers exceed those of their peers.

    You see Allen, there’s a difference between those who say they are going to be teachers, as high school students, and those who actually go on to be teachers.

    Did I use too many big words for you?

  17. Since when did an education blog have so many comments by people drinking the neo-con KoolAid?

    I’m noticing a lot of non-teachers on this blog that really haven’t a clue about what the real story is. You see, if you don’t teach, then don’t act like you really know what education is about. With all due respect, Allen needs to tune the radio to something other than Michael Savage or he’s going continue sounding like an idiot. Seriously brother, until you’ve been in the war, don’t act like you know what fight is really like. I was really getting annoyed at you at first. Then I read more of your posts and you remind of (shudder) Rush Limbaugh.

    So I’m up for retoric, I just wanted to make sure that you are really on the neo-con bandwagon. That way I can honestly say that we teachers do the most honorable job on the planet, and that I will spend occasional minutes during the week making fun of your 1994, conservative junior Senator attitude.

  18. Jaime Escalante was an excellent teacher but today he’d be fired for bringing a butcher knife to class.

  19. Coach Brown, do you speak to your students in the same manner we enjoy here on Joanne’s blog?

  20. Coach Brown,

    Have to agree that you teachers are involved in doing the most honorable job in the world. The problem is that a lot of the teachers I know of are not doing it very honorably. In fact a lot of them are not really doing it at all. All you have to do is look at their results to see what I mean.

  21. SuperSub says:

    Blame not the teachers, for they are the sheep among administrators, union officials, parents, and politicians, who consistently prowl the edge of the herd waiting to tear down any teacher that is brave enough to try to break out of the liberal multicultural mold that is forced upon them.

  22. Mike in Texas says:

    All you have to do is look at their results to see what I mean.

    What results? Some meaningless test designed by some company a thousand miles away that doesn’t correlate with anything other than socio economic status?

  23. michaelt says:

    Isn’t comparing the SAT scores of teachers who seek licenses with the scores of college-bound seniors also an apples/oranges thing?

    After all, teachers seeking a license graduated from college. Quite a few college-bound seniors don’t finish college.

    Wouldn’t the correct comparison be between teachers seeking licenses and all college graduates?

    In addition, the article doesn’t define what a “peer” is for teachers who get a license, although one could guess the comparison group is again college-bound seniors – another apples/oranges thing.

    Finally, I guess I could write about the papers I’ve read from college freshmen, and the papers my wife reads every semester, and bemoan the fact that many of them get out of high school not knowing how to put a sentence together, let alone an essay, and discuss the tendency for the teacher ed students to often be the worst of the lot, and note that that has nothing to do with “meaningless tests,” but that’s only my personal “neo-con” experience, Coach Brown and MiT. Your mileage may vary.

  24. esunola says:

    For Mike in Texas –

    The link you provided also included the following:
    Candidates seeking various types of teaching licenses had very different academic profiles, the study found. SAT scores were much higher for teachers who sought licenses in specific content areas than for those who planned to teach elementary, special, or physical education.

    So this tells us that teachers who sought specific licenses for physics, chemistry, mathematics, etc. did better. I should be suprised by that? It also tells me that I should be more concerned about what is in front of my children in elementary school.

    In the future, please don’t cite a 6 year old draft report as conclusive evidence of anything. Given that they were studying only PRAXIS takers in a short window(which kept out 13 states including Texas and New York) who had taken the SAT sometime during the past 20 years, it would seem that their methodology might be a little suspect. I have not been able to find a final copy of this report anywhere, so I have to wonder if it passed peer review or was one of those situations where they publicized the numbers their audience wanted to hear before submitting it to any real scrutiny and realizing it was junk science.

    And to Coach Brown, save the sanctimony. Just because some of us do not teach does not mean we do not have a clear understanding of any number of education issues, from policy to classroom practice.

    I have great respect for good teachers, and contempt for those misfits who misappropriate the title. The simple fact that the community of teachers does nothing to remove the ineffective and incompetent from its own ranks diminishes the profession and plants doubt in every parent’s mind.

  25. Jeez, go off to a Great Rightwing Conspiracy Pot Luck Dinner and Oppression of the Honest Working Man Forum™ and I’m rendered superfluous.

    esunola wrote:

    In the future, please don’t cite a 6 year old draft report as conclusive evidence of anything.

    You’re not familiar with Mike from Texas’ methods so I’ll clue you in. First he throws out a reference that’s either entirely specious, has either no credibility – he has a fondness for quoting editorials out of state teacher’s union publications as authoritative sources – or suspect credibility, evidence the article for which he provided a link.

    This is usually followed by an uninspired insult and a declaration of victory through superior intellect. Example: Did I use too many big words for you?

    Now, to turn my attention to the NEA’s local franchisee:

    Mike in Texas wrote:

    Since you won’t actually bother to read it here is a choice tidbit:

    Don’t exert yourself, the article isn’t worth it. Esunola already shredded it, your careful editorializing not withstanding.

    You see Allen, there’s a difference between those who say they are going to be teachers, as high school students, and those who actually go on to be teachers.

    The world’s full of distinctions Mike. There’s a difference between clock-watchers who stand in front of a class full of helpless children wasting their time and teachers although I wouldn’t expect you to be able to appreciate that distinction.

    What results? Some meaningless test designed by some company a thousand miles away that doesn’t correlate with anything other than socio economic status?

    There’s that “distance” thing again.

    You don’t want politicians hundreds of miles away passing judgement on you and you don’t want tests designed a thousand miles away that don’t correlate with, blah, blah, blah.

    If the politician or the test designer were closer, would that make a difference? Seems like an unimportant consideration but it does loom unreasonably large in your view. Would a politician fifty miles away be acceptable to you? If the test designer overflew your district, would that do? Just trying to get to the bottom of the “distance” issue.

    Did I use too many big words for you?

    Only if you exhausted your supply.

    Coach Brown wrote:

    Since when did an education blog have so many comments by people drinking the neo-con KoolAid?

    Slurrp!

    Get used to it Coach. The flouride that us neo-cons arranged to put into the water supply is finally taking effect and parents are becoming unreasonably concerned with the literacy of their children and resistant to explanation that it’s their fault. We arranged it that way by beaming microwaves into their brains. That and the flouride in the water, of course.

    I will spend occasional minutes during the week making fun of your 1994, conservative junior Senator attitude.

    Oh yeah, 1994. The year the NEA lost both houses of Congress.

    Knock yourself out, Coach. The only thing I’ll be able to respond with, being a tongue-protruding neo-con is four, little letters: NCLB.

  26. Mike in Texas says:

    Esunola wrote:

    In the future, please don’t cite a 6 year old draft report as conclusive evidence of anything

    Why not? This is the exact studies the “reform” crowd ran around quoting to prove how dumb teachers are. Of course, they didn’t quote the whole article.

    Coach Brown,

    Welcome to the world of education “reform” where all teachers are stupid, lazy and incompetent and people from outside the world of education (Chester Finn, Rod Paige, Jay P. Greene, Jay Mathews, et al) are all brilliant.

    Just a little bit of what you can expect. Look for “working papers” published as bona fide scientific studies that prove how awful teachers are. A working paper is one that hasn’t been subject to peer review (where its inaccuracies would be criticized) and is very often “leaked” to the press. That way when the mistakes are found the authors can claim they were never intended to be published (google Caroline Huxby). You may also see some never before published “indexes” that prove how awful teachers are but don’t google those; you might discover they were invented on the spot by the reform crowd.

    It should go without saying that if you criticize NCLB you are stupid and lazy.

  27. Mike in Texas wrote:

    Why not? This is the exact studies the “reform” crowd ran around quoting to prove how dumb teachers are.

    Yeah, except you’re the “reformer” that introduced this specious study to the discussion. Of course, that’s just one more among a whole bunch of specious studies, suspect studies and editorials you’ve offered up as evidence so I’m not suprised but esunola might not be that familiar with your methods.

    Coach Brown,

    Welcome to the world of education “reform” where all teachers are stupid, lazy and incompetent

    Stop whining. If you aren’t being accorded the slack-jawed adoration that you believe is your due then maybe you haven’t earned it.

    You’re familiar with the concept of “earning” aren’t you? That’s where you provide something of value as determined by the recipient not by you. I know that might be a tough concept for you to understand since you’re operating assumptions are more along the lines of “casting pearls before the swine” but you might want to try.

    Speaking as one of the swine, we’re getting pretty good and tired of paying for results and getting excuses. That means that while you may not care for the present it’s the future you’re really going to hate.

    It should go without saying that if you criticize NCLB you are stupid and lazy.

    On the basis of the quality of that criticism I find no fault with your assessment.

    And just so we don’t wander too far from the article that started this thread, maybe you can render an opinion on what conclusions can be drawn about a profession in which mediocrity is assumed to be the norm as exemplified by the “vote” of the Lucia Mar Unified School District teachers. Or, maybe they’re all above average like the students of Lake Woebegone High School.

  28. Mike in Texas says:

    Allen wrote:

    a profession in which mediocrity is assumed to be the norm as exemplified by the “vote” of the Lucia Mar Unified School District teachers.

    Thank you for helping me to prove my point about the “reformers”. Why do you automatically assume all the teachers of the Lucia Mar Unified School District are mediocre?

    You’re familiar with the concept of “earning” aren’t you?

    Are you? It seems to me you all for given money over to charter schools run by business people with absolutely no experience or training in educating children. How have they “earned” that privilege?

  29. Mike in Texas wrote:

    Thank you for helping me to prove my point about the “reformers”.

    You’re quite welcome. Do you plan do that “proving” some time soon?

    Why do you automatically assume all the teachers of the Lucia Mar Unified School District are mediocre?

    I was deferring to the teachers of the Lucia Mar Unified School District’s estimation of their own value. Check the definitions of the word “mediocre”, teacher.

    It seems to me you all for given money over to charter schools run by business people with absolutely no experience or training in educating children.

    You just can’t get anything right, can you?

    I’m all for giving independent-minded entrepreneurs an opportunity to earn an honest profit by delivering a quality education and meeting with the approval of parents.

    How have they “earned” that privilege?

    Look at the waiting lists of parents trying to get their kids into charter schools. Look at the literacy rate of Texas public school graduates. That’s how they’ve earned the “privilige”.

  30. Mike in Texas says:

    Allen wrote:

    I’m all for giving independent-minded entrepreneurs an opportunity to earn an honest profit by delivering a quality education and meeting with the approval of parents.

    Yes, Edison Schools is so successful it had to have an infusion of illegal money to buy back all of its publicly traded stock; those darn stockholders kept asking too many questions.

    Look at the waiting lists of parents trying to get their kids into charter schools.

    Yes, that’s why the Texas legislature, despite enormous amounts of expensive PR from private companies, has once again rejected charter school iniatives. That’s a Texas legislature loaded down with Republicans, some of whom actually decided to vote for what was best for kids.

    Look at the literacy rate of Texas public school graduates.

    Would that be from the chronically underfunded Texas public schools? The same ones a judge ruled need a massive influx of money to improve?

  31. Mike in Texas wrote:

    Yes, Edison Schools is so successful it had to have an infusion of illegal money to buy back all of its publicly traded stock; those darn stockholders kept asking too many questions.

    Since no support is offered, the only question is whether you’ve made this up out of a whole cloth or whether you’re misrepresenting the facts. I vote for misrepresentation. Got a link to an editorial on a union web site?

    Yes, that’s why the Texas legislature, despite enormous amounts of expensive PR from private companies, has once again rejected charter school iniatives.

    Note to Mike: Texas isn’t the center of the world. Forty other states think charters are a real good idea.

    That’s a Texas legislature loaded down with Republicans, some of whom actually decided to vote for what was best for kids.

    I’m sure of it but there are still areas of the country where the NEA cracks a large enough whip to command obedience, even from Republicans. You can’t expect politicians to vote for what’s good for kids when the NEA is around glaring threateningly. At least not at this session of the Texas legislature. Maybe they’ll find the courage to do what’s right for kids at the next session.

    Would that be from the chronically underfunded Texas public schools?

    The very same. The one that gets 42% of the state budget, along with bags of money from local revenues.

    The same ones a judge ruled need a massive influx of money to improve?

    The very same, again. And, I hope you get it. That’ll be 76% of the state budget and I can’t think of any better way to demonstrate what the teacher’s unions in particular and the public education system in general is about.

    There’s that Greek tragedy aspect of the public education again. The worst thing that could happen to you is that you get what you want.

  32. Mike in Texas says:

    Allen wrote:

    Note to Mike: Texas isn’t the center of the world. Forty other states think charters are a real good idea.

    I’m writing about the things I have personal knowledge of and expertise on. You should try it sometime.

    That’ll be 76% of the state budget and I can’t think of any better way to demonstrate what the teacher’s unions in particular and the public education system in general is about.

    But remember Allen, that’s b/c the Republicans want 100% of all students passing 100% of all tests. I noticed in a previous discussion about this very subject you failed to answer my question so I’ll ask it again:

    Given that no enterprise can reach a 100% given only 55% of the materials needed, should Texas spend the extra 5K per student to fund that goal, or lower its standards?

    I’ll answer for you. Texas is the home of the “Texas Miracle”, the basis for NCLB. The Republicans can’t afford politically to admit they were wrong about the whole thing but that’s OK b/c their real goal is not to improve public education but to destroy it. What better way than to set an impossible goal and then underfund it to assure there’s no way schools can reach it. Then, their rich friends, who just happen to be forming management companies even as we speak, can rush it and “save” the schools (by then they will admit the goals were unrealistic) and make a nice tidy profit to boot.

  33. Mike in Texas wrote:

    I’m writing about the things I have personal knowledge of and expertise on.

    Like that ground swell of opposition to the NCLB that you seem to be having a bit of trouble finding any evidence of?

    You should try it sometime.

    Once again, I’ve reduced you to hurling uninspired insults!

    Not sure I should take any pride in that though. Reducing you to hurling insults is just too easily accomplished to be worthy of much pride.

    I noticed in a previous discussion about this very subject you failed to answer my question so I’ll ask it again:

    Actually, I did answer but since you’ve got a well-developed case of convenient amnesia, I’ll reiterate.

    Texas, like the rest of the country, spends too much money on K-12 education. Thus, to reach 100% compliance with education standards Texas has to cut education funding. Increases in spending will cause a reduction in the quality of education although it will certianly result in an improvement in the life-style of Texas education employees.

    Not what you were looking for I’m sure but it is what you’re going to have to live with.

    I’ll answer for you.

    Awfully kind of you but your answers tend to be utterly self-serving.

    And speaking (writing) of questions carefully ignored, I’m still waiting for something approximating evidence of that grass-roots revolt against the NCLB you oh-so-confidently mentioned some time ago.

    It does exist somewhere outside your imagination, right?

  34. Mike in Texas says:

    Texas, like the rest of the country, spends too much money on K-12 education . . .Thus, to reach 100% compliance with education standards Texas has to cut education funding.

    Thanks for the laugh, Allen. Once again you reject reality and substitute your own.

  35. Mike in Texas wrote:

    Thanks for the laugh, Allen.

    Enjoy yourself. Considering you haven’t had much to laugh about the last few years and aren’t looking forward to a future of all that much jovial guffawing you might as well pretend you’re enjoying yourself now.

    Once again you reject reality and substitute your own.

    Now, that would be the reality in which a trebling of education funding has resulted in a gradual decline in performance but a further doubling of education funding will result in reversal of the trend, right?

    Go it.

    By the way, I caught you in a blatant lie:

    Yes, that’s why the Texas legislature, despite enormous amounts of expensive PR from private companies, has once again rejected charter school iniatives.

    Liar.

    The Texas legislature passed enabling legislation in 1995 and there are now 190 charters operating in Texas.

    You ought to stick to offering union editorials as proof of whatever brand of snake-oil you’re peddling at the moment. At least then there’s some wiggle room.

  36. Mike in Texas says:

    Allen,

    I made an error. It should have said “vouchers” not charters.