Teachers helping (or firing) teachers

Peer review — teachers working with struggling colleagues — is helping to improve or weed out ineffective teachers in Montgomery County, Maryland, reports the Washington Post. The union is cooperating.

. . . Of 66 Montgomery teachers in peer review in the 2008-09 school year, 10 are being dismissed and 21 have resigned or retired. Five will remain in review for a second year. The remaining 30 will successfully exit.

“We’ve changed the whole culture from ‘gotcha’ to support,” said Montgomery Superintendent Jerry D. Weast.

If teachers don’t improve after a year of mentoring, a panel of 16 teachers and principals “decides whether to recommend termination or a second year of monitoring,” reports the Post. “No one gets more than two years.”

Toledo Federation of Teachers pioneered peer review 28 years ago, but few districts have followed suit. It requires a high degree of trust between the superintendent and the union.

In Montgomery County, a poor job evaluation triggers peer review. 

Each year, the program weeds out 2 to 3 percent of the county’s probationary teachers, along with a smaller number of tenured faculty. (Of 66 teachers in peer review this year, 27 had tenure.) In nine academic years, peer review has pared 403 teachers from the system.

Mentors make unannounced classroom visits and exchange dozens of phone calls and e-mails to help teachers improve.

Peer review doesn’t work without more rigorous standards, use of data and managerial discretion, writes Eduwonk.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. The article’s a puff piece for the union’s unhappy and unwilling efforts to respond to the lack of accountability of the union’s particular piece of the public education system.

    When you brush away the frosting what you find is that there are darned few such programs in the country and that those are hardly better then the pre-existing situation. But like a dancing bear, it’s not how well the bear dances that’s important but that the bear dances at all.

    What local conditions – as the article states this isn’t a fast-spreading phenomenon – brought this program into existence? The article doesn’t say but it should. A union shouldn’t, and never does, give away something unless it gets something in return of equal or greater value.

    So? What did the union get to acquiesce to this demand?

  2. Few administrators I’ve known would have been willing to give teachers this kind of power. I don’t see how the union is to blame for the lack of these types of programs.

    If you think the teachers’ unions are only looking out for their members I’d suggest you read NYC Educator’s posts on Randi Weingarten, or google the term “rubber rooms”.

  3. Either the teachers’ unions will pull the teeth of peer review OR the unions will command the process, and use it to make life intolerable for whistleblowers.

    Most teachers are incompetent, in the sense that all they add to student competence could be achieved without their help. Students who can decode the phonetic alphabet can read History or poetry on their own, and cramming it down unwilling throars is counter-productive. Between addition and subtraction of fractions (fourth grade) and the equation of the line (eighth grade or so), Math teachers recycle old material. Most vocational training occurs more effectively on the job than in a classroom.

    The best job protection a good worker has is a competitive market in the good or service s/he supplies.

  4. The “rubber room” (where teachers earn $70,000 a year doing crossword puzzles, reading the newspaper, and drinking coffee) is proof that the AFT protects its members. It’s also evidence that taxpayers would benefit if the New York legislature (and US Congress) made some adjustments to labor law. Unions play the game by the rules (sort of). If every pitch is a strike (or a home run), the distance between the mound and the plate should be changed.

  5. Please, the rubber room is where the principals’ least favorites, or the ones who dare to stand up and speak their mind, are sent.

    Its what you get when you put politicians like Bloomberg and Klein in charge of a school system, instead of educators.

    Most teachers are incompetent, in the sense that all they add to student competence could be achieved without their help.

    Typical anti-teacher BS presented with ZERO facts to back it up.

  6. Peer review is powerful as a positive force, beyond just an intervention, when it for everyone (it makes a solid basis for merit pay)

  7. (Mike): “If you think the teachers’ unions are only looking out for their members I’d suggest you …google the term ‘rubber rooms’.”
    (Malcolm): “The ‘rubber room’ (where teachers earn $70,000 a year doing crossword puzzles, reading the newspaper, and drinking coffee) is proof that the AFT protects its members.”
    (Mike): “Please, the rubber room is where the principals’ least favorites, or the ones who dare to stand up and speak their mind, are sent.”

    These are not mutually exclusive. The point is, it’s so hard to fire incompetent teachers and child molesters that the NYC district keeps them on staff (at up to $70,000 per year). That’s evidence of union protection.

    (Mike): “Its what you get when you put politicians like Bloomberg and Klein in charge of a school system, instead of educators.”

    Taxpayers would be better served if parents were in charge. That is, if politicians gave to individual parents the power to determine for their own children which institution, if any, shall receive the K-12 education subsidy which taxpayers will spend on their (the parents’) children.

    (Malcolm): “Most teachers are incompetent, in the sense that all they add to student competence could be achieved without their help.”
    (Mike): “Typical anti-teacher BS presented with ZERO facts to back it up.”

    a) Please try be civil,
    b) We type assertions and arguments onto this comment thread. Dunno what “facts” other than symbols on a computer monitor I could offer. I did provide arguments in support of my assertion. I was a Math teacher for ten years in the Hawaii DOE, so I will stand by that assertion about the vacuity of the Math curriculum between 4th grade and 8th grade. The Professors of Education who tout “authentic instruction” support the argument about vocational training occurring more effectively on the job.

  8. Its what you get when you put politicians like Bloomberg and Klein in charge of a school system, instead of educators.

    Might as well keep on looking for that pony then because it’s public education, i.e. a result of the political process and you know who gets elected. That’s right, politicians.

    When it becomes a pedogocracy we’ll give you call. How would that be?

  9. Allen,

    Mike wants a government-operated school system free of politics. Which is kinda like a ham sandwich without ham.

  10. The mentoring jobs are excellent for teachers who are tired of teaching.

  11. (Bandit): “The mentoring jobs are excellent for teachers who are tired of teaching.”

    That’s “resource teacher”. I agree that it’s hard to see how mentoring works without paying for two teachers in one classroom.

    Politicians could save taxpayers quite a lot of money if they allowed schools to substitute mentoring for Ed school credentials. Why not…
    1) allow schools to hire anyone with a BA in the subject area or a related field as teachers’ aides, in-house substitutes, and depertment gofers,
    2) observe their performance onteh job for two or three years,
    3) hire them as full-time teachers when someone retires or trade them to other schools when someone in nother department retires (“Give us a vetted History teacher and we’ll give you Math rookie and our next season frst-round draft pick”)?

  12. and can save even more if mentoring is part of the normal job description (giving and receiving)

  13. Malcolm, don’t be too tough on Mike. He lives in a world that’s almost the way he wants it to be, i.e. a mandatory-attendance, tax-supported education system which exists explicitly for the benefit of teachers.

    Since teachers don’t have to teach, there being little in the way of effort, inclination or mechanism to determine whether they are teaching, it’s arguable that the public education system already exists to benefit teachers. Not too many job situations in which not only is there no effort made to determine competence but the question itself is considered the height of bad manners.

    The overarching problem is the disconnect between authority and responsibility.

    A school district has the authority to command resources so as to operate a public education system but has no responsibility to ensure that education occurs.

    That disconnect casts a shadow over the entire system and its ancillaries; administrators don’t have to run schools or the district in manner that ensures education occurs, textbooks can become near-useless wastes of wood pulp, ed schools can charge exorbitant fees to produce utterly unprepared graduates and teachers, well teachers are at the bottom of a hierarchy that exists without any pressure to justify its existence.

  14. Ahh, interesting, Malcolm makes the charge that teachers are incompetent, then accuses me of being uncivil.

    Allen claims teachers don’t have to teach.

    Yet neither can produce ANY facts to back up their ridiculous claims.

  15. Malcolm,

    Your statement said nothing about curriculum, you EXACT words were “most teachers are incompetent”

    Since you have failed to produce FACTS in support of your assertion my opininon remains, your statement is BS.

    If you have the facts to support your claim that the majority of teachers are incompetent please enlighten us.

  16. Mike in Texas writeth:

    Please, the rubber room is where the principals’ least favorites, or the ones who dare to stand up and speak their mind, are sent.

    Pot, kettle, black baby. Got any FACTS to back up this little opinion?

  17. Well Allen I DID mention NYC Educator’s website.

  18. Since you couldn’t be bothered Allen here are a few stories for you to read:

    http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/education/2008/05/04/2008-05-04_teachers_in_trouble_spending_years_in_ru.html

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/10/education/10education.html

    Here’s a lovely little tidbit:

    Still more, including Mr. Valtchev, had not yet received a formal letter specifying any allegation. Until their cases are resolved, which can take years, all are required to spend the 181 days of the school year in the rubber room.

  19. And as usual when anyone looks at what you call evidence there’s not much there, there.

    Now with regard to the unsupported assertion that “the rubber room is where the principals’ least favorites, or the ones who dare to stand up and speak their mind, are sent.”

    From the NYPost story you linked:

    The top reason educators had been removed from a school in the one-day snapshot obtained by The News was they had been arrested for alleged crimes and were awaiting prosecution.

    Feel free to find support in the linked article for your contention that the purpose of rubber rooms is as the principal’s purgatory.

    Of course there is one public education institution in which teacher’s opinions are necessarily sought after, there being hardly any other professionals whose opinions to seek: charters.

    Further, I’m going to guess, and I’ll freely admit I have no evidence on which to base this thought other then common sense, that in charters the most implacable enemy of the lousy teacher are all the good teachers. The lousy teacher is, after all, a threat to their livelihood.

  20. The data identify the longest-serving person stuck in a rubber room as a teacher who was accused of sexually abusing a child and yanked from his classroom 5-1/2 years ago.

    Because the allegations were never proved, and because he refuses to quit his job, he collects his full annual salary – up to $95,000

    I guess “innocent until proven guilty” doesn’t mean anything in mayoral control world and I guess vindication doesn’t either.

    Fofana, who started teaching in 1989 after first working in his native Ivory Coast, had his first run-in at Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn in 1998, when he was accused of unprofessional conduct and corporal punishment and sent to a holding room in another high school before rubber rooms were created.

    He was cleared by an arbitrator but got into trouble again in 2001 at Brooklyn’s Canarsie High School, where he was accused of pushing and threatening a student.

    This time, the city never held a hearing, instead assigning Fofana in 2003 to Medgar Evers Preparatory School on the college’s campus in Brooklyn.

    There, he was accused of screaming and cursing at students and assigned to the Staten Island rubber room where he still goes — but now with additional charges

    Hmm, cleared on multiple charges, seems like someone has it out for this teacher.

    Jaime Castro had a successful, decade-long teaching career until he transferred in 1999 to Manhattan’s Public School 208.

    The principal didn’t seem to want him there, he said, and gave him an unsatisfactory rating two years in a row, landing him in a Manhattan rubber room in 2002 with incompetence charges until 2004, when an arbitrator dismissed those claims.

    He returned to his school and was soon accused of hurting a child.

    Once again we see a teacher with multiple charges and cleared, seems to me like a vendetta.

    But I’ve also reported on examples of quality teachers persecuted by insecure or dictatorial administrators for being active in the union, speaking to the press or merely having independent views on curriculum. Not every teacher in the rubber room deserves the fate, even if some surely do.

    Well straight from the mouth of a New York Times reported who actually did some research on the subject.

  21. We mentor as part of our regular job. I typically mentor two or three other teachers every year. No biggie. I don’t make any hiring/firing decisions; my role is just to help them improve. Classroom visits are during my plan hour (yeah, that one hour a day when I’m supposed to be doing all my grading and data-driven lesson planning…).

    Around here, anyone with 60 hours of college can work as non-cert staff. Don’t need a B.A.

    We often hire new grads as aides, study hall monitors, perm subs, etc.; sometimes we hire them as teachers, but mostly we don’t.

  22. Allen,

    You could also look at:

    http://nycrubberroomreporter.blogspot.com/2009/03/gotcha-squad-and-new-york-city-rubber.html

    a Blog by an actual NY City parent. Here’s a tidbit for you:

    In New York City, tenured teachers are being removed from their classrooms and positions by Principals and administrators suddenly and, in many cases, without probable cause.

    And here’s an explanation of how it works:

    After a principal requests a TAC, the charges are prepared, and the teacher is declared “incompetent” without his/her knowing anything about it. The TAC is considered privileged information and the teacher, about whom the TAC is about, will not be able to obtain these memos.

    Got that Allen, teachers are declared incompetent and denied their due process rights under New York Law, specifically 3020-A which states a tenured teacher must be given a hearing within 15 days.

  23. Mike,

    Many of the teachers with whom I worked knew their subject and liked kids. That was not my measure of competence.

    (Malcolm): “Most teachers are incompetent, in the sense that all they add to student competence could be achieved without their help.”
    (Mike): “Your statement said nothing about curriculum, you EXACT words were ‘most teachers are incompetent’. ”

    Critical abbreviation there, Mike. I expected that people would understand “student competence” to imply some measure of curriculum mastery.

    No matter a surgeon’s skill level, if s/he operates w/o need, s/he’s incompetent (or crooked). The system (compulsory attendance, tax subsidization, State-prescribed curriculum, State (government, generally) operation of schools, and policies which restrict parents’ options for the use of the taxpayers’ age 6-18 subsidy to schools operated by dues-paying members of the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel) does more harm than good.

    (Mike): “I guess ‘innocent until proven guilty’ doesn’t mean anything in mayoral control world and I guess vindication doesn’t either.”

    “Innocent until proven guilty” is the standard for conviction in a criminal proceeding. Civil cases set the bar lower. Employment relations in the private sector set the bar lower yet, and informal associations (friendship, interest affiliations like horticulture clubs, bridge clubs) set the bar lower yet. Would you hire a babysitter who “has not yet been proved beyond a reasonable doubt” to be a child molester?

    I would guess that most teachers want to do a good job. Most teachers would prefer a classroom of students who wanted to be there. Most teachers would prefer to work with enthusiastic colleagues. The current structure of the US K-12 education industry acts against all of this.

  24. What I got Mike was that you’ll take statements out of context so as to twist their meaning, ignore contravening evidence, offer up non-credible sources as though they have some claim to credibility, try to generalize from the exception when it suits you or dismiss evidence of the general case as an exception when that suits you.

    Oh yeah, and you cry “foul” when confronted with your gyrations.

    But then it must be tough watching the wheels come off your world.

    Charters in forty states with the various impediments to their expansion under steady, and successful, attack. Vouchers, despite the focused attention of the defenders of the educational status quo, continuing to soldier on and perhaps the unkindest cut of all, the new president who should traditionally have been an ally in the fight to maintain the educational status quo, consorting with the enemy – charters.

    That last has got to be especially tough, hey? As the de facto head of the Democratic party how’s Obama going to change party policy with regard to education? Looks like maybe Democrats for Education Reform have a member in the White House.

  25. Ahh, can’t study the facts presented I see. And where are the facts you were supposed to post? You know the ones to support your statement that teachers don’t have to teach.

    As for charters, do a little research on Ohio charters or look at the recent RAND study on charters.

  26. Malcolm wrote:

    “Most teachers are incompetent, in the sense that all they add to student competence could be achieved without their help.”

    Again sir, where is your proof?

  27. (Mike): “Typical anti-teacher BS presented with ZERO facts to back it up.”
    (Mike): “Ahh, interesting, Malcolm makes the charge that teachers are incompetent, then accuses me of being uncivil. Allen claims teachers don’t have to teach. Yet neither can produce ANY facts to back up their ridiculous claims.”
    (Mike): “Since you have failed to produce FACTS in support of your assertion my opininon remains, your statement is BS.”
    (Mike): “Again sir, where is your proof?”

    “Facts” and “proof” are different things.
    The education industry is not a natural monopoly. Beyond a very low level, there are no economies of scale at the delivery end of the education business as it currently operates. “Natural monopoly” and “economies of scale” are two usual welfare-economic arguments for State operation of an industry. Even when an industry qualifies as a natural monopoly or exhibits significant economies of scale, the case for State operation is shakey. Education only marginally qualifies as a public good as economists use the term, and the “public goods” argument implies subsidy and regulation, at most, not State operation of an industry. In general, the “public goods” argument for State subsidy contains a serious gap: oversight of corporate functions is a public good. The State is a corporation. Oversight of State functions is a public good which the State itself cannot supply. State assumption of responsibility for provision of some public good (e.g., education) transforms the free rider problem at the root of “public goods” analysis but does not eliminate it.

    Formal Models of Authority: Introduction and Political Economy Applications
    Rationality and Society, May 1999; 11: 115 – 138.

    “Aside from the important issue of how it is that a ruler may economize on communication, contracting and coercion costs, this leads to an interpretation of the state that cannot be contractarian in nature: citizens would not empower a ruler to solve collective action problems in any of the models discussed, for the ruler would always be redundant and costly. The results support a view of the state that is eminently predatory, (the ? MK.) case in which whether the collective actions problems are solved by the state or not depends on upon whether this is consistent with the objectives and opportunities of those with the (natural) monopoly of violence in society. This conclusion is also reached in a model of a predatory state by Moselle and Polak (1997). How the theory of economic policy changes in light of this interpretation is an important question left for further work.”

    If we differ over a matter of taste, an industrial structure which presents customers with numerous options will enable the satisfaction of various preferences, while a monopoly provider must create unhappy losers. If we differ over a matter of fact, where “What works?” is an empirical question, a competitive market will generate more information than will a State-monopoly enterprise. A State-monopoly enterprise is like an experiment with one treatment and no controls, a retarded experimental design.

    Abundant empirical evidence supports the following generalizations:
    1) As institutions displace parents in education decision-making, overall system performance falls.
    2) Political control of school harms most the children of the least politically adept parents.

    Facts? According to __Mathematics Achievement in the Middle School Years__ (1996 TIMSS), the Singapore 5th percentile score (8th grade Math) is higher than the US 50th percentile score.

    “Give into the power of the teacher the fewest possible coercive measures, so that the only source of the pupil’s respect for the teacher is the human and intellectual qualities of the latter.” Albert Einstein, __Ideas And Opinions__, p. 61, (Three Rivers Press).

    “It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wreck and ruin without fail. It is a very grave mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty. To the contrary, I believe it would be possible to rob even a healthy beast of prey of its voraciousness, if it were possible, with the aid of a whip, to force the beast to devour continuously, even when not hungry, especially if the food, handed out under such coercion, were to be selected accordingly.
    “Autobiographical Notes,” in __Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist__(1951)

    Gerard Lassibile and Lucia Navarro Gomez
    “Organization and Efficiency of Educational Systems: some empirical findings”, pg. 16,
    __Comparative Education__, Vol. 36 #1, 2000, Feb.
    “Furthermore, the regression results indicate that countries where private education is more widespread perform significantly better than countries where it is more limited. The result showing the private sector to be more efficient is similar to those found in other contexts with individual data (see, for example, Psucharopoulos, 1987; Jiminez, et. al, 1991).
    This finding should convince countries to reconsider policies that reduce the role of the private sector in the field of education”.

  28. Political control of school harms most the children of the least politically adept parents.

    Ironically you’ve made a point I’ve argued with others here for a long time; politicians have no business setting standards for schools.

    Other than that I fail to see anything that backs up your statement:

    Most teachers are incompetent, in the sense that all they add to student competence could be achieved without their help.

  29. (Mike): “…politicians have no business setting standards for schools.”

    The State (government, generally) cannot subsidize education without a definition of “education”.

    (Mike): “Other than that I fail to see anything that backs up your statement..”

    This is getting tiresome. No matter how much evidence I provide, all Mike does in response is squeeze his eyes shut, stick his fingers in his ears, and chant “Naaaah, naaaah, I can’t hear you.”

    My last attempt (a capsule from my previous post:…

    “It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom…”

  30. Malcolm,

    I read your post, I asked for specific proof of your assertions which you have not provided.

    I’m familiar with the TIMSS, especially in the areas of comparisons with other countries. Researchers indicate the problem with 8th grade Math in the US is the curriculum and the standards, not the teachers.

    In the grades 5-8, the U.S. expects between 27 and 32 topic to be taught each year. This far exceeds the international median for each of these grades (21-23 topic per year) and contrasts sharply with the 20-21 topics intended by the highest achieving TIMSS countries. ,P> When specific topics are introduced to students also differs. In the top achieving countries, students are introduced to an average of seven topics during the first three grades and about 15 during grades four to six. U.S. students are introduced to nearly three times as many topics in the first three grades (20) and a few less during grades four to six (12). In seventh and eighth grade, top-achieving countries introduce almost twice as many topics as does the U.S. (10 vs. 6). Thus the overall pattern for the U.S. appears to be to introduce students to many mathematics topics in the early grades, to continue to teach these every year, to move on to other topics before students achieve mastery, and to introduce few new topics to students in the last two years of middle school.

  31. This is getting tiresome. No matter how much evidence I provide, all Mike does in response is squeeze his eyes shut, stick his fingers in his ears, and chant “Naaaah, naaaah, I can’t hear you.”

    Har! Noticed that did you?

    Mike’s also careful to ignore what he can’t respond to. Notice the lack of any response to the fearful news of a Democratic president consorting with the enemy.

    Mike in Texas wrote:

    Ironically you’ve made a point I’ve argued with others here for a long time; politicians have no business setting standards for schools.

    I don’t think it’s called an argument when all you do is repeat a demand endlessly. I’m sure there’s a term for that but it isn’t “argument”.

    Of course you could expand a trifle on your desire to see politicians out of the business of politics but you never do. You just want what you want, you want it now and you don’t want any argument or reasons why you can’t have it.

    Better man up Mike and learn to accept the reality that as long as education emerges from the political process it’ll be controlled by the people via our elected representatives. No pedagocracy in your future I’m afraid.

  32. Ah Allen, STILL no facts to back up your claim teachers don’t have to teach.

  33. So Mike, want to tell us what the take is in the trenches of the defenders of the educational status quo with regard to the Obama/Duncan love affair with charters?

  34. (Mike): “Ah Allen, STILL no facts to back up your claim teachers don’t have to teach.”

    Mike, according to your previous post on TIMSS, US curriculum guidelines mandate that US teachers not teach. That was my original point as well (sort of), when I said “(m)ost teachers are incompetent, in the sense that all they add to student competence could be achieved without their help.” Aggregation of authority and resources degrades the performance of the education industry. While parasites and child molesters infest the education industry (a job is a school is to a pedophile what a job in a candy factory is to a chocoholic), the larger problem is that teachers who would be effecitve in a different institutional environment cannot function effectively in the current institutional environment.

    For example, American Math textbooks cost too much, weigh too much, abound with gaudy distractions, and present an incoherent sequence of instruction. I was a high school Math teacher. After a couple of years in the Hawaii DOE, I stopped using the textbooks my department supplied and gave to students worksheets of my own composition. That worked at the high school level, where we ability group students and have course options after each year, but what could a fourth grade teacher do? S/he could place students on self-paced instruction, but what happens next year? Unless s/he controls a one-room schoolhouse, next year the students will move on to fifth grade teachers who will present the prescribed fifth grade curriculum, and the fourth grade acceleration will have been wasted.

    In Science, English and History, the problem is worse.

  35. Malcolm,

    So are you saying I misunderstood your original statement, that you were NOT teacher bashing?

    I’m quite familiar with poor textbooks and curriculum myself, as I currently teach in a district that forces us to use Everyday Math as our sole curriculum. It did not prepare the students for the Texas assessments.

  36. Ragnarok says:

    Malcolm,

    Henry Cecil created a fictional barrister named Miles Crabtree, who specialized in arguments that had “a sticky mess in the middle…”. Outstanding efforts were known as “prize Crabtrees”. Strong judges went weak at the knees on hearing that Crabtree was to appear before them.

    But that was before he moved to Texas and became a teacher.

  37. If a student can do this…

    a = 7 3/10 – 2 3/4 => a = ___ (about grade 4),

    she is ready for the material we used to call Alg. I and (given 36 weeks, four days per week, 1 hour per day of competent instruction) should be able to do this…
    ………………………………………………………..
    “Let T subset of E^2xR^2 be a cartesian coordinate syste. Let Lsub1 and Lsub2 be lines in T such that {psub1(85,108), psub2(35, -12)} is a subset of Lsub1 and {psub3(28,216), psub4(126, -120)} i a subset of Lsub2, find…

    m(Lsub1) = ___ (the slope of Lsub1. Slope is a function from segments or lines to real numbers)
    d(psub1,psub2) = __ (Distance is a function from pairs of points to real numbers)
    u(psub1psub2) = __ (overline, to designate segment. Midpoint is a function from segments to points.

    Lsub1 point-slope form = ___
    slope-intercept form = ___
    intercept form = ___
    Standard form = ___

    Lsub1 intersect Lsub 2 = ___
    ……………………………………………………………

    by the end of the year, no sweat, no tears, and no homework.

    Half the class should be able to do this as well…

    vector form Lsub 1 = ___

    Matrix (determinant) form Lsub1 = ___.

    If you toss the textbook and chart a direct path from point a, solving linear equations of the form…

    2a=20 => a = ___

    to point b…

    Lsub1 intersect Lsub2 = ___

    you will have more than enough time for sightseeing (definition by recursion, proof by induction, recreational combinatorics) along the way.

  38. Ragnarok says:

    Here’s Cecil himself:

    “It was what might be called a prize Crabtree, with hardly any beginning, no end and a sticky mess in the middle.”

    From Friends At Court.

  39. Mike,

    Thanks. Yes. My only issue with most teachers is that they do not support policies which give to individual parents the power to determine for their own (the parents’) children which institution shall reveive the taxpayers’ K-12 education subsidy. That said, I also believe that most of the K-12 curriculum is make-work for dues-paying members of the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel. It does not take 12 years to teach a normal child to read and compute. Most vocational instruction occurs more effectively on the job than in a classroom. State provision of History and Civics instruction is a threat to democracy, just as State operation of newspapers would be (is, in totalitarian countries).

  40. (Ragnarok): “It was what might be called a prize Crabtree, with hardly any beginning, no end and a sticky mess in the middle.”

    Like this argument.

  41. Malcolm,

    I don’t know how it was in Hawaii but everywhere else I’ve been teachers have little or no say so in curriculum.

    In the problem you used many 4th graders are not capable (yet) of doing such a problem. Everyday Math introduces it but like it does with so many other topics, jumps away from it before many kids have a chance to achieve mastery. Later they are exposed to it again in a process called “spiraling”, which to me is little more than throwing the topic in at random intervals.

    Everyday Math was chosen against the wishes of the Math teachers in the district.

    Funny you should bring up Crabtree Rags, as I have actual relatives by that name. Insert your personal attacks here.

  42. (Mike): “I don’t know how it was in Hawaii but everywhere else I’ve been teachers have little or no say so in curriculum.”

    If they say “Teach garbage”, close the door and teach Math (or the phonetic alphabet, or principles of scientific reasoning, or History). Going back to my medical analogy, if the hospital administrator says to the cardiac surgeon “use these carpentry tools and wear boxing gloves”, the competent surgeon will smuggle the necessary tools into the operating theater and wear sterile latex gloves. Of course, in the real world, he would quit and blow the whistle. In the US education industry, that last option doesn’t work (corruption and incompetence go all the way to the top–Congress).

  43. I don’t know how it was in Hawaii but everywhere else I’ve been teachers have little or no say so in curriculum.

    And your point would be that teacher should have a great deal of say so in curriculum?

    I’d just adore to hear more detail about how that’d happen. Will school boards still be elected by the public or would it work out better for you if school boards were elected by teachers?

  44. Malcolm,

    If you live in a state with strong tenure laws that will allow you to teach what you know is right, and you have tenure, you can get away with it. In Texas we do not have tenure and are basically at will employees.

  45. Case in point. When Mike can’t make a reply, smart-alecky, tendentious or otherwise, he punts.

  46. (Mike): “If you live in a state with strong tenure laws that will allow you to teach what you know is right, and you have tenure, you can get away with it. In Texas we do not have tenure and are basically at will employees.”

    I’d rathjer be an “at will” employee. That means that the screw-up across the hall is also an at will employee and I will have to endure his incompetence for only one year.

    What happens if a first grade teacher uses phonics methods in a school district where Whole Language con artists have sold administrators on their curriculum? Who is watching? What happens if an eighth grade Math teacher sends the kids home with a “Conected Math” or “Discovery Math” textbook and uses sequential, incremental worksheets and direct instruction methods in class? Who is watching? Doesn’t success validate your choice of method? Seems to me you only have problems when your method fails.

  47. Malcolm,

    Have you never heard of the “Open Court Police”?

  48. (Mike): “Have you never heard of the ‘Open Court Police’?”

    No. I searched, and the first link was this.

    I infer that Open Court is a seriously scripted curriculum. Your point, if I understand correctly, is that a school which says “Teach by this method” actually means it. Okay. If you don’t like it, teach somewhere else.

    “What works?” is an empirical question which only an experiment (a competitive market) can determine. The best protection a good worker has is a competitive market in the service s/he provides.

  49. Malcolm,

    The charter schools are not competitive, ask any charter teacher if they can tell their corporate boss their curriculum stinks and they’re not gonna use it. They’d be fired on the spot.

  50. (Mike): “The charter schools are not competitive, ask any charter teacher if they can tell their corporate boss their curriculum stinks and they’re not gonna use it. They’d be fired on the spot.”

    An industry is competitive to the degree that customers have options in their choice of supplier in the good or service which that industry provides.