I did not know about the actual agenda of Allen and Wilkins, until Diane Ravitch read my 'praise' of Mr Kristof in an email, and wrote to me: "Susan, do you know what these women actually support?" I wanted to cry when I did some research. I hate to be bamboozled! Just when I was telling people that the journalists at The NY Times were trustworthy and finally telling the truth about the war on our profession I got blind-sided!.
I am just an ordinary person, a writer and former teacher, not a reformer, academic or activist, and I depend on journalists I admire as I do Mr. Kristof, to accomplish due diligence and know the truth before recommending policy in the disguise of a 'feel-good article'.
"We're not going to get better teachers unless we pay them more," Kristof quotes Amy Wilkins of the Education Trust.
WOW. What teacher would disagree with that! But the devil lies in Ms. Wilkins' methodology for determining who gets more! Did Mr. Kristof (or editors at your paper) know that Amy Wilkins is a strong supporter of NCLB?
Likewise, Jeanne Allen of the Center for Education Reform says, "We're the first people to say, throw them $100,000, throw them whatever it takes."
Really? Jeanne Allen is a proponent of vouchers and charters and closing schools with low scores. They indeed recommend merit pay, but they also support using standardized test scores to evaluate teachers so as to identify those "bad" teachers, and firing 5-10% of all teachers every year, based on test scores.
This is the same old 'blame the teachers,' and the same bogus evaluation criteria pushed by Klein and Rhee -- policies that emptied our schools of the top, experienced professionals.
Thus, public school teachers will be quickly unemployed, so how, Mr. Kristof, will they get the pay they deserve for the job that is impossible in schools which are run by corrupt and incompetent administrations?
Mr. Kristof says that: " both Ms. Wilkins and Ms. Allen add in the next breath that pay should be for performance, with more rigorous evaluation."
Was Mr. Kristof unaware of the special definition of "Evaluation" that these two ladies are pushing? "That makes sense to me," he says next, because he does not grasp how they define 'RIGOROUS EVALUATION" and thus, he does not grasp the truth anymore than the people who will read his column, and who trust him!
Rigorous evaluation makes sense to everyone, if it is genuine and replaces the subjective slander of principals, but judging teacher performance on the basis of standardized tests of the kids who come into the schools today, unprepared to learn or do work, is outrageous! Evaluation policies such as those approved by Allen and Wilkins will not lead to merit pay , but are just another attempt to label teachers as 'bad' and make sure that few teachers get to stay long enough to get pay raises due with longevity, let alone merit pay!.
Mr. Kristof reports that the Education Trust is " an education reform organization! "
WOW! That sounds so, hmmmm, important? All it is missing is weighted words like 'American' or 'Democracy'.
This name makes it sound as if Wilkins' conclusions on 'reform' is based on genuine third level 'research,' but it is actually no more than slanted opinion.
The National Standards research was third level research (the kind of research done before a drug is approved!). It carefully studied the criteria for successful learning (not for evaluating teachers). Genuine reform would be based on this authentic research conducted in 12 districts across the nation, not the data from studies interpreted by a 'reform' organization and labeled as 'rigorous'... by them!
'Evaluating teachers' is the national 'rant of those who have declared war on the teaching profession (pedagogy), and have already caused massive failure of public schools because it does not reform learning. The New York Times is clueless about that Pew funded research on the Harvard thesis that is the genuine " National Standards Research" about the criteria for learning -- which includes four crucial principles for the administration of a school !
Teacher evaluation has never been a problem in decades of public school education, but now it is a hot topic because it opens up the possibility of ridding the system of teacher tenure, and (ironically) leads to teachers on a much lower pay grade! Supporting such "opinions" as tying the performance of a professional to the performance of our present population of learners on a test of memory, will end public education! Schools will be emptied of those 'bad' teachers, and replaced by novice practitioners who will fail too, and be gone in a few years, caught in a revolving door; their hard work and dedication, their education and expertise will mean nothing.
Maybe, Mr Kristof, you should teach students in NYC or LAUSD for a while, with your salary based upon the results of their performance on a test, or perhaps your salary should be based on the comprehension of the readers in Patagonia or Afghanistan, as long as we are assessing performance on bogus criteria. YOU would be fired soon enough, no matter your worth or merit.
Mr Kristof should write about genuine reform which would be to evaluate the administrations to see if they are supporting LEARNING! Maybe he needs to read The American Educator, and hear some of the voices who wish to see a Renaissance in our education, before this country is left in the global dust!
Susan Lee Schwartz