Monday, February 8, 2010

Who Do You Trust?

An alleged non-partisan group has come out with a report about Michigan's teacher quality and they have boldly given Michigan a D-.  Already jumping on the bandwagon of the anti-teacher and the Michigan-bashing report is The Detroit News.  The paper's editorial quotes many of the conclusions of the report without substantiating or challenging any of its claims about the State's Teacher Policies......

Who are we to trust?  I have a difficult time giving any of the report any amount of credence due to one of the first outrageous claims made in the report's summary.  In the Executive Summary the report claims that Michigan "Awards tenure virtually automatically".  Ridiculous.  How automatic is 4 years of PROBATION?  How automatic is the educational requirements needed for continuing certification?  I just don't understand how anyone believes that the four years that a new teacher must be on probation and may be dismissed without cause anytime in those four years is an automatic means to gain teacher tenure (employment rights/due process rights).  How automatic is it when the new teacher must face evaluations each semester (twice a year) or more times than twice a year if the teacher if deficient in some area.  Hmmmm............... at least 8 evaluations, constant college coursework, state testing........

And, everyone always seems to want to fault Michigan teachers for a tenure system that basically only gives employees due process rights.  I have always loudly contended that it is very easy to fire a bad teacher.  If a principal does her job correctly bad teachers are moved out with due deliberation.  Where school districts err is when stupid politics are involved, such as wanting to fire a teacher just because a student or parent found out the teacher planned a "commitment ceremony" with his partner (Byron Center, Michigan 1995).  School Boards do stupid things and the costs of screwing up the legal process are substantial.

So, regardless of all the sound policy suggestions contained in Michigan's own little report card, how much of that report can anyone reasonably trust?

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