Today’s News Journal Murray Opinion is provoking! Kilroy says teachers need individual creativity and passion within free on extreme micromanaging

Raise the bar carefully in teacher education Frank B. Murray is H. Rodney Sharp Professor, School of Education, University of Delaware from News Journal Opinion April 27 ,2014

The “raising-the-bar” for grades, license scores, admission scores are advocated by policy-makers, like those who sponsored and voted for Bill 51, because they think that doing so will eventually improve teaching. This “raising-the-bar” approach for the prospective teacher, however, has another serious weakness. It overestimates the influence internal personal characteristics (like ability, disposition, knowledge, motivation, personality, etc.,) have in accounting for and explaining teaching behavior and it underestimates the influence of external situational factors and actions. This bias leads education reformers to focus on the characteristics and traits of the teacher and not directly on the features of teaching acts themselves, the very things the reformers seek to influence. The shift in focus from the teacher to teaching entails the study of, and the subsequent improving of, the routines, artifacts, lessons and methods of teaching a particular subject.

In my opinion teachers without that special passion and creativity as an individual don’t have a chance in preparing children for the working world and more importantly productive members of society. Many of us can recall that special teacher from our days as a student and the ones most harmful. Though some claim Common Core Standards broadens education the fact remain it tries to squeeze teachers into one mold and the same for children. Preparing children for college or careers leaves out the arts and sports. Teachers are not social-workers nor can they replace absent parents. However a good teacher with that special personal formula does positively spark the self-esteem of students. I think Red Clay’s 50% lowest possible grade score is meant to not demoralize students self-esteem beyond hope. No where does Common Core or the Rodel’s of the world support this worthwhile concept.

The wrongheaded reform goals meant to purge undesirable teachers out of the system takes the approach to demoralize all teachers whereas those with the strongest characters will rise to the top has made education less desirable as a career. Many business leaders who subscribes to a seven-year employee turnover business model may see this as healthy. This concept rotates stale old employees who’s productivity may have peaked with fresh eager young employees helps keep the profit margin healthy. Teach for American model does the same for education. However, they too burnout within 3 to 5 years. Teaching is a craft and motivating students is an art. There is a clear distinction between a “teacher” and an “instructor”. Many businesses fail because they went from having seminars to webinars where face to face human interaction is no more. Telling new teachers you have 2-3 years to provide the skills of a master teacher is wrongheaded! Sure teachers need to reach certain benchmarks in their teaching skills but that is where intervention needs to take place! We need staff development to be lead by master teachers not wall street developmental coaches. Reading student data doesn’t require data coaches! This is something that should be taught to those pursuing teaching degree!  

The Rodel’s of the world fails to see the distinction between a teacher and an instructor. Like in business, micromanaging employee rather than empowering employees leads to failure. And this also happens in government re: the failed Markell administration. No one dares to look Markell in the eye and say, “governor I think you got this one wrong”. Not even Matt Denn! Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy joins Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change! Why? Should he use his time doing his job?

Traditional public school teachers are people too! But if they join a charter school they become innovators even if that charter school fails to meet the same standards.

Every time there is another agenda to improve public education a new layer of administration and consultants are added and nothing is done to reduce class sizes. As this happens more money leaves the classroom and reduces “tangible” classroom resources.

If we can only create a more effective local control environment giving parents and the community the tools and transparency will we ever truly reform public education. Do notice the word “public” in public education. It’s there for a reason and a reminder! 

Crucifying 100% of the teachers to weed-out the 10% that might be in the wrong profession is pretty much immoral. Sure somebody will say more like 25%! But surely there are many young teachers in needs of quality teacher mentoring programs.

3 responses to “Today’s News Journal Murray Opinion is provoking! Kilroy says teachers need individual creativity and passion within free on extreme micromanaging

  1. At edcamp DE yesterday we had some great discussion about teaching, learning, testing and professional development, among other things. It was interesting to hear teachers from all different kinds of schools share their perspectives. A veteran teacher said that she has to document on paper how she is spending her time during the day, delineating the amount of time spent on RTI, with her PLC and so forth. She said that she was always spending time on those items anyway, because that’s what good teachers do, but now she has to take time away from them so that she can document that she was actually doing it. Funny, but they have not yet asked her to document how much time she spends at home working on prep and other school-related work. I guess those hours don’t really count.
    I agree that more local control is necessary and I find it ironic that the panels of “experts” and “consultants” that are trying to influence policy very rarely include any experienced teachers. Theory that is not informed by, or supported by, practical experience is not worth very much.


    • kilroysdelaware

      Brian, allowing industry aka the business community a bigger seat at the reform table was the biggest mistake. We’re basing failure of public schools on an obvious flawed federal law call NCLB which only represents 9% of total education expenditure. After you pull out administration fees and compliance such as testing what’s really left? The there is all the lost in productivity re: actually teaching due to all this documentation and rewiring teachers to adapt to new standards. Basically the fed take the stick holding the carrot and beat the schools over the head.

      The are big red flags flying high and out state legislators refuse to look at them. We have an generation of students who are exposed to DSTP, DCAS and now The Smarter Balanced Assessment. Sorry to say the so-called failures of transitional public schools were planned and calculated to justify charter schools and radical reforms to chip away at labor.

      There are many things teachers deal with in charter and traditional public schools that aren’t factored in. Lack of engagement of parents does impact outcomes! Absenteeism impacts outcomes! Poverty impacts outcomes! The growth model was a step in the right direction and though many students are socially promoted while not meeting grade-level some do show growth.

      As for that local control that involves the community it’s a tough call! Schools can’t even get a decent amount of parents to attend PTA meetings let along serve on school and district committees. I never dreamed that I would be engaged this deep when I attended a Title 1 meeting for my son’s elementary school back in 1995. That’s 19 years ago. The reality is by time parents work their way trough PTA involvement and sitting on various school /district level committees it almost time for their child to leave the system. Knowledge is power and they system has done well to limit the truth! The intent was never allow parents at the table of policy-making! I am far from an expert on all of this but I done know I have a better clue to what’s going on than 90% of the state legislators and real transparency is the key to real change! I’ll rant about H.B.#23 because be able to listen to board meetings is valuable for the public and even legislators who can’t make the meetings. You saw what happen in Red Clay re: their inclusion agenda! Parents united and stepped up! It push the board back to the table to devise a better acceptable plan. That is what local control is all about!


    • Greg MAZZOTTA

      May I ask…was there any mention or reference provided for the role model schools that are Baldrige/Education recipients? or the work done in Milford?