Like tougher laws to convict the guilty, education has witnessed a recent push to weed out the bad teachers. In my home state of Indiana, the new RISE evaluation model began in districts that did not have a long term contract. Tenure and seniority no longer protect the "Lifers". But, at what cost?
This year,our corporation will see the "retirement" of about 30 teachers. In years past, the average has been five to ten. Further, we expect to see higher than average resignations (to go along with some of our better principals or school administrators who already have resigned) There is no way to account for the number of decent potential teachers who switched majors or career choices before graduation. In contrast, we know of not one teacher was found ineffective and dismissed.
While the Blackstone Ratio suggests better ten guilty remain free than one innocent man convicted (10:1), the new RISE evaluation has cost our school district at least 30 decent teachers while not removing a single ineffective one (1:30).
For our school district, the cost will be even higher than just the loss of experienced teachers who will leave the profession a few years before they were ready, taking with them years of invaluable experience. Left behind are teachers now afraid to ask critical questions of leadership, resulting in an administrative hegemony. The new RISE evaluation system, which is easily manipulated to be subjective to administration's whims, has muffled any protest to administration policy, no matter how detrimental to learning.
What's more, basing evaluations on high stakes testing has pitted teacher against teacher. Consider this quote from Mark Naison, professor at Fordham University:
The result (of high stakes testing and teacher's evaluation based on them) is teachers have become a kind of Education Stasi, ready to report their colleagues to the authorities if the do anything to jeopardize their status.
So much for collegiality, so much for cooperation, so much for collective effort. The result (of testing and evaluations) is a climate of fear and mutual suspicion that will make a mockery of the kind of values that best promote learning and a democratic citizenship.Remember, instead of a 10:1 or 100:1 ratio of protecting good teachers from the bad, this year's ratio was inverted to about 1:30. Is Mark Naison correct then that this is a mockery of learning and democratic citizenship?
Consider these words from Pol Pot, brutal dictator of Cambodia whose regime was responsible for murdering millions:
"Better to arrest 10 innocent people by mistake than free a single guilty party."
Think of the incredible power, the resources, the money, the state has at its disposal. Then consider these words of Peter Keane, who worked as a Public Defender in the justice system:
Take away (public defense) and all our other democratic rights, which are so carefully woven into the constitutional design of our republic, become meaningless. Without resistance from those who represent people being prosecuted, all freedom is ultimately lost, because it is the natural human tendency of those who wield power to abuse those without it.
And so it goes with public education today.