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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 19, 2012 7:47 AM. The previous post in this blog was 3.1 quake -- under Kelley Point. The next post in this blog is Rape of W. Hayden Island: Even architecture dude gets it. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Portland business group blasts school district, teachers union

We wrote about it here -- the school board passing on tens of millions in federal aid because it would come with the requirement that teachers be evaluated in part by use of test scores. Now the Portland Business Alliance speaks up to object that the teachers union and the scaredy-cats who "manage" the schools just cost the taxpayers big bucks so that they can continue to protect the dead wood in the classrooms:

For years, the business community has repeatedly been asked to come to the table to provide resources for schools. Not only have we supported campaigns for local levies and bonds, including the Multnomah County i-tax, operating levies and this year's capital bond, we also worked at the state level to provide more resources for schools. The business community's support for education funding has always come with the caveat that the district must effectively manage teachers and other personnel to ensure the best outcomes for students and prudently manage its budget. We are not seeing those objectives being met so, until the district and the union take meaningful steps to demonstrate that their actions are motivated by the best interests of students and not on preserving the entrenched status quo, the Alliance will suspend its efforts to support further funding requests.

Coming the week after the passage of the obscene school construction pork bond -- biggest in state history -- this protest smells a little funny, doesn't it? Nonetheless, the business folks are right: Super Carole and the school board bobbleheads are running the once proud Portland public schools right into the ground.

Comments (21)

When we have a strong consensus on what the teachers should be responsible for teaching, then we can talk about evaluating their performance.

Also, perhaps the PBA should sponsor a study on how much under-performing -- and unevaluated -- parents cost the taxpayers?

The problem with the school board to me is that they all seem to have political or career aspirations and treat the school board as a jumping off point. Wynde carving out a position in the district for himself then leaving the board to take the position. Reagan standing up and talking about the passage of the bond at the Multnomah County Democrat's party on election night. The school district is just a tool for them. A sort of proving ground for their political goals.

Disgusting.

Also, perhaps the PBA should sponsor a study on how much under-performing -- and unevaluated -- parents cost the taxpayers?

Don't stop there Ted. When you identify the under-performing parents include their party registration.

What does it say if the "under-performing parents" of public school children actually vote in disproportionately high numbers for the Teachers Union Party?

"What does it say if the 'under-performing parents' of public school children actually vote in disproportionately high numbers for the Teachers Union Party?"

That disproportionately high numbers of under-performing parents support the teacher's union? Was there a point in there somewhere? And I don't even know you mean by voting "for the Teachers Union Party." I've never seen that affiliation on any ballot I've gotten; where do you live?

For 30 years we've been asking teachers for a workable method of accountability. They refuse to suggest one and they reject all (ALL) other suggestions.

Yeah, some households are low income and the parents aren't handling life very well. We have a solution for that. It's the public school system.

Teachers can't just walk away from that job by blaming low income parents.

Thank you, Mike, for articulating explaining the problem with accountability for teachers. You think teachers are substitute for parent who aren't "handling life very well." Let's pretend that I agree.

What methods have been proposed to evaluate or ensure accountability for being a substitute parent? Why haven't those methods been applied to evaluating parents?

Personally, I don't think teachers are there to replace parents, certainly not after primary school. Before we hold the teachers accountable, we need hold the parents accountable. We're not going to do that, so don't think we need to that for teachers either.

Y'all are assuming that Carole and the OEA give rats a$$ about student performance.

I haven't seen evidence of this yet, so like PERS they'll sit mute or say "you promised" and then do nothing or offer any suggestion on how to make things better.

Vote NO on every/any bond or tax increase and send your kids to private school if you care for them.

First - So that no one is misled. The PTA is the OEA. It is, of course, the single largest component of the OEA.

Next - The OEA is a top down organization. Like the Teamsters of decades ago, it is run by staff and the rank and file are goo gloms of pathetically naive and intellectually challenged membership.

Next - the OEA runs the educrats from the State level on down. Any school "administrator" was once a teacher. And, hence, once an OEA member. The State educrat infrastructure is an adjunct operation of the OEA. For example, the Teachers Standards and Practices Commission is run by the spouse of the Oregon AFL-CIO.

Next - Oregon's public sector collective bargaining law was written by a guy who later became OEA's legal counsel of choice. He went on to become Governor Ted.

Oregon's school system, including Portland Public Schools, is an infrastructure that long abandoned effective education as its mission. Ever since the adoption of HB 3565 (a product of then House Speaker Katz - the same person who gave Portland Mayor Creepy), the mission of Oregon's public school system has been to provide full- time pay and rich benefits to marginally performing people who work less than full-time.

At some point it gets bad enough for a "singularity event." This may have just happened in Washington. The same electorate that passed marriage equality, decriminalization of marijuana, a D governor also voted to insert charter schools into the public school system. Just saying.

The teachers' apologist says:
"Before we hold the teachers accountable, we need (sic) hold the parents accountable."

Yes, that argument holds up so well for other professions that teachers love to compare themselves to...

For example:
Before we hold the doctors accountable, we need to hold the parents accountable.

Before we hold the lawyers accountable, we need to hold the parents accountable.

Before we hold the accountants accountable, we need to hold the parents accountable.

Before we hold the plumbers accountable, we need to hold the parents accountable.

Obviously, those arguments don't hold up.

We DO hold doctors, lawyers, accountants, plumbers and all other "professions" accountable with a wide variety of success metrics without consideration for any parental accountability in the equation. And yes, we even hold teachers accountable for their performance, but only in the private school environment.

The only accountability or success metric that public union teachers will accept as valid is "length of service". As if performance were judged by how many years a teacher shows up at work, capable of 'fogging a mirror'.

" Before we hold the teachers accountable, we need hold the parents accountable. We're not going to do that, so don't think we need to that for teachers either."

So because the government does not run everything, it is not responsible for running anything well? So are you arguing (A) that there is no responsibility for even attempting to ensure quality of teachers and teaching and schools; or (B) that government should have oversight and management of parents and all parenting activity?

Do either of those really make sense to you? Please tell me you're not a teacher.

"Obviously, those arguments don't hold up."

Yeah. Straw ain't what it used to be.

But I like a good hay fight, so let's compare the professions you list.

Three of those professions have well-defined duties. Their job is to heal, balance, and plumb. Dereliction or poor service/product is obvious. If you feel better, know your assets and liabilities, and can take a shower, you can reasonably evaluate the service those professionals provided to your.

But how about a lawyer? You could try to give specifics of a particular situation, like litigate,, protect, transact, negotiate, advise, settle, etc. Or you could be vague, and say something like "represent" or "serve the interests of."

The accountability in the other professions are evaluated based on the actual product or service they provide, not some analogous testing, or representational exercise; if your toilet leaks, your plumber sucks.

It's more difficult with a lawyer. if you litigate and lose, that's not a direct indication of the quality of your lawyer. Your case might just have been full of straw... If you transact, are you sure you got a good deal or that your interests were properly protected? You might not ever know.

it's even more difficult with teachers. How do you describe in detail the narrow purpose of a teacher's job? Mike thinks teachers are substitute parents? Do you think so?

How do you know if a teacher is good or not? Test their students? That's like testing the patient! I don't think anyone things the end-game of education is test-passing. I mean, I haven't taken a single science test since high school, nor a math test since college, nor a writing test since graduate school.

So, why are you suggesting that teacher's should be evaluated and held accountable via an irrelevant result?

"Please tell me you're not a teacher."

Not a teacher. Girlfriend is.

"So because the government does not run everything, it is not responsible for running anything well?"

I was responding to Mike, who thinks teachers are substitute parents. I of course agree that teachers should be accountable, and should be evaluated, and that public schools should care about their performance and do better.

Unfortunately, that's not possible right now, because people don't agree on what public schools should be doing. How do you propose evaluating a person who's duty you can't even describe, and who is expected to accomplish something that you can't measure?

This is not a particularly new problem in pedagogy. The thing that's changed is the level of animosity toward public school teachers (for any number of reasons). On the bright side, y'all haven't forced anyone to drink hemlock... yet.

"And yes, we even hold teachers accountable for their performance, but only in the private school environment."

Hmm. What metrics and methods are employed to do this? I honestly am curious how you think this is accomplished in the private school sector.

Wow, must be a fun relationship with two govt employees , a lot of drive and ambition there, must be hard to know who wears the pants...

Doctors' patients are actually tested Ted.

Public schools, and teachers indirectly, are tested by third party tests such as the SAT because "lofty" quality standards set by the public schools don't meet the expectations of parents, so we know they are failing to educate, which happens to be in their job descriptions.

I wonder what your gf thinks of charter schools as they allow for poor children to receive govt funded education at demonstrably higher success rates.

It isn't that hard to measure how effective a teacher is. I can usually tell in the first hour of a class. Sometimes you can tell in less than 5 minutes.

There are good teachers, great teachers and bad teachers. Everyone knows who the great ones are in any school as well as the bad ones.

Nobody seems to have any courage anymore to actually tell the bad ones to go find another profession. The fact that the good teachers can't figure out how to make the bad ones go away makes them all look like idiots. Add in the constant begging for money and the whole profession looks like a bunch of clowns.

Accountability in the private sector, well Ted you really gave it away with that comment, there is no chance you are gainfully employed outside of buearuaccrcy. You know how they do it? If the parents aren't happy they pull their kids out if the crappy teachers aren't fired. Typically before they lose the kids the administrators have performance metrics they use to evaluate educator performance, it's all about incentives Ted.

Pistolero is exactly right. It's all about incentives. Adding to that, the goals of public education are so ill-defined that it is hard pressed to square parents' perception of what teachers should be doing with what teachers think they should be doing.

When my kids were in school (in LO) some years ago, we had to find alternate ways to educate them on the things the schools would not or could not do that we're basic to my PPS education a generation earlier. One teacher sent one kid home with a so-called "corrected" essay with only 3 errors circled. I made my own numerous corrections and sent it back. Was the teacher just stupid? It turned out that she had a limit of 3 errors per assignment so the students would not feel bad. Feelings went before actual education and they called it self-esteem. So today it is probably the other person's feelings that are important and it is called equity. But it still isn't education.

"Wow, must be a fun relationship with two govt employees , a lot of drive and ambition there, must be hard to know who wears the pants..."

Was this directed to me? I'm not a government employee.

"Doctors' patients are actually tested Ted."

Examples? When are patients tested and the results used to evaluate the job performance of the doctor? And are those tests be directly related to the doctors's job? I'm thinking of testing whether or not an infection has resolved due to medication prescribed by the doctor.

Good SAT scores are not the goal of education. If they were, we're just send our kids to SAT prep classes and then send them out into the world.

"It isn't that hard to measure how effective a teacher is. I can usually tell in the first hour of a class. Sometimes you can tell in less than 5 minutes."

So you know it when you see it. Well, then the solution is quite easy, isn't it? Why haven't you volunteered your services to your community, and go from school to school evaluating teachers in 5 minutes to an hour.

"If the parents aren't happy they pull their kids out if the crappy teachers aren't fired."

This is really easy to do when you have parents not only have a personal investment in their kid's educations, but the school as a whole can reflect a narrowly tailored philosophy of education that draws a particular kind of parent. So your parents are more involved in the education process, and they can all congregate around a meaning of education they find acceptable.

That can't work in system that serves all comers. What about parents who won't, or can't pay for their kids? What about the parents who don't participate in the education process? What you propose, by having many small charter schools, or private schools, is simply advocating ideological segregation. Does that sound like a good social result? Let's send all the religious parents' kids to one system of education, and all rich kids to another, and all bad kids to another, all hippie kids to another, all lazy government workers' to another, Nike kids to another, and on and on. You know, why don't we just have 1-1 "charter" tutors? That way, every parent can freely educate their kid however they want!

"Typically before they lose the kids the administrators have performance metrics they use to evaluate educator performance, it's all about incentives Ted."

What metrics? I mean, it seems that only one metric is actually relevant in the private system, right? And education isn't that metric, it's parent (customer) satisfaction...

"Adding to that, the goals of public education are so ill-defined that it is hard pressed to square parents' perception of what teachers should be doing with what teachers think they should be doing."

Agreed.

"It turned out that she had a limit of 3 errors per assignment so the students would not feel bad. Feelings went before actual education and they called it self-esteem."

Hmm. Private or public school in LO? Also, I only know LO public school's by reputation, and the reports of my gf when she subbed there years ago, but I wonder if that sensitivity to self-esteem was more likely due to a pedagogical interest or cow-towing to parent interests. If the latter, I would ask how Pistolero how expects the situation to be handled? If mommy and daddy won't pay tuition if baby's feelings are hurt, it seems that the private school administrator have an *obligation* to be more sensitive to feelings, and set aside the pursuit of "education" as they (or you) see it.


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