26 February 2010

Letter From State Superintendent Randy Dorn

On February 23rd, partnership4learning.org posted a newsletter with a letter written by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn. In this letter he says things like, "We know Washington is starting behind many other states, but we are up to the task the Obama Administration has set before us and believe that, with the political will and several critical reforms, our state could lead the nation with an education system that prepares all its students for the challenges of tomorrow." What he is referring to is the $4.35 billion Race to the Top grant presented by the Obama Administration.

Now, I am not going to take the time in this post to express my political agenda, or look at this politically. I am from the school of thought that politics hinder the education process. I think we need to empower the teachers, and give them a clear ending point, and help them get there. Supt. Dorn does state a few elements that the grant/legislation will need in order to have success. The one I want to point out here is:

A significant portion of the teacher and principal evaluation system must include multiple measures of student academic growth. If we are serious about closing the achievement gap, we need to make sure teachers and principals are first, supported to address the diverse learning needs in our schools and classrooms, and then, evaluated and held accountable for the academic growth of every student.

He goes on to explain a plan that offers support to teachers whose students to not reach the state standards as opposed to reducing their funding. He offers up a safety net that can benefit tenured and starting teachers alike. If you do not meet the standard you are given support, and if you do not succeed three years after that with the added support and training, then you are just not cut out to be a teacher. Clear and concise. I knew there was a reason I voted for this guy. Let's give teachers MORE training when they struggle, not LESS funding. Dorn says, "We need to make sure we are giving all teachers and principals the opportunity to grow and providing those who do not, an expedient way out of our schools." Amen.

Here's the link to the letter, and be sure to check out http://www.partnership4learning.org/

14 February 2010

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

The light at the end of my tunnel is my Master's Degree.  I've been moving towards this finish for a little over four years solid.  My hope is that I'm ready for the end of this chapter of my life.  However, I trust that the light at the end of this tunnel is not a train that will level me.  I have had three friends who have finished their teacher certification only to not be teaching within three years after wards.  I don't want to go off into a tantrum about teacher pay, but I think a bit of a discussion on the process is necessary. 

I feel like I could jump into a classroom and I'd be able to survive.  Student teaching should be a sink-or-swim system with a mentor teacher in the same department.  That may sound harsh, but a do-or-die scenario with a paycheck doesn't bring this same ominous hype of needing to succeed and survive after spending three months unpaid in someone else's room.  You have their classroom management and not your own.  You have their organization, and not your own.  Then, after three months of being unpaid and coddled, you are thrown into the lion's den and expected to accomplish your caseload, classroom management, organization, etc... on your own. 

I FEEL ready... I just HOPE that I am.