Teacher Career Ladder, One Teachers Take

Filed in Uncategorized by on March 9, 2015 0 Comments

Sometimes we hear so much about the standards, assessments and data collecting that I think we forget there are two more pillars involved in the Common Core reform package.  four pillars of ed takeover tem

The third pillar is  Teacher Accountability Measures.  It’s right there along with the other three pillars in all our major documents:  The State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, Race to the Top and our ESEA waiver.

Tomorrow morning in the House Education Committee they will be hearing H222,  this 30 page piece of legislation meets the Federal requirements laid out in the previously mentioned documents.

Below are the thoughts of a teacher-who shall remain anonymous- regarding the Career Ladders legislation.

In regards to H222, the Idaho Career Ladder bill, it is hard to know where to even start. Somewhere along the line, legislators have become convinced that the more hoops a teachers has to jump through in order to advance in their career, the better they will teach. In reality, the more hoops they have to jump through, the less time they have to devote to their students which is what I thought their focus should be on. 

When I started teaching over 15 years ago, I did it because I loved working with kids. That love started because of an Idaho teacher who mentored me at a small district here in Idaho. We had  some lousy teachers when I was in school, to be sure, but there were  also great ones, but that is the case in all professions.  Looking back, I can guarantee that the lousy teachers would have focused on all of these hoops and been at the top of the career ladder. That’s the type of teachers they were. Those few who made a difference? Knowing them, and I still know them, they most likely would have left for careers where they could make a difference. Under the career ladder, they would not have been able to focus on me as a person as they would have been too busy filling out forms and turning me into a number. I am grateful that I grew up in Idaho in a time where as a student, I was seen as a person and not a data-point. 

After graduating at the top of my class, I left Idaho on a scholarship and earned my teaching license in another state. I have taught elementary through high school in three states as well as overseas. In none of those locations were career ladders used. In all of them, I saw good teachers who cared about kids. Good teachers who were paid very little. 

Some of the greatest teachers I have ever seen were great because they learned on the job from other teachers s. This career ladder focuses more on evaluations by administrators and an outside group than on teachers working together.   I will tell you that I spent 3 1/2 years working toward my education degree and learned a fraction of what I learned from my master teacher when I did my student teaching. She was amazing and that is the semester that I learned everything about teaching. My college education classes were theory. Student teaching made me the teacher I am. To this day, I go to my peers and ask for advice. I learn from those I know are successful when I want to try something new. I would  much prefer to travel the state learning from those who are experts at something new than sitting in a class in Boise for hours discussing theory. But learning from others on the job won’t advance me on the career ladder, so back to college I will go if this passes. I will probably choose a new career. 

As to my students, I have always cared about them and always done my best to teach them. Teaching to the test is something I will never do. But there are those who will under this system, and the students will lose out. When teachers teach to the test, they teach nothing else. Especially when the tests are set up for them to fail, as tests like the SBAC(or ISAT.2) are. When teachers teach to the test, they miss those moments that inspire. I don’t recall any of the actual lessons my favorite teacher taught me, although I know she knew her subject matter. I do remember what she inspired me to do. And that is worth more than any score on a test.  My students might not remember the math I taught them, although I hope they do. They might not remember how tough I was on their writing. They might not remember all of the hard work they put in during the year that I had them. But I sure hope that they remember how much I cared for them. I hope they remember the inspiration that I gave them to use their talents in life. I hope they remember that I believed in them and that they can succeed. I hope they remember that they were more to me than a number on a test.  

If the Career Ladder passes, many Idaho teachers will begin to perform by jumping through hoops for the State. Or, they may decide to move on to a career where they are appreciated. If you want to do something meaningful, raise teacher salaries with no strings attached. The experts say that then we will have highly paid, bad teachers. They are wrong. Think for a moment about what will happen if teachers are paid well. It will become a sought-after profession. The best of the best will go into education. Schools, large and small, will be able to afford to hire the best. Those teachers who are already the best will be kept by their districts. Those who aren’t so great, well, there will be plenty of quality applicants lined up to take their places when they are let go. Leave the decisions of who to hire and who advances up to the local school. But pay the teachers enough that people are fighting for those jobs. Make teaching a profession that we can be proud of once again, as opposed to the one that everyone blames. Aren’t are kids worth that? 

 

Please contact the House Education Committee, ask them to please say no to H222.  It’s not good for Idaho kids or Idaho teachers.

Hedu@house.Idaho.gov

Reedd@house.Idaho.gov (Committee Chairman and author of the bill.)

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