"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Is Getting Rid of "Ineffective Teachers" THE Panacea to Education Reform?

Firing all those bad teachers hasn't helped Riverview Gardens scores. Oops.

Absolutely failing students

Regarding "First day of school, report cards are in" (Aug. 14): Well, I guess all those bad teachers were not the problem at the Riverview Gardens School District after all. Since the state of Missouri hijacked the district two years ago under the auspices of No Child Left Behind, firing dozens of dedicated, experienced teachers, what has been accomplished there? Riverview Gardens' test scores are the absolute worst in St. Louis County, and the district's measurable academic achievement surpasses that of only a handful of the city's charter schools. One might suppose it's on the upswing, but the article on MAP scores tells us, "Riverview Gardens ... had a decline in the percentage of students passing communication arts, to less than 18 percent." The district has only 4 of the 10 points needed to gain accreditation.

What is going on in Riverview Gardens? This is not just "another unaccredited district," as the article identifies it, but rather a ward of the state of Missouri. The state, under the leadership of Riverview's former superintendent, Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro, is absolutely failing in its duty to the students there and needs to be held accountable for its educational neglect. This abject failure warrants more than a paragraph.

What's really behind this second year of abysmal scores that all of our state taxes are paying for?

Lisa M. Hummel • University City
Former teacher at Riverview Gardens

Riverview Gardens is now under the authority of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and appointed a 3 member board for the school's daily operation.  This district had many problems including incredible corruption by the superintendent who plead no contest on two counts of felony theft and three counts of tax fraud.    The St. Louis Post Dispatch article noted in 2010 three particular issues plagued the district: 

The 6,500-student district in north St. Louis County lost its accreditation in 2007, the result of financial problems, low student achievement and corruption.

We wonder if DESE and Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro has an answer to Ms. Hummel's question.   Should DESE and the 3 member board , like some fired teachers, be deemed "ineffective" and deserve termination?  Why are the fired "ineffective" teachers in Riverview Gardens blamed for low student achievement...and the low (and lower) student achievement still exists two years later?

Maybe Wendy Kopp's Teach for America teachers with their 5 weeks of experience haven't been as effective as hoped in Riverview Gardens to improve test scores:

Placement schools range from North County's Hazelwood, Riverview Gardens, and Normandy School Districts to more central locations like the St. Louis Public Schools.

Could we have a serious discussion from DESE, Chris Nicastro and state legislators about the reasons (note the plural of "reason"...it's not just that a school needs "great teachers") why abysmal scores are unchanged or trending downward?  Why is there only reform that creates mandates pushed by special interest groups?  These groups take money funneled through taxpayers and meanwhile, education "reform" can't move test scores for some schools.  Could it be that getting rid of the "bad" teachers isn't the only problem plaguing failing schools?


1 comment:

  1. Parents, community members, and taxpayers are more informed qnd asking hard questions on the amount of money spent on elaborate, expensive, and experimental data collection systems for essentially a human resources issue. Yeaterday, a Florida judge invalidated legislation on teacher evaluation. The ruling and findings should add more information of what else to be looking for in these bills.


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