We liked the posting today on Eduwonkette's blog shown as a link on the right here because it makes some of the same points about New Yorks reforms that we make below in relation to DC.
Three of us from the "Teachers and Parents for Real Education Reform" initiative met with Special Assistant to the Chancellor Jason Kamras and Deputy Chancellor Kaya Henderson Dec.18 to share our concerns about important reforms being designed in DCPS. Our bias -- that system support for improvement in the quality of teaching and learning is needed. But we aren't sure the focus is there yet in Rhee's reforms. The meeting was candid, and concrete. Among the suggestions we made:
1. Efforts to re-design the teacher evaluation system needs to utilize national experts to get it right, and needs to be collaborative to ensure buy-in. A credible, not secretive, process is crucial.
2. Recent involvement of AFT with the WTU and DCPS is a step forward.
3. There needs to be a "framework" that defines skillful teaching that teachers and administrators can study and that gives the whole conversation about the quality of teaching and learning legitimacy and serves as the basis for evaluating teachers.
4. Professional development needs to stop being random acts in each school. We need a comprehensive program of professional development that promotes a clear conception of what good teaching looks like. Teaching is rocket science.
5. The symbolism of the Chancellor with a broom and the emphasis on cleaning house is demoralizing to the best teachers, in part because it is absent a clear definition of what good teaching is.
6. Downtown DCPS must own some responsibility for the demoralizing lack of improvement in the conditions of teaching and learning -- eg: discipline and truancy issues, instability in student enrollment that charters and school closings have exacerbated, schedule mismanagement, materials of instruction deficits.
7. Equating the quality of teaching with student test scores on the DC CAS is insulting to teachers, and amounts to accountability to a proxy for learning rather than the act of teaching and learning itself.
8."Red and green" salary schedules make no sense and has become a distraction and an obstacle to reform aimed at improving teaching and learning.
We look forward to further conversation with Henderson and Kamras. Multiple eyes, ears, and voices will be needed to help get it right.