Oct 20 2011
06:33 am

NPR has a report on teacher evaluations under the Race to the Top program. "Now many teachers say they are struggling to shine, and that's torpedoing morale."

GSD's picture

Knox County teachers are

Knox County teachers are demoralized, frustrated, and frightened for their jobs by this incomplete, one-size-fits-all evaluation system which was rushed into service as public education in TN was gleefully sacrificed at the altar of the almighty federal dollar (Race To The Top).

Ironically, these federal dollars appear to have actually made it to very few classrooms, with much of the money being gobbled up for paperwork, training, and personnel related to the evaluation system itself!

The corporate backed "reformers" and for-profit privatizers are chomping at the bit to feast on the carnage which will be wrought.

I am not surprised that our own Dr. "slick Jimmy" Mcintyre, with his ties to the Broad Foundation and other corporate-backed think tanks, was a key performer in this deal with the devil as well as a key proponent in the implementation of the new TEAM evaluation system.

And I'm sure no one at our own Central Office is shedding any tears for the experienced, veteran teachers who are retiring in droves in response to this nonsense. Those "old" teachers are a bit of a drag on the bottom line and the "exorbitant" salaries some of them draw could be put to much better use, like creating positions for more Central Office consultants, liaisons, coordinators, coaches, supervisors, court jesters, etc...., . I'm also sure our Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman (also an Eli Broad-backed "reformer" and ex-husband to infamous self-promoting, teacher-firing, test-cheating corporate reformist edu-huckster Michelle Rhee) certainly has his old coworkers at Teach For America ready to send in their their two-year-contract "recruits" to replace those old (and expensive), ineffective (and expensive), has-been (and expensive), public school teachers with much LESS expensive, inexperienced, untrained non-educators eager to polish up their resumes before quickly scooting out to a guaranteed job in the financial sector.

This post on the NPR website raises some really good points:

"The Milken Foundation developed the teacher evaluations in TN yet have produced no peer reviewed evidence of its efficacy. Their white papers are sent to media outlets- not scientific journals - as a marketing tool to advance their edu-business.

Further, Angela Engel in Colorado ties together education and the Wall Street connection here: (link...)

Citizens and journalists should ask why are ex-fraudsters like the Milkens, corporate executives, wealthy entrepreneurs, and Wall Street investors suddenly interested in public education? "Because they like to make money and recent education reforms along with "new tax credits" and Education Management Organizations, EMO's, have provided ample opportunity to make a dollar.(Engel)"

I urge NPR and others interested to read a 2002 article in The American Prospect " The Resurrection of Michael Milken" that covers "Junk Bond King" Michael's epiphany after serving time in federal prison for financial fraud.
"...the role of his think tank, the Milken Institute, raises questions about where rehabilitation ends and self-promotion begins."

Min's picture


...stating the obvious, one broadcast at a time. Teacher morale was already demoralized when teachers lost their representatives on the state pension committee, lost their right to bargain, and lost any realistic chance of getting tenure, all courtesy of the legislature. Frankly, I'm waiting for them to get over being demoralized and start getting mad enough to do something other than whine about it.

GSD's picture

Respectfully, Min, what would

Respectfully, Min, what would your suggestion for action be?

I agree very strongly that teachers should DO something, but even "whining" (which I see more as simply expressing their frustration in as non-confrontational a manner as possible in order to prevent being fired) tends to get them "on the radar" of Central Office, and from there it's a short ride to being reported in the Sentinel as "being investigated" for some type of "conduct". Of course, our teachers want to remain employed in order to support their families, but they also want to stay in the classroom and fulfill the calling which led them to become teachers in the first place.

Public school teachers in this state have had what "protection" they had in terms of collective bargaining or "union support" stripped away, and under the new TEAM evaluation will soon have the protection of Due Process (for-cause termination as opposed to arbitrary termination) vanish as well - at least for all teachers but the 10 % predicted to score higher than a "3" on the TEAM rubric each year. Score a 2.9, bye-bye to due-process protection and, next year, bye-bye to YOU. In the meantime, the 1st-year teacher replacements and Teach For America short term recruits will be lining up to take their places, but will not stay long enough (by design) to achieve tenure, question policy, become vested in the state retirement program, or become "expensive" on the salary scale. Again, not an environment for "taking action" - at least on the part of those experienced enough to see what is wrong within the system.

"Taking Action" pretty much guarantees unemployment in the public school system, especially one which is run as autocratically as ours. Not a good thing to face when there are no jobs out there.

Speaking up about what is wrong, even tentatively, (call it "whining" if you wish), may at least begin a dialogue about the wrongheadedness of this new evaluation process in order to correct what is wrong and MAYBE even reach the ears of those officials responsible for it's implementation. I think there is plenty of room in the middle between "shut up and take it" and "Take action" and be silenced (AND jobless).

Min's picture

For one...

...they should start organizing around the committee meetings on Nov. 1 & 2, so they can pack those meetings out. For another, they should start voter registration and vote ID drives now, so they can vote out the bastards who did this to them in 2012. And they should stand up to the people in their churches and communities whose ignorance about what is really going on in public education informs way too much of the public debate.

'"Taking Action" pretty much guarantees unemployment in the public school system, especially one which is run as autocratically as ours.'

**shrug** Anyone who is unwilling to fight for something better deserves to be oppressed. That kind of cowardice and unwillingness to get involved is what got us in this mess in the first place.

GSD's picture

Sounds good. Happy to be on

Sounds good. Happy to be on a local media blog where people can be civil, intelligent, respectful, and productive.

I would very much like to see your suggestions followed.

I also agree with your final paragraph. I think that, when teachers DID have a "voice" representing them in the form of KCEA and TEA, the weak (if any) effort these agencies put into meaningful resistance to bad policy in order to avoid "rocking the boat" very much contributed to their present "shut out of the game" status.

Thank you, Min, for the discussion!

Min's picture


The reason TEA and KCEA were not more successful in stopping this latest waive of anti-public education activities is that the membership wanted things done for them, rather than taking the responsibility to be part of the process. Republicans love to call the teachers association a "union", but teachers have not, until their very livelihoods were threatened (and then only some of them), been willing to act like a union.

Let's be realistic...teachers were clearly part of the voting blocks who put these anti-public education representatives in the General Assembly, because they either voted on the basis of issues that were not in their own professional self-interest or the interests of public schoolchildren, or they couldn't be bothered to learn who the Association had vetted as pro-public education candidates.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

TN Progressive

TN Politics

Local TV News

News Sentinel

State News

Local .GOV

Wire Reports

Lost Medicaid Funding

To date, the failure to expand Medicaid/TennCare has cost the State of Tennessee ? in lost federal funding. (Source)

Search and Archives