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Institutionalizing Bad Educational Policy

12-4 School Board

Yes, I’m still alive.

No, I haven’t been bought off by Huntsville City Schools

Sorry for the long layoff, y’all. As Sting wrote once, “Everybody’s got to leave the darkness sometime.” Huntsville City Schools and the mess that our board and the superintendent have gotten us into is quite dark.

As Dr. Wardynski rather matter-of-factly stated last Tuesday, 246 teachers have retired or resigned since he arrived in July of 2011.

246.

Some context for those numbers: In 2012 we had 1,303.44 Teachers Foundation Program Units, and in 2013 that has been reduced to 1,289.34 for an average of 1,296.39.

In other words in a year and a half we’ve had just shy of 20% of our teachers either retire or resign.

I’m so happy I can’t stop crying, indeed.

According to Dr. Wardynski’s summary (which are notoriously inaccurate when the final report is actually made available) of the HR report from last Tuesday 3 more teachers have retired and 2 more have resigned.

And The Board Played On

And the board plays on, never asking why our teachers are leaving, pushing such urgent business as celebrating Dr. Wardynski MAJOR AWARD from Tech & Learning Magazine (yeah, I’ve never heard of them either) as a 2012 “Tech & Learning Leader of the Year.” (By the way, if you want to know more about who decides who wins the “Tech & Learning Leaders of the Year” all you need to do is look at the Partner Sites Link on their site. You’ll see a link to Digital Learning Environments sponsored by, drumroll please, HP. You know, the same company that we just signed a three-year, $10,624,000.00 contract with. It’s AMAZING how important you become when you sign contracts of that size, isn’t it?)

It seems that Tech & Learning Magazine received a press release from the district’s PR department citing, incorrectly, again the Superintendent’s claims that, “Teacher reports and school records show students more engaged and interested in learning, and suspensions are down 56% from last year.”

This is, of course, not an entirely accurate statement as we’ve discussed.

But that MAJOR AWARD is far more important than the 246 teachers our district has lost in the past year and a half. (Those don’t include the RIF or those teachers whose contracts are non-renewed at the end of the year, either. If you factor in those numbers that number easily doubles.)

246 since July 2011.

Non-Stop Testing is Bad Educational Policy

This goes a long way toward explaining the District’s “Continuous Improvement Framework” during which Dr. Cooper, the deputy superintendent and Debbie Miser called for the district to move away from a focus on “teaching,” and on to a focus on “student learning.”

Teaching is no longer important in education in Huntsville City Schools.

The focus instead is now on student learning with an emphasis on, you guessed it, testing. Ms. Miser said that the only way to implement the Continuous Improvement Framework is to have “testing several times during the class period.”

That’s right. Testing on yearly, or quarterly basis isn’t cutting it. Testing on a weekly basis isn’t working either.

Hell, testing on a daily basis, just isn’t enough.

Now we need testing “several times during the class period.”

In other words, if less frequent testing isn’t producing the results we want, clearly the answer then is to test constantly.

I guess Finland didn’t get that message.

Finland Ignores American “Experts” And Succeeds

In case you didn’t know, America isn’t doing so well when compared with other nations around the world. Finland, in particular, has been doing astonishingly well since 2000 on the Program for International Student Assessment. They’ve managed to move to the top of most international rankings by, you’ll never guess, doing the exact opposite of what America has done since 2000.

Where we have increased testing, they have decreased it.

Whereas the past 12 years have shown that the American method of No Child Left Behind does precisely that, Finland’s method has steadily moved it to the envy of the world.

Yet, our approach here in Huntsville, driven by people who have no educational background whatsoever, is to do the exact opposite of what is working well in other nations.

And now we’re institutionalizing this bad policy so that even if Dr. Wardynski should land one of those jobs he claims he’s not interviewing for, we’re going to be stuck with inexperienced teachers implementing bad policy of constant, insistent testing.

Because education isn’t about exposing young minds to new ideas, new technologies, new frontiers in Huntsville anymore.

It’s about testing every minute of every day.

And for that, teachers just aren’t necessary.

246 is just the beginning.

 
Russell
"Children see magic because they look for it." --Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Jesus' childhood pal.

11 Comments

  1. what they have decided to do makes entirely NO SENSE!!! do they not see the pattern? all of these teachers are leaving for a reason. a computer will not and can not teach like a person who has studied to do so. teachers will never be obsolete. even though thats what it seems like he is trying to do. oh, how i wish more people were paying attention.

    1. It’s not that people aren’t paying attention megan, it’s that the people who are paying attention are being marginalized and ignored.

      Welcome back Russ, and I fully understand the need to “escape from the darkness sometimes”, how do you think teachers, principals,and support personnel feel? I wonder how the students feel?

      1. “Because education isn’t about exposing young minds to new ideas, new technologies, new frontiers in Huntsville anymore.

        It’s about testing every minute of every day.”

        And who/what scores the test….humans….nope…..computers.

  2. How do the students feel? They are coping. They are adapting as best they can. They don’t have the time to fight what is happening…..they are just trying to keep their heads above water and survive. They are doing what they are being told to do with whatever resources they are being given. Becasue this system was just recently forced on us, we don’t yet know the effects it is having or will have on our kids. This is exactly why I asked at one Board meeting, are there any lessons learned or documented metrics as to the results of this “teaching” methodology that we can look at? I am all for injecting the laptop as a tool in the learning process, but we certainly need to do our best to repeal what Wardynski has done and manage this process better. First, we need to remove laptops and iPads from elementary school kids. During these formative years, they need to interact with a teacher, not solely a computer. They need to learn how to learn. They need to understand the social learning environment, interact, engage in dialogue, ask questions, and establish work and study habits they will need in later school years. The fact that Wardynski emphasized the importance of getting the kids into the technological age “because that is how the world works today” is completely ludicrous. The bottom line is this: Laptops in the classroom are a distraction to learning. I have heard from teachers (and my own kids) that surfing the web and playing games during class time is rampant. I was even told that students can indeed access porn sites at the school. No matter how smart the administration is with their filters, they need to understand just how savvy these kids are today. I am with my teenager to the school and I want to see if this is indeed true. If they can show me how they circumvent the filters, I will be bringing this up at the School Board meeting. Stay tuned………..

  3. SACS “show and tell” at Grissom yesterday…guess everyone followed the script. Doubt SAC staff will be/was told the entire truth about the 1:1 digital initiative and its impact on student achievement

  4. Funny, just this morning my second grader was complaining that they spent way too much time on their iPads during the day and wanted to know why the teacher wasn’t teaching, the computer was!!

  5. I wonder if staring at a computer screen all day, then at night when they do their homework will affect students’ eye?

  6. There are studies that absolutely DO show that this is harmful to eyesight. But do you think the school Board cares? Of course not.

  7. Where do all these “companies,” educational organizations, whatever they are, that constantly laud Wardynski over the great job he’s done in “turning Huntsville schools around.” Are they legitimate entities, or has the board invented them for PR purposes? I think it’s Chanel 19 that just waxes euphoric over Col. Wardynski as they relate yet another ringing endorsement for how far Huntsville schools have advanced in just one year, even comparing Huntsville Schools on a national basis. That’s well & good, but WHO ARE THESE “organizations”? Are they legitimate educational organizations – like do they have a street address, a telephone number to verify their existence? The proof will be in the pudding: ACT & SAT scores,

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