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.
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.”
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.
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.