Anti-teacher groups get failing grade from teacher of the year

Anti-teacher groups get failing grade from teacher of the year

by Laura Clawson

Michigan’s teacher of the year has been taken up by StudentsFirst and the Mackinac Center as part of their campaign against teachers unions. But he’s not on board with their corporate education policy agenda, Eclectablog reports.

The Koch brothers-funded, ALEC-affiliated Mackinac Center and Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst have been blasting around teacher of the year Gary Abud’s salary, emphasizing that it’s below average in his district—he has only been teaching for six years—and claiming that unions are keeping good teachers down. But Abud tells Eclectablog that “I know how contracts are structured and that I’m newer in this field. In many fields entry level is lower than veteran level on compensation packages. In almost every field, I would imagine.” He notes that when he worked in biomedical research, people’s salaries went up as they spent longer on the job, too.

So Abud is definitely not joining the Mackinac Center and StudentsFirst in pushing the idea that his below-average salary is a reason to support a bill that would base teacher salaries primarily on “job performance.” And if you know anything about how corporate education policy groups want to measure job performance, you know why Eclectablog has labeled this the “‘Teach to the Test’ Teacher Pay Act.”

Not only does Gary Abud not back that teacher pay bill, he strongly questions the kind of test-based assessment that groups like the Mackinac Center and StudentsFirst are pushing. Come below the fold for the Michigan teacher of the year’s thoughts on teaching and standardized testing.

Abud says:

You’ll see that in some classrooms only one methodology or one approach is being taken when we know that there are many different ways for information to be learned. A best practice is known to use multiple representations. So, first and foremost, I would suggest that a model for evaluating teachers has to include whether or not they are implementing research-based best practices in their classroom.

The second thing is related to student achievement. However, student achievement measurements have to be differentiated for the student population that you’re in front of. […]

What I think happens in the standardized testing situation is that we look at the absolute gain as being the measurement or the yardstick rather than, perhaps, a subjective gain that’s relative to the students before and after the instruction or relative to student population that’s in a specific classroom or school based on their learning needs

Not only that, Abud is advocating for greater training and support for teachers—both things that groups like StudentsFirst think are dispensable. And he’ll have the chance to speak up for his positions as a non-voting member of the state Board of Education for the next year.



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