Monday, September 17, 2012

Irrational to Blame Teachers for All Ed Problems

There was an excellent column in the Tampa Bay Times today by John Romano explaining the absurdity of placing all of the blame for student performance on teachers. Do we scapegoat police officers for high crime? Did we scapegoat our wonderful soldiers during the struggles in Iraq and Afghanistan? Do we blame doctors and dietitians for our country's obesity problem? No. Because in all of those circumstances, other factors that are beyond those parties' control are at play. Why can't teachers be held in the same regard?

Here is an excerpt of the column:

Simple question:
Is it Gov. Rick Scott's fault that Florida is far below the national average pay scale for teachers?
Follow-up question:
Is it the state Legislature's fault that Florida is 42nd in the nation in average spending per student?
Upon hearing those questions, I would suspect most reasonable people would have the same answer:
Of course not.
You cannot look at numbers in a vacuum and come up with indisputable conclusions. The reality is more complex. The truth is more nuanced. Some problems are inherited, and some issues transcend policy decisions.
So if we agree raw numbers are not always the definitive measure of job performance, let me ask you something else:
Why do the governor and Legislature insist on blaming Florida's teachers for low standardized test scores?
Shouldn't the same rules of common sense and fairness apply? Shouldn't factors beyond a teacher's control be considered? Shouldn't our politicians at least acknowledge the possibility that the underfunding of schools is a major factor?

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