Despite the perky name, Race to the Top is a marathon—and a potentially grueling one; to win, states must take a series of steps that are considered radical in the see-no-evil world of education, where teachers unions have long fought efforts to measure teacher performance based on student test scores and link the data to teacher pay. States must try to identify great teachers, figure out how they got that way, and then create more of them. “This is the wave of the future. This is where we have to go—to look at what’s working and what’s not,” Duncan told me. “It sounds like common sense, but it’s revolutionary.”
—What Makes a Great Teacher, The Atlantic
Looking ahead to my own career in education, quotes like these worry me. I know I want to be a good teacher, a teacher who makes a difference (don’t we all?). I know that there are a lot of apathetic teachers out there, and some who may not be uncaring but still fail to teach well. The question that I ask is, “how do we get these kids motivated to do well on the standardized tests?” The teacher could win best of the year award, but the students could still care less about doing well on a standardize test. Are students’ performances on these tests really the best way to pay teachers and “weed out” the bad ones?
Furthermore, what I currently consider to be a band aid program, Teach for America, is what this article is calling as their authority on the matter. Yes, Teach for America is trying to send out qualified people to teach students, to send teachers and young blood where there is strife and apathy. And sometimes their teachers stay. But the program’s requires workers to stay only a few years, perpetuating the high-turn-over rates that hurt students too.
I don’t mean to suggest that this article or Teach for America is all bad. No. This article focuses on the research that Teach for America has done, including looking at how a teacher-to-be’s extracurricular activities in college can “predict greatness”.
I’ll write more, but please share your thoughts with me. I’m not set on one thing or another. Our country needs an education revolution. I’m worried that my future job will only get more stressful and less productive. I want to make a difference, not face the gallows. Flicker Photo from Teach_For_America_27
I’ll add more commentary later.