National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia was in Nashville today to kickoff American Education Week.
While in town, the visited Shwab Elementary where she toured the school and served as a guest teacher in a first grade classroom.
After the tour and class visit, Garcia was available to the media.
Here are some highlights of what she had to say:
On education policymaking:
“Policymakers should respect educators. We don’t need top-down management of teachers. We need to trust teachers and treat them like professionals. When we begin trusting teachers and providing them with resources, we’ll unleash a true revolution education.”
On Common Core:
Garcia says she was initially a Common Core skeptic. But says she reviewed the standards for 6th grade, which she taught, and found them to be reasonable. She said Common Core is and should be a state initiative.
“Common Core belongs to the states and states should adapt it to meet their needs. In order for Common Core to work, we need to get back to trusting teachers. Common Core sets the standard. Teachers should decide how to meet those standards. Where Common Core has failed, it is because of top-down management. Implementation must include teachers and trust teachers to meet the standards.”
On Value-Added Modeling:
“Voodoo value-added models are silly. They are silly because the voodoo formula can’t control for factors like poverty that impact kids. They can’t control for the fact that a kid may be hungry or may be an English Language Learner taking a test in English instead of their native language.
“I was the Utah Teacher of the Year. I know that kids are more than a test score. I’m not afraid of evaluation, I welcome it. Data can be helpful, but high-stakes use of value-added data is not appropriate.”
On NEA’s Education Agenda:
“NEA wants to end No Child Left Untested,” Garcia said. “2014 is the magic year when all kids were supposed to be proficient. Now, we’ve got a waiver process because that goal is simply not possible with human students. This just shows that NCLB was a fraud.
“NEA wants the federal government to set standards and provide resources and then listen to teachers and local communities.”
On Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander’s Agenda with the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee:
“NEA shares common ground with Sen. Alexander on the need for local control and an end to the waiver process for NCLB. We also agree with him on the need to focus more on National Board Certification for teachers.
“Where we differ with Sen. Alexander is on his push for privatization, whether it be vouchers or charters. If Sen. Alexander respects science and data, he’ll see that charters and vouchers simply don’t work.”
On creating an “all-choice” zone in East Nashville:
Garcia said she wasn’t familiar with the specifics of the East Nashville plan, but said, “Whenever you see people pushing grand plans to expand charters, they’re just not reading the research. The research shows that charters aren’t any better than district schools.”
She also suggested that the few charter success stories happen as a result of significant outside money being poured in. “If districts saw that kind of money coming into their schools, they’d see a difference, too.”
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