I’ve written some about the challenges of the new Pre-K/Kindergarten portfolios and the frustration that is creating for our teachers.
Nashville blogger TC Weber has also picked up on this issue and writes about how the process is demoralizing to our teachers. Here’s some of what he has to say:
I am not going to pretend to have a full grasp of any of this process. While I understand that I am not a professional educator, I believe that education policy needs to be written in a manner that can be grasped by parents and this policy, and subsequently DOE communication, fails that test. I also believe that this process is entirely too labor intensive. Even though the window to file grievances has been extended to October, is this really where a teacher’s attention needs to be focused at the start of school?
Some have pointed out that this is a trial year and that scores won’t actually count against teachers. That may be true officially, but do you know anybody that would be comfortable under any circumstances with a 1 on their record? Secondly, unofficially those scores are out there and there is nothing to protect teachers from opinions being formed based on those scores.
Business long ago realized that there are only a limited number of hours in the day. That’s why when you go to buy a car, the salesman is focused solely on the sale. He’s not completing your credit check, or your loan application, nor is he completing the final sale paperwork. The most effective salesman are focused on only one thing, selling the product. Everything else distracts from the primary objective. Why can’t we provide that same consideration to teachers. Instead ion just being allowed to teach, they are continually forced to devote as much time to proving they are teaching as they are actually teaching.
READ MORE from TC on this issue.
As TC points out, the DOE’s response to all the frustration over the portfolios has been to blame the teachers. This teacher blaming happened just as school was getting ready to start. So, if your child’s Kindergarten teacher seems a little extra stressed this year, it’s likely because the state is pushing down a narrative that blames that teacher for what was, at best, a very flawed evaluation process.
One other item worth noting is the issue of compensation for those teachers who reviewed the Pre-K/K portfolios. While my initial reporting on this topic indicated teachers were paid $500 for reviewing (for 45 or more hours of work), I’ve now heard from teachers in multiple districts who were reviewers and who have yet to receive promised compensation.
First, let me say that $500 is not enough compensation for what ended up being incredibly demanding work. At best, we’re talking about $11 an hour. Next, let me say that withholding payment for whatever reason is unacceptable.
It seems that some districts went ahead and paid teachers based on the promise of state funds while others are still waiting for those funds to arrive before stipends are paid. But let’s be clear: The responsibility for this failure lies with the Tennessee Department of Education.
Let me make this comparison because I like football and because football season coincides with the start of school. As teams get ready for that first official game, they want their players absolutely focused on getting the job done. Whatever their role, coaches and programs want the team members ready to do the job. No distractions. Ohio State, a perennial top 5 team, is facing a distraction right now because of their coach. No matter how it ends up, this type of distraction, just as a season is about to start, throws off the rhythm of preparation. It takes away from being the best.
Now, think about that in comparison to being a Tennessee teacher. You’ve gotten questionable TNReady results and if you’re teacher under the portfolio system, you’ve been told mistakes were made and they’re all your fault.
This is not the playbook of a leader focused on winning.
For more on education politics and policy, follow @TNEdReport