Random reinforcement

One of the first questions before taking a lead development job in sales is, are my incentives based on things within my control? I learned early on not to even consider jobs where my commission depended on whether or not the salesperson closed the deal. “If you developed a good lead, the deal should close,” one sales manager argued with me. Uh uh. Sales people fuck up the close ALL THE TIME, ruining MY chance at MY commission. So that’s a major issue.

And that’s also why paying teachers on the basis of how the students perform is one of the stupidest, most insidious ideas the policy morons have ever come up with:

Reporting from Jacksonville, Fla.— Florida Gov. Rick Scott has signed a far-reaching teacher merit-pay bill that will overhaul how teachers across the state will be evaluated and paid.

The law creates an evaluation system that relies heavily on student test score data to judge teacher quality. For new teachers, it also creates a performance-based pay system and ends tenure-like job protections.

Florida’s merit-pay push is part of a national effort to improve education by tying teachers’ pay to their overall effectiveness.

“We are absolutely changing this country,” Scott said during the signing ceremony Thursday at a charter school in Jacksonville that aims to boost academic performance among low-income students. He was flanked by students as he put his name on the controversial measure.

Advocates say the law will help Florida schools identify top teachers, reward them financially and assign them to work with their neediest students.

But many teachers along with their statewide union, the Florida Education Assn., are opposed. They say the law will be expensive, will rely on an unproven system and won’t fairly evaluate teacher performance. The union has threatened to sue, arguing the plan tramples on teachers’ rights to collective bargaining on salaries and work conditions, among other issues.

It was quickly praised as “breakthrough legislation” and a “model of bold reform” by the foundations run by education reformer Michelle Rhee and former Gov. Jeb Bush, respectively.

But the American Federation of Teachers, a national teachers union, said it “took a wrecking ball to the dreams” of Florida’s public school students.

6 thoughts on “Random reinforcement

  1. Having taught at all levels K through college, kindergarten through lawyers and college presidents, I can assure you that “test scores” 1) do not reflect what the student has learned and 2) reflect on a teachers’ ability to teach. Case in hand and a long-time complaint of computer and information scientists: anyone can memorize the buzzwords and pass a test, or industry certification, without understanding what is going on inside a computer, computer network or The Internet, which is why “computer techs” are today a dime a dozen.
    Not too long ago I pissed off a former colleague – which I didn’t want to do because she’s cute, real blonde, forty-seven and recently divorced – when I told her she wasn’t teaching college chemistry, just as I wasn’t teaching computer science, she/we is/were teaching college competencies… a set of standardized answers to standardized tests that any bozo can memorize and pass. She knew this, but didn’t like to hear it. In retrospect, that I was “downsized” was/is a blessing – my dignity, my integrity, remains intact.
    I am often asked what I “think” of the Tea Party and I invariably respond with “late to the party”, many of their complaints have bee my complaints since Nixon! Just as I have been Taxed Enough Already – if Bank of “America”, ExxonMobil and General Electric don’t pay any taxes I don’t see where I should – there is too much interference in my grand-children’s education, too much bullshit, and as such my kids and I have agreed that I should (can and am) homeschool the grand-kids. Not that the schools here are necessarily “bad”, it’s that with the government and the reichwing religious freaks interference they just don’t teach.

  2. Oh they’re changing the country all right – for the worse as usual. They don’t see the unintended consequences (who’s going to want to teach in that environment?, for example). Secondly, i think the commenter above has it right – they’ll be an ever increasing home-school trend (with bell-curved results) since public schools are on their way out (funding problems, continual decline in teaching environment due to the aforementioned changes, etc.) and private schools will also pick up enrollment as a result, but of course they’ll be “pricey” and only available to the well-off. The rest of the population will be “on their own.”

    Like the environment and climate change – things are only going to get worse until they collapse because that’s the way of humanity, since we don’t “get it.”

  3. “they’ll” should have been “there will” above; sorry i missed it before hitting the submit button.

  4. Not providing excellent to good public education places the children of the well-to-do in a better position competively. If the wealthy cannot live in an area with outstanding public schools, they can afford the private options. The private schools are not required to meet the standardized test measurements and are thus able to encourage more creative teaching techniques, in many cases leading to students who are less regimented and more flexible and creative.

    So, for the The oilgarchy/economic aristrocracy which is being firmed up by current tax policies, this helps them retain their positions.

  5. Or…if the wealthy and well-to-do choose to not fund outstanding schools, they know they can afford private options.

    As always, some highly intelligent and self-motivated children will emerge from the lower middle and working classes, even the working poor and impoverished. It’s the somewhat less intelligent and less motivated who will not make it to the top of the heap. Again, that lessens the competition the whole range of abilites in the economic top face in their adult lives.

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