Wednesday, December 05, 2012

You Get What You Pay For

Those of us who ply their trade in education are watching acase being tried in Austin before Judge John Dietz, a judge who is no stranger to school funding issues.

At issue is whether the state has properly provided enough funds to adequately educate Texas schoolchildren, but there appears to be some side issues.

One of the side issues was being discussed today with testimony of Duke University professor Dr. Jacob Vigdor. Vigdor claims that the quality of Texas’ education is at risk because the state refuses to pay its teachers enough money to make teaching an attractive profession among those who are qualified to teach them.

The implication is that teachers in Texas are substandard ones because who would teach students for such low wages, and that means that students in Texas will receive a substandard education.

Unfortunately, such statements reach the ears of parents who then look at their children’s teachers with poor regard.

This statement is also voiced in a most annoying commercial by ExxonMobil that professes that the best way to improve education is to educate these stupid teachers.

It even got worse in court proceeding as the argument became that teachers should be better paid so as to attract better teachers. One of the defense lawyers wondered if it wasn't a waste of money to spend it on a teacher who didn't produce results "and not getting what you paid for?"

Now the reason I hate all of this is that these arguments are being made with no discernible studies on performance in Texas schools when all you have to do is ask a teacher why there is a decline in education in Texas, and it has nothing to do with pay scale or teacher education.

It’s all about NCLB and accountability through high stakes testing.

But no, it’s easier to blame teachers and their poor education than a system of accountability that has single-handedly destroyed education in Texas.

You know, if only you were to take all the funds that goes toward managing the accountability system including some very high-end salaries, and all the test development done by contractors and all the testing materials that are paid for year after year – this is a billion dollar industry – and allow teachers to teach again, I think it might be possible to reverse this downward trend.

And maybe teachers will not be disrespected by nearly anyone anymore.

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