Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I'm One of the Worst Teachers in My State


I didn’t think I’d like teaching, but instantly loved it when I gave it a shot; and was immediately acclaimed as having a natural affinity for it.  I love the children, learning, and seeing them learn and grow.  I work tirelessly to give them engaging experiences that bring learning to life. 

In the past decade, I have been greatly moved and honored to win numerous awards and been nominated for more still.  My curriculum night presentations are always standing room only, because I’m the funny teacher who is going to make that half hour come to life with hands-on science, leaving them running to administration to sing my praises. 

I initiated and continue to run the chess and drama clubs with no remuneration.  I do get a small stipend for being the academic games coordinator, running the Mathletes team and spelling bee for the school, along with keeping the staff and students informed of enrichment opportunities like academic competitions.  I organize the field trips for my grade level and a trip for 4th and 5th graders to spend three days at an oceanographic institute in the Florida Keys.

My own 5th grade gifted students will end this year with a full understanding of three Shakespearean plays, as class sets of these and other texts were secured through my Donors Choose requests.  Saturday, I’ll be the designated representative picking up free materials for my school.  I write the full year’s lesson plans over the summer (then tweaking as I go).

All of this is highly pleasurable to me, as my efforts pay off in children happily learning at high levels.  Like so many of us here, I’m a doer, always thinking what more I can bring to my school and my students.  Two years ago, I was lauded for my students receiving extremely high state test scores. 

So, I hope you will excuse me if I’m a little grumpy that my name will be printed in newspapers and posted online as an inferior teacher in need of serious improvement. 

Last year, many of my students had had the highest scores on the state tests possible the year prior—a 5 out of 5.  That’s how they get in to my class of gifted and high achieving students.   Except, last year, they raised the bar so that the same 5th graders who scored 5s in 4th grade were much less likely to earn 5s in math and reading in 5th grade.  Some still DID score 5s in math AND reading, yet were still deemed not to have made sufficient progress because they did not score as high within the 5 category as they had the year before. 

It’s like expecting the members of an Olympic pole vaulting team to all individually earn gold medals every time the Olympics come around, regardless of any other factors affecting their lives, with the bar raised another five inches each go around.  In a state where 40% of students pass the 5th grade science test, 100% of my students passed; but no one (at the state level) cares about science scores. 

Therefore, I suck.  A media outlet filed a lawsuit to have the right to publish the names and scores of teachers, because the people have the right to know which teachers are excellent and which teachers suck.  Now they know.  They won’t understand.  I don’t understand.  None of it makes any sense.  But, they’ll know, as my name will be associated with teachers who just can’t deliver, with no regard for actual learning, for instilling the love of learning, for high scores on observations…  None of it matters.

A teacher in California committed suicide a few years back after his name was published in the papers for the same reasons.  I don’t take it nearly that seriously; but it’s still an affront, and just one of many reasons so many of us throw in the towel rather than take the nonsensical abuses that come with teaching.  I keep hoping common sense will kick in and start reversing the negative trends in education.  For the children, their families, and for the teachers—who are actual people, usually with our own families and serious concerns about education.

I keep hoping…

163 comments:

  1. WOW.. this is ridiculous and yet I know exactly what you talk about... wish they would publish even part of the good stuff.. but NO>>>>>> and to think some of these central administrators get paid to invent this process!

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  2. Please, please, please. Send your blog posts as submissions to newspapers. Letters to the Editor types of deals. They do it for students so why not for teachers?

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    1. Amen!! Please do get them published!!

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    2. lease get this published! PLEASE!!! Sadly, because I was in your SAME predicament last year, I couldn't even STAND to "fail" another year as an educator so I resigned. I am no longer teaching...after only 5 years. I understand EXACTLY how you feel. You are NOT alone!

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    3. I wouldn't trust the newspapers to publish her letters. They get "managed" in ways we "commoners" don't know.
      Send them en masse to news outlets: NATIONAL outlets -- newspaper, television (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX) give BIG outlets a chance.
      All of us teachers need to do this. I'm leaving as soon as I turn 60 if not at the end of this year... I am nothing as organized, talented, etc, as Simone Ryals, but I DO know that my teaching is coming undone for trying to do the Dog and Pony show, because they really DO want us to leave. What better way to save money than to have all 0 to 5 years teachers -- always paying entry-level salaries, Teacher Retirement systems never having to pay out anything more than "face value" to teachers who leave before they're vested (10 years in GA), and, yet, using those funds to earn money while the "grunts" are in the field.
      You want a conspiracy theory??? There's your conspiracy theory!

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  3. I am so frustrated with all of this. I have No words except for many unprofessional ones.

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  4. Thank you for sharing and I have shared in Manatee... I am a parent!

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  5. Join the club, I suck too. Only, I'm a 3rd grade teacher in Florida, so my VAM scores are really an average of my entire team (9 other teachers) and even though my scores were awesome, unfortunately that doesn't get recognized. So my inaccurate VAM will be out there for everyone to see and judge. I too don't take it seriously. Maybe when every parent gets evaluated on their performance too, then I might take it seriously.

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  6. Thanks to everyone for helping to get the message out that the system is flawed. It's not news, but I don't think a lot of people outside the profession are aware of the specifics.

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    1. I think that this is news to people outside of our profession. They just don't realize it. Surely there is a newspaper who would run your post. People need to know both sides of the story. Good luck to you!

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    2. I realize it all too well. I am the parent of a 13 year old gifted child whose grades this year are the in toilet. If schools cared more about teachers like you Ms. Ryals, instead of just those stupid freakin' goverment standards, then maybe we can move forward in education. I applaud you for your bravery in even printing this where so many can read it. I came across it on a friends post on Facebook. I wanted to be a Music Teacher, but when I got into the program I felt like a failure even then. I have since regretted not getting my Music Degree. I might be without a job anyways if I was a Music Teacher as so many places are cutting the very important ARTS programs. BRAVO Ms. Ryals. This mom in Georgia applauds you standing up.

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    3. Schools care very much about teachers, however the only schools can guarantee continued funding is to follow the guide lines put forth by federal and state governments... Let's put the blame where it belongs.

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    4. I am the mother of a first grade teacher who has taught eight+ years at a Title 1 school. She, as well as other teachers, is amazing and NO ONE recognizes it, gives support, or often even knows about these teachers. Parents and students ask to be in her class and former students come back to visit and tell her how much they miss her and how much they learned from her. I am so glad this has been posted; maybe, just maybe some of the right people in administration or anyone remotely connected to the education of our children will see it. My daughter is no longer at the school, but you're right, all "they" care about are scores. These teachers are as gifted and bring out the gifted students, but the school has been threatened to close down, simply because of SCORES. It is truly a shame! This is from a teacher's mother and grandmother. I hope the government gets its head on straight before my grandchildren are old enough to enter "the system".

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  7. You are absolutely correct. I teach gifted math in middle school, Algebra in 7th and geometry in 8th, I do not teach FCAT. So although my kids all earned 4 and 5s on the EOC, with 4 perfect scores I showed little gains. The state decides what they think a student should earn and judges me against that, therefore it is a no win for those teaching the high end.

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  8. I taught. It was said that I was an excellent teacher. I left because it is not a profession because nobody, in administration or at the state or federal level treats teachers as highly educated professionals. It's a place to feel unappreciated and abused. Low pay, little respect, and money comes out of your own pocket. Not a good profession, unless one enjoys the day to day feeling that what you do is wrong and never enough.

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    2. "unless one enjoys the day to day feeling that what you do is wrong and never enough."
      Seriously - have you been in my head the last few weeks? I teach ESE early interventions and I often feel that while I bust tail to find ways to reach my students, to create growth and learning opportunities, I am CONSTANTLY under a magnifying glass. I question everything I do - was it enough, did I ask rigorous enough questions, were my expectations high enough, did I push, push, push enough??? And yet this is also fought against the lovely thought of "but they are kids and I NEED to let them learn in a friendly, loving environment with self exploration, not question, question, question." Added to that - am I being compared to others, with the same expectations ~ regardless of my students' needs, development.... the list goes on. I have never felt so down upon myself as I do as a teacher. We give so much, and often I feel as though I have little to no respect for my professional performance, or who I am as a human being.

      At the end of it all, it's test scores, observation scores, EET (Empowering Effective Teachers - which is NOT empowering, but degrading), data, paperwork and NEVER enough time to complete it all.

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  9. Thanks for posting! I am a recently retired teacher and enjoy being home with no stress any more!!! I loved teaching but the profession has changed. My 2 children were in Gifted/Talented classes years ago and loved the challenges and expectations required of them. I know how hard you work and it is a shame that this is happening to you and others.

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  10. I have seen this travesty occur in many states. I am glad you shared your experience and I applaud your attitude because it enables you to continue teaching. The problem, as I see it, is that teachers no longer teach, they perform duties related to testing and test taking skills, The children are robbed of the experiences that promote a love of learning and create a pathway for a desire to learn throughout their lives. School has become a "job" for both students and teachers. Hopefully, the pendulum will swing and the system will revert to one where standardized testing does not drive classroom expectations and students once more become the center of the learning environment. Thank you for sharing your concerns and your trials with the folks who read Facebook posts. I am a retired teacher and I know whereof you speak.

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  11. I am an art teacher and I feel your frustration. It is never good enough. There is no celebration. We have had many meetings talking about how to have kids even have higher levels of prophecy when they have reached the highest.

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  12. I'm retired. Seventh grade language arts. This is disgraceful.

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  13. Have you ever heard of Kevin Honeycutt? He encourages teachers to post online about what they're doing in their classrooms as often as possble. Grab a camera and start a YouTube channel. If not you, then encourage someone else. :) People need to know about all of the wonderful things you're doing.

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    1. So I should spend even more of my precious family/personal time to prove that I am doing great things in the classroom? No thanks. I'm not looking for accolades; just a little respect.

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    2. I agree, but at the same time, I think it is powerful for teachers to be part of the message to the public about "what teachers do." The media sure isn't getting right.

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    3. Keep in mind...many districts have policies against putting classroom activities and students on Youtube, Facebook, etc. The last thing you need is to violate your district's social media policy.

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  14. I feel your pain. I've argued for a long time that gifted teachers would get hosed under a growth model. Not only are they less likely to show any learning gains since they already score near the top, the Florida VAM contains a variable for gifted which surely predicts an even higher level of growth. Don't even get me started on the slacker gifted that are likely to blow off a test. I may not have been the worst teacher in Florida, but it looks like I was the worst teacher at my school. At least I was in good company as most of the other teachers with negative VAMs at my school also taught gifted students.I used to have a great reputation. After future students and parents see my -1.49% VAM, they might beg to be transferred to another class. http://kafkateach.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/i-finally-got-to-see-my-vam-and-so-did-everybody-else/

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    1. Not just gifted, but all special education students and their teachers are negatively affected by these poorly written and poorly analyzed tests. It's a paradox - students are diagnosed with a need to have an individualized learning plan because we know they are not at the same level (whether below or above) as their peers, but let's make them take a test they are doomed to fail because they have to take it on grade level. These tests have caused students to increase undesired behaviors, shut down, and have anxiety attacks. This is NOT what we should be doing to our students. Or the teachers.

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  15. Your plight is clearly not of your doing, so where does it come from? Look no further than your state legislature. What is needed is a grading system for these folks. Included would be number of days actually in town when in session. The number of purposed bills they read and understood before they voted. This would make a nice comprehension test. Until the public does something to clean-up the legislatures, no one is safe from their willingness to mess with peoples lives.

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  16. That's FCAT for you. Our school--which has been an A school since they started doing school grades--ended up as a B school in 2012/2013. Why? Because not enough students made gains. Never mind that we're one of the highest achieving schools in the state. Such unrealistic expectations of teachers and schools! Best of luck to you.

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  17. This is what happens when the "professionals" take over in areas that they know nothing about!

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  18. i am so afraid that many of the best teachers will stop being teachers in public schools because the testing has gotten out of hand (and truly not a test of either the student or the teacher) as a parent of two daughters who made it through the public schools and now the parent of a kindergarten teacher... PLEASE keep teaching, PLEASE let the public know what is wrong with the tests. and as always watch out for our kids, they are our future <3

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  19. And people want to know why there is always such a teacher shortage of good teachers....

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  20. There are so many really talented teachers leaving the profession because they get no respect.

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  21. I left teaching after 15 years because I could see the writing on the wall. I don't want to be a part of it anymore. Let those that think they have the so-called "knowledge" of what is the best way(s) to teach figure it out. They seem to have all the answers right now regardless of how many good teachers tell them they are wrong. When these losers who hold all the power right now finally get as frustrated as me and the many others (and it will happen, as history proves everything has a balance), then perhaps they will care to listen to those of us who have degrees in teaching that rival that of doctors and lawyers. Sadly, I've seen a lot of fantastic teachers leave the profession. What is meant to improve our schools is only hurting it as more and more seasoned and gifted teachers leave the profession due to these same frustrations you have written about. What they don't realize is the harm they are doing to our next generation--the generation that will be deciding what nursing homes these politicians and administrators will be spending their end years in. I'll have no part of it, thank you. It just seems so sad to me that everyone recognizes this HUGE pink elephant of a problem in the middle of this issue, yet no one who has the power to do anything about has the balls to stand up and change it. I see a teacher's strike coming on the horizon.

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  22. We need to get rid of the so-called 'experts', who get paid many times what the real experts are paid, (the teachers and instructors of the new millennium). These mandarins *need* to use statistical lies to trash high performing teachers because their massive salaries and privileged positions depend on their being able to wring their hands, point their fingers and convince everyone that they are the ones whose oversight and 'assessment' will save the education system. And all the while they bring in more and more of the anachronistic, operant conditioning/cognitivist based assessment, more of the skill-drill-and-kill that would produce a perfect human product for the industrial age. Never mind that we now *know* this is diametrically opposed to neural and psychological processes developed over hundreds of thousands of years of evolution. Never mind that it induces downshifting - the neural equivalent of a lobotomy (no sh*t!). Right, now I'm off to throw up instead of ranting any more.

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    1. THIS. Needs to be fleshed out and published.

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  23. Stupid testing!! It irritates the hell out of me!! Parents, we could put an end to this...we could rally with teachers and administrators (because they are tax payers with a say too, I don't know why they think they don't have a say???) and make changes...why is it we all share our compassion and outrage on here but no one goes any further to rally at the statehouse and to our education reps who are putting these stupid laws into place....shame on ALL of us for allowing this bull to continue and negatively effect our children and their future!! :(

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  24. Teachers need to sue- class action suit? Parents/students need to complain to legislature. Someone needs to run on a platform apposing all these changes in Education and then people need to vote them into office. Some sort of grass movement against these changes- excessive testing and evaluation system needs to get under way. Seems to be the only way to get attention. Is this possible in FL- to sue legislature? Or is there some law in place that you can't? Then the predicament of whom to sue. I'm retired from teaching and feel for those brave souls still out there teaching. True heroes.

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  25. I retired from teaching in Florida schools - leaving behind a profession I loved that had been taken hostage by politicians. Florida pays more and more to testing companies so less and less goes into the classroom. Teachers are evaluated by what can receive a checkmark in a 2 minute visit and the ever-changing test scores. Hope they don't beat you down so much, Simone, you have to leave teaching like so many other excellent teachers have done. Former Broward Teacher

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    1. I retired early 13 years ago because I was not allow to teach. Just prepare for testing.

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  26. I am a teacher in Florida and they will be publishing our scores too. I feel this nightmare infringes on our privacy rights. Teachers need to stand up and sign petitions and take this to the higher level courts to stop this silliness. ..no other public agency has their scores/grades published.

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    1. If we can't talk about our students grades with anyone or let alone show anyone their grades--why should they publish our "scores" seems to me they should be private too.

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    2. AGREED! There is no protection. Yet we work so hard to protect our students while we are thrown to the wolves.

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  27. I have the utmost respect for teachers. Without them we would still be living in the stone age. I also believe teachers need the freedom to use whatever tactics necessary to enlighten their students. Statistics are over rated. Take for instance the baseball player known for being able to hit home runs. The opposing teams walk him because they know he'll hit it out of the park. Statistically, his home run average goes down. This happens not because he's bad, but because he's good. Keep up the good work. People know who's performing at a higher level even when the official record doesn't show it.

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  28. Who was the Einstein that developed this rating system for teachers? Did he/she spend 5 years of research on a PhD developing the system? Who were the even smarter people to actually implement and use the system?

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  29. I am a retired Florida teacher. This is a disgrace! In the past, teaching was an honorable profession ... how sad

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  30. Prime example of what happens when you allow legislators and politicians with no knowledge of learning or education to dictate policy.

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  31. This list thing is bullying and blacklisting, through and through. How can we expect our kids not to judge each other harshly when, as a society, we're setting a conflicting example by judging ourselves? And of all people-- teachers! Oh, hello. This is so NOT okay. I suggest we start a new petition at change. org called "Stop the bullying of teachers by the system."

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  32. I left teaching after 6 short years :( I always taught kindergarten and this fall I was put in a 3rd grade classroom. My principal said a good teacher can teach any grade, so she was not concerned, she was actually excited to have a "primary mind in an intermediate grade". Needless to say, I resigned in December. Not because I couldn't teach or manage, but I hated the emphasis put on "making cut score". My primary mind could not take the demands put on these 8 years olds and be ok with it. Asking an 8 year old to sit at a laptop 1.5 hours a day to take practice tests for state testing is awful. They were bored, ancy, and grew to hate the routine- even though I tried to make it fun (the best I could). The sad thing was that if their numbers were not up, meaning maybe they skipped a couple practice tests, I got questioned to the 3rd degree about whether or not I understood the importance. I stay at home with my kids now. My daughter will be going to K this fall and I will admit that I am skeptical of the public schools. Not skeptical of the teachers (I think most know what is happening is wrong) but skeptical on what the schools (or districts and the state) think is most valuable for our children. I hate it. So frustrating. I miss my students, I feel like I let them down, but I was afraid of letting them down and not meeting the standards that my school called acceptable. I wanted to teach without the kids thinking that what the computerized test was saying was more important. I wanted to teach what I knew my students would benefit from most, not what the "standard" says will leave no child behind.

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  33. Think about who is making these laws...rich legislators whose children go to NOT public but private schools. They are none to happy to make us *public teachers* look bad. Then their fancy private school gets more public funding.

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  34. As a middle school science teacher (6th and 7th grade, not 8th, which is tested on FCAT), my VAM is based on the reading score for the entire school. I am being judged and published based on children I may never have even set eyes on in our school of 900+. How is this right or fair?

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  35. Great post! I too am a 5th Grade Gifted teacher in the same boat. I imagine our students were compared to one another. I just don't know how they can be expected to make gains when they are already at the top. It just makes me sad.

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  36. I hope that you have a strong administrator who can raise up the teachers on your campus who are effective teachers and not let this bring the school climate down.

    Deniece

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  37. My ex wife was a 5th grade teacher who taught gifted, ran the field trip each year, coordinated the math rodeo, and the great hands on science classes.... it was very rewarding work to see children light up as they learned.... but each class was not like the other... one year you had a group of high achievers, and the next year, a box of rocks... and the test scores had to go up each year! A statistical impossibility!! It drove her out of the profession, but she would probably suck along with all you great ones!!

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  38. I guess I don't get it, or understand people. In this instance, look at all the work this teacher is doing and has done. All the lives she's changed, the people, parents, co workers she KNOWS, and who KNOW HER....and she's upset because her name will come out in the newspaper associated with some statistic that shows her name in a somewhat negative light to PEOPLE WHO DON'T KNOW HER. So how does she handle it? She says she wants to quit? Seriously? What kills me are these teachers who CLAIM to care so much about the kids, and work tirelessly to make a difference...wind up doing so....and because of a few statistics that LOOK bad, but aren't....the kids still benefit, the people who KNOW her know the truth, so WHO CARES what's in the stupid paper, or what some idiot that doesn't know her, thinks about her as a teacher? SO WHAT?!! Absolutely amazing how people are....

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    1. The so what, Jim, is that the people who know her cannot protect under the new guidelines, made and enforced by people who do not know her. Put yourself in the same position, your professional future is being determined by the performance of a group of people you may not know, have no hand in preparing for the events on which they will be scored, and all of that data will be compiled using a formula that no one person can explain. Then several months after the numbers are crunched you get a sealed envelope with your Value Added Score. If you are not a classroom teacher, with students assigned to you, your VAM is averaged from all students. The hard work, extra hours, parent compliments, even administrative compliments mean nothing, even if my personal score based on my observations is perfect. A -1.49% would drop my overall score. THAT IS WHY WE CARE.

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    2. Jim Ferrell, she cares because these meaningless scores are used, by law, as a significant portion of teacher evaluations, which can ultimately result in job loss. This matters.

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    3. Oh Jim, YOU and people who think like you are the reason that teachers worry about losing a job after all of this evaluation mess. YOU are exactly the type of person of which she speaks. She wanted people on the, "outside" to understand. Yet, you took and did just the opposite of what she expected you to do...and that is understand. Sigh! ...and it shall continue my colleagues.

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    5. Become a teacher and you will understand why people quit. The nepotism, politics, and back-stabbing are as bad as the standardized testing. She only touched on a tip of the sinking ship that is known as education.

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  39. Unbelievable. It is impossible for kids scoring 5 on a 1 to 5 scale to make better than a 5 next time! You should be very proud of being "one of the worst teachers in you state." Next year ask the principal to have only students scoring 1 or 2 on the test. Then raise them to 3 or 4 and you will be a huge success!!!

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  40. Thank you for putting into words the frustration most of us feel. I am seeing more and more throw in the towel. God forbid uou have a student, as I did, who didnt take his medicine that day, mom couldn't afford to refill it, went to Cuba for a month to visit family and got back they day of the test! I could go on and on but it doesn't change anything. Just so sad at the changes I have seen to the profession over my ten years of teaching!

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  41. I'm so sorry. I work at a public school, so I know the pressures are tremendous. We're going in the wrong direction because people who don't teach don't realize that there are many types of learning that can't be measured on a standardized test. I'd argue the most important types of learning can't be measured on a standardized test. And the emphasis on math and science means that funding is going away from technology in many schools. There are many solutions--one is to demonize teachers. Unfortunately, it's the solution that doesn't actually get at the real problems

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  42. and it hurts...and it feel horrible....I know...it is part of RACING to some unknown and every moving place ... while there is part of me that wants all of us teachers to be "accountable"...there is no way to compare us to a moving target!

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  43. I teach at the opposite end of the spectrum with similar results. I teach in a relatively small, rural middle school and have two resource ELA classes and two inclusion ELA classes. My students are all 6th, 7th, and 8th graders and without exception, none of them has ever passed the state standardized test at the end of the year. Ever. In the past, students identified with learning differences had a bit of a reprieve because they would look at different measures of growth. This year, though, I am being told that growth won't matter, they are simply looking at the end score. So, my 6th grader that has a lexile of 100 is going to be given a test that has a lexile level of around 900. It's not hard to predict *those* results. So, even if I can help him develop some skills to score a 2 or 2+ (we go up to 4; 3 is considered "grade level") when he has always had 1- and 1, it doesn't matter. Because of this, the "regular" ed teachers are also screaming for more resource classes and less inclusion classes because "my kids" bring their averages down. It is a nasty, nasty cycle we are in.

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  44. I wish all teachers were as inferior as you. Imagine the results of more inferior teachers and having kids excel in math and science. And think of all the young girls excelling in math and science and having you as a role model. The values that helps guide the girls through their entire life.The horror of it all.

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  45. Well, you are certainly not a candidate for suicide, and you owe NO one an apology. You live in the real world, and that's evident. My only comment is you are the victim of a blind bureaucracy.

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  46. It's a hard life. I am a certified teacher who decided I couldn't deal with that career's politics after student teaching during a contract dispute with the school district. There was so much dissention in the ranks that I couldn't deal with it. Nobody likes teachers. They're underappreciated. I couldn't stand the idea of working so hard, seeing all the teachers around me working for peanuts with no appreciation. It made me sick. I decided after that to switch professions. You have to be made of very strong stuff to take all that the public dishes out to you if you want to teach.

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  47. hold your head up girl, you have nothing to be ashamed of, just be you and be damned with what those papers say. You know your own worth and so do you students and parents!

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  48. You truly have a great attitude. My state, Oklahoma, is just beginning this nonsense. The plan we are following, step for step, is Florida's! I was asked to be a monitor for special education students for our state writing test this week. Only 30 minutes in and I was figuring out my retirement plan. I still love teaching. But what we are asked to do now is not teaching. (And happens to go against every principal in writings on effective leadership!)

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  49. What would we do without the media? I can think of lots of things maybe we should get rid of them for such stupid reporting

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  51. I teach in Ohio. Beginning next year, 50% of our pay is based on our value add data (student growth) and the other 50% is based on our observations. It's ridiculous that politicians are the ones that make these decisions despite having no knowledge or understanding of the teaching profession and what it truly entails.

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  52. Seriously, send this to Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, or to the Huffington Post. I'll bet your students and their parents would have a lot to say about this ranking.

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  53. Pam, I'm not certain there is much to worry about, as you seem to already have a grip on that. Stuff like this gets published all the time about politicians, CEO's, CFO's, and all those who supposedly are the ones who receive(d) a good education, and what good has it done? Have they changed?

    The real gift here is knowing you have done and accomplished all that you have, in spite of those "smacks in the mouth" by those who are great at taking pot shots and "cheap shots," never daring to venture into your arena.

    It makes me think of the movie, "Gladiator." The emperor stabs the gladiator in hopes of weakening him enough to kill him. It didn't work, any more than all the efforts of those only interested in creating a furor for political and financial gain.

    Keep on keeping on. Hope does spring eternal!

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  54. My niece (a teacher in GA) posted this on Facebook and I commented the below post.
    You might correct the misspelling of renumeration in the second paragraph.. It sort of sticks outs it is just before the sentence where you describe running the spelling bee...lol. She said it was because you were so upset...





    interesting read from a committed teacher. I especially understood her when she said "...just one of many reasons so many of us throw in the towel rather than take the nonsensical abuses that come with teaching...." . No one teaches for the money. Its a special breed. I can talk the talk all I want but, its like being black, Ill never actually now what its like because no matter how much I sympathize and support a group, Ive never actually spent any time as a member of that group.

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    1. Actually, remuneration is spelled correctly :)

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  56. What is going to end up happening is that schools are going to be filled with teachers gather, interpret and present data, but don't have a clue what a child needs emotionally and are not able to make a connection with them. But that won't matter, because they can tell you how to fit the square peg into the round hole and all the kids will make adequate gains. The kids will make gains, but will be so jacked up because often the teacher is the only one in so many children's lives that makes them feel as if they matter and can be successful. So many of us are fed p and leaving the classroom. God help our kids.

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  57. I had a student come to me last week and tell me she was being beaten up by her brother, in front of her mother. That is because of the relationship I have built with the student. Could I tell you her FCAT score from last year, no. But I know that she is a low level reader and that she needs to be told she can do anything she wants as long as she believes in herself. I know how to help her succeed because I have taken the time to get to know her, but all the work I do will never help her make adequate gains, because she is a small setting ESE student that is 1 of 7 in a regular ed class of 20. Go figure....guess I suck too.

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  58. check out badassteacher.org. it's a group for all the teachers that refuse to accept blame for what is going on with the so called 'reform' movement. it's time to raise your teacher voice. ^0^

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  59. This is exactly why I left school. I have a few more classes and my senior internship to finish. NO THANK YOU! I have been very satisfied being a paraprofessional in the school system for the past 20 years. My family time is non negotiable and I see so many of my friends and co workers sacrificing their family for lesson plans, grading papers and brushing up on Kagan and Marzano. It goes unappreciated by the parents and the students. Its not worth it anymore. The students and parents don't respect teachers and the profession like they use too.

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  60. It's always something. I am a school librarian, and I do my best for 10-12 hours a day, reading books and helping students. It won't be enough. When it's not, I'll do something else. Do your best every day, and try to focus on your students, not all of the naysayers!

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  61. We all need to fight what Big Govt pushes on us. You do what you know is right...screw Big Brother!

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  63. I actually went through the scores posted by the Jacksonville Times Union and I am glad they posted them. Not because it identified the bad teachers but rather because it show how flawed the system is. I could have told you which school had bad VAM score before I ever read it as it almost always ties along economic lines. You have teachers with low VAM score yet they do not teach any subject that is related to the testing for setting the VAM, never mind all the valid points you brought up.

    Read the case of Sarah Wysocki in DC, half of her class came from a school where widespread cheating was found to have taken place on the test. Yet the teachers who had those students the next year were evaluated against that bogus score.

    Now DC gave 44 teachers incorrect evaluation scores, incorrectly firing one of them, because of a programming error not found until November.

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  64. This new system sucks. (Can I say that ?) . Loved your post . When you miss politics and ivory towers with education you a formula to abuse children's minds. Politics has infected society today. If I am allowed, I shall return to my coffee and perform the now illegal act of thinking on my own.. Continue to fight the good fight we need more people to take responsibility and not be bullied by the ivory towers. Hmmm, is that what they mean about bullying in schools ?

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  65. Simone - I am truly sorry that you have experienced this in your professional teaching career. Please don't lose your passion for teaching our children in spite of the media and/or accountability lists. Children need teachers with passion, passion, passion! I applaud you for yours! I am with you... I keep hoping too!

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  66. I agree with everyone that we have people making these decisions who have absolutely no idea how teaching 'works'. They have only been in the classroom as they went through school themselves or visited it because of their own children's classrooms. I would like to make these points - 1 - As I understand my state's rating system only those teachers who are required to give the test are rated. Therefore, primary teachers, even though they are building the foundation of the system, are not rated. 2 - We are expected to differentiate our teaching based on the needs of students, but they are all tested at their classroom grade level. I teach third and have several students reading at a 2nd grade level - they receive reading instruction based on 2nd grade expectations - their work and grade card grades are based on different expectations than the rest of their peers - so why in the world are they expected to take a third grade level test and score as high as third graders who are at or above their grade level? 3 - Every year a new set of 8 year olds come into my classroom - but the expectations set for them are higher than the expectations of the group before. How can that be? The expectations for students either through their own state's guidelines or the CCSS remain the same each year. These aren't adjusted each year so why would the expectations on the tests? Finally, if all of our students were like computerized robots and could actually all advance to the highest of levels every single year - the idiots who put these laws, regulations, and rules into affect would be out a job - our high schoolers would be 'smarter' than they are. Hopefully, by the time they can vote WE WILL HAVE TAUGHT THEM TO NOT BE SHEEP - BUT INSTEAD TO BE THINKERS AND LEARNERS. It is our job to help them learn, to teach them to solve problems, and to become thinkers. If we have been producing a bunch of sheep who keep voting the same idiots in every year it is our fault and we do need to do something to change it.

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  68. As a parent, I say get rid of all this damn testing; the bureaucrats need to stop being the ones to decide whether our children are learning. "Preparing" (i.e.teaching to) these tests are wasting true instruction time, does not create critical thinkers and problem solvers or instill a lifetime love of learning in the children. Furthermore, as Ms. Ryals points out,not only do the tests not necessarily accurately reflect the teachers' achievement with their students, there have been countless stories of how the tests are flawed and scores manipulated so that they don't really demonstrate anything at all! Throw it out the window and LET THE TEACHERS TEACH.

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  69. I completely understand and stand with you shaking my head and wondering at the vast stupidity of those who believe test scores are the "be all, end all" of education. Five years ago, I was laid off due to financial incompetance and malfeasance at the district level. This was on the heels of being named "Teacher of the Year." Less competent "teachers" were not laid off due to seniority and the California Teachers Association's system of seniority over quality. I did find more satisfying work as a teacher, but the indignity and ignorance that runs this system stings and bites. My heart goes out to you. (Thank you, Kathleen Hucker, for sending me here.)

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  70. I am a fifth grade teacher in Ohio. Ohio students take a state science test in fifth grade and again in eighth. When my students are tested, they are responsible for all of the science material they have learned from 3rd grade, 4th grade and 5th grade. Not only do I not have the time to teach 3 years worth of curriculum that does not layer upon the prior year, hope my colleagues love and value science enough in the younger grades to not simply read a picture book about each concept, but I also must pray that each student remembered exactly what they learned two years ago. Eighth grade science teachers are in the same boat, they are tested and evaluated over material from 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. I would be fine if I were tested only on the material I am responsible for, but being evaluated based on other teachers' teaching of science and a student's memory seems unreasonable. The Ohio Board of Education and our lovely governor, don't even know what they are doing. We now have a third grade guarantee, but they are not quiet sure how to implement it and have not planned out what it means for the future of those students who do not pass. I also wish educators would talk about the giant elephant in the room as far as test scores go... In the United States we test practically every student. We believe all children can and will become nuclear physicists. When comparing our test scores, no one mentions that many of the countries ahead of us only test their top students. They track their students and place them on a trade path instead of believing the are capable of becoming brain surgeons. Why do we roll over and not bring this point up to the law makers? Oh yes, I forgot, in our country we believe everyone can be anything- but should they? Perhaps, those making educational decisions in this country should actually have a background in... I don't know, maybe teaching and then we will start seeing a real interest in improving our schools and helping those students out who really should not be holding a scalpel, splitting an atom, or dare I say...creating legislation!

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    1. Texas is similar for science and they need a 75 to pass while reading and math are in the 60's.

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  71. This is infuriating to read! I am so sorry for the way you are being mischaracterized. Yet, I so appreciate you highlighting your story so that people outside of education can perhaps begin to grasp what is happening all across the nation. Somehow, some way, this all has to STOP!

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  72. Amen! I taught a class in 4th grade and then moved up with them to fifth grade. I had several students score a 5 in reading and math in 4th and do the same in 5th but showed no gains. Confusing when they didn't socre a perfect 5 in 4th but scored a perfect score in 5th. it also has me teaching over 60 students when I only had 44. Last year I taught math and science. I had some of the highest science scores. All but 4 scored a 3 or better, with most scoring a 4 or 5 but I am a negative. Depressing, but then after 29 years I am use to the public opinion that teachers don't really matter. We still do our job because we know the kids need us.

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  73. I'm absolutely floored and don't know what to say. I am so sorry this happened to you.

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  75. I feel your disappointment and pain as we are in the same boat. Some days I'm just trying to make it through the day because of the pressure of being a "D" school. My county now has me and my fellow professionals on the same losing scale the state testing was - where they raised the bar a few points each year on what qualified as a "3". Now to be excellent or proficient is being raised every year. I put in 60-70 hours a week with planning and data dissection, meetings and so on. I don't really have a life of my own. I'm going on leave at the end of this year to recover from the stress because there has to be more to my life than this job. I wish these lawmakers would do our job for a week and parents too for that matter because there is more to this job than just "stand and deliver". We pour our hearts and souls into our jobs and it never seems to be good enough.

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  76. So sad to hear everyone having such similar experiences. I too left public school teaching after only 8 years. All that college education, money, and passion for teaching down the drain. Once it was done, there was no getting it back. :-(

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  77. Your closing argument about your name being in the same list as those who don't care, don't work hard etc is a but off. Sure some teachers will fit your description but what about the ones that are in the same situation as you? What about the teachers working with classes full of socioeconomic issues that don't let school be important? What about them? Why are you assuming they are bad teachers?

    I feel your pain about being on the list but you are being just as ignorant as the people who think the list should be published to say that your name is being put in the trash with all of those bad teachers as if you are the only good one in the lot.

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    1. You misunderstood. I do not think the list is representative of anything at all, but the public will not be provided with critical information to see that most of us on the list are being given an inaccurate assessment. Sixty percent of teachers in Florida are being judged on test scores they did not influence. The public will only see the information that is presented, not that it is unfair to all of us.

      At my school, a conglomerate of the 4th and 5th grade test scores in reading and math will be used to evaluate the pre-k through 3rd grade teachers, as well as the art/music/media/PE/speech therapist and assorted other teachers. In a transient population of students, we cannot even attribute the earlier foundations of the 4th and 5th grade students to those teachers in prek-3rd grades.

      At all schools, the myriad factors affecting student success are ignored in terms of teacher evaluations. The assessments used to evaluate the students are themselves controversial, and not necessarily an accurate reflection of their progress.

      Teachers are not ignorant of the fact that the system is unfair across the board. I was writing from a personal perspective regarding why my specific students' test scores determined that I am lacking, solely to offer one example out of many.

      Sincerely,
      Simone Ryals

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  78. Even the testing industry knows it's bogus: http://www.ets.org/Media/Research/pdf/PICANG14.pdf (good stuff on page 25)

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  79. This breaks my heart. I teach 5th as well. I would LOVE you to teach my daughters.

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  80. I teach fifth grade now. I used to teach the 8th grade Algebra class. However, even though all my Algebra students passed the high school exit exam as advanced, my 'score' for that year was a -13. Why? Because they also had to take the 8th grade math assessment. They did not take 8th grade math, so therefore, their scores dropped from the previous year. My principal quickly moved me to fifth grade in order to raise my score. I have made a 5 for two years now under the 'newest' evaluation process, but now they are changing the Social Studies curriculum. My subject may be relegated to a related arts, where our score is combined with the reading teacher's score. CRAZY!!

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  81. Have you taken this to the newspaper? Spreading it here is great and it has been shared on Facebook, but the national media might be a more productive place to tell the story.

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  82. Perhaps they should print each teacher's curriculum vitae so that the public can truly be informed that most of the rest of that information is tainted goods resulting from fulfilling a requirement to differentiate teaching methods and then test children with standardized tests. It is in no way a true representation of the child's learning nor abilities and therefore nowhere near a true representation of a teacher's ability to teach and inspire engaged learning.

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  83. Wow! My daughter will be a senior next year and I told my husband that I will be looking for a new profession. I take my job seriously, but our parents view us as babysitters. I call about behavior and am attacked because previous teachers do not mark their true conduct. I am beyond tired of it. People that make the test do not have to teach the material to a level they cannot understand. They are not dealing with parents that are not parenting, but.require me to parent their kids. This is beyond what I wanted to do. I love teaching, but it is not teaching anymore. Sad days.

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  84. This really touched a sore spot with me. My partner and I have been the highest math, science, social studies, reading and writing for a number of years. I can guarantee it won't happen this year. Then we will hear about it ALL year at every single staff meeting. She had SIX kids move in at various times of the year - some with horrific learning problems, some had been in schools that were a year or more behind us - and we both know they won't pass. I have a seriously disturbed ED boy in my class who will NOT pass. He refuses to work, to do anything, but we are still required to keep him in class. I have others who have been low through every other grade, but I am supposed to get them up to grade level in the short time they give us to teach. The rest of the time is testing, testing and more testing, computer, music, counselor lesson, P.E., Library, pull out programs - you name it, we have it. I am tired, discouraged and I am ready to retire. Kicker???? I can't because my husband is a paraplegic with $17,000 in medical bills per year. No way can I make it with half that in SS and retirement income. And I love teaching with every fiber of my being. My precious students have pulled me through more bad stuff by just being the crazy, silly and fun kids they are. But I'm done.

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  85. Thanks Sweet Teacher! I too, though older than you, can relate to every thing you said. Tell me..how is it, the sports guys carry a pigskin in their hands and get paid ridiculous salaries, yet, we hold the future in our hands, and get slapped? Thank you for trying to be as voice for the children and for us. In admiration, Debby Taylor Allen

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  86. I detect a deeper agenda with this kind of evaluation system. In some people's minds, I believe, your experience shows the system is working. The goal is to create systems of measurement in which many/most schools and educators will fail at some point, "proving" that American public education is broken and needs to be corporatized and/or replaced by a voucher system that favors private, oft religious schools. The end result will be a system where the best education is reserved for the wealthy or those who conform to certain religious beliefs.

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  87. I'd love to have one of my writers for Decoded Parenting interview you - please get in touch. editorial AT decodedeverything DOT com

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  88. Standardized tests need to go away. Students (in general) are not taught critical thinking skills. They are taught how to take tests.
    Many are not challenged-they are BORED. When they are BORED, they act out. When they act out, they are labeled as trouble makers or they need medication.

    According to the 'test scores', we need our children to become tiny robots. Robots who know how to fill in little circles or how to use a mouse and computer screen. Robots who can do the same thing over and over without any original thinking required.

    We need teachers who keep our kids interested and challenged. We need teachers who go the extra mile to keep the kids engaged..

    Oh wait-WE HAVE THOSE TEACHERS!! The system is broken. Funding should not be dependent upon test scores. There has to be other ways.

    There are some teachers that truly suck. Either they are burned out or never loved their profession (they can't be there for the money!).

    You do not suck-and neither do 95% of the others we entrust our children with every day. The system sucks.

    It needs to be fixed. I don't know how; however, I do understand why so many parents are beginning to Homeschool.

    Good luck, Ms Ryals. You certainly deserve much more than you are being recognized for. I appreciate your efforts and your love for your students and your job. You are the reason many of those kids go to school each day.

    Keep doing what you're doing. You're not broken.

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  89. God Bless you Dear! As a former teacher, I completely understand your frustration. This country simply has all the wrong values and until they wake up and see all the damage they have created, nothing will change. If I was still teaching, it would not be in this country and if I still had kids or grandkids that were school age, they would not be attending school in the United States. And it's not because of the Teachers being failures, it's because the People in charge have absolutely no business making decisions for the schools, because they don't have a clue what it takes to teach these days. All of our countries teachers will continue to be in my prayers!

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  90. I quit teaching after 10 years b/c I was told my scores weren't good enough and they were going to switch me from teaching math which was my passion. Yes, my scores went down...they told me I had the best classroom management so I got higher numbers and the tougher students. Most of my kids hadn't passed a test since starting school, so 7th grade was not going to be much different. Let's not look at my kids improvement, some by leaps and bounds, but just not over that passing line. Not to mention, my kids had a hard time focusing many times. Most were raising younger brothers and sisters b/c mom was working night shift as a second job. Some were wondering if dad was coming home and many spent time going to visit incarcerated parents. I would think I was a bad teaching if I wasn't understanding to that part of life that is going to have a much bigger impact than if they understood order of operations. It's really sad where schools have gone :(

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  91. This is exactly why I threw in the towel. I adored the kids, adored the teaching, developed well behaved students, produced the first yearbook the school ever had on my own time, spent oodles of my own money on "required" hands on materials the school would not supply, and put up with the discrimination of being the wrong race in an inner-city school (I'm talking about the teachers and administrators being discriminatory, not the students). I wasn't given any of the grade levels I submitted as the math scores in my class (I so loved teaching third grade) improved more than any other class. I was put into the grade level with the worst scores. It wasn't worth my sanity or my life. The city district for which I worked is worse today than when I left fifteen years ago. I often think of the wasted talent of teachers and students due to a crippled educational system. How sad.

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  92. Sad... Keep doing what you're doing!

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  93. Keep doing what you are doing and fight the good fight! It is unfortunate that regulators can't see the big picture. If they want to see improvement in our education system they need to look at other things besides test scores. I always did horrible on the IOWA tests that we took as kids because I was scared of them. I went to college and I have 2 degrees.....testing young children makes no sense at all.

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  94. You need a FB share button. I wish more teachers had the time and energy to write a blog like this. Keep speaking the truth! Sending support from MN!

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  95. I am still sighing after reading your post, and totally understand and feel your pain. I am a former teacher, special education and general education middle level. I loved it. The planning. The prep. The excitement and enthusiasm as students learned to like "learning." And now I work at the university level, helping prepare that next generation of teachers. Prepare. Just how do we do that? And how do I maintain that excitement and enthusiasm, and bring them along on that great journey that is "teaching?" The bottom line, it's for all those young people who still need to be taught, and excited and nurtured...even though there is so much garbage to sift through to get that done. What are our choices? You are pursuing one of them - educating the public about the holes in the system. We need to be vocal...to speak up and let people know that test scores are STILL only one measure of what is going on, and that the picture is larger than what they are seeing from the outside looking in. As I continue to ramble, I will also continue to applaud your efforts to teach ALL people! Thank you!

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  96. So sorry you have to endure this! You're the kind of teacher our schools need! You give hope and inspiration to many! Thanks for your hard work. I hope your students and their parents will make some noise about this and let the truth be known! Blessings to you for your hard work and dedication!

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  97. Everyone who wants to have an opinion about the current state of education needs to read this... BTW, just found out today about the GA rollout for pay-for-performance. To say I'm not happy about it is putting it mildly...

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  98. While I don't know exactly how value add testing has been implemented in Florida and I don't doubt that improvements can be made, there is a place for it. Value add testing looks at how far a particular group of students has moved from the end of the prior year to the end of the current year. Therefore if the students start 3 years below grade level and the teacher moves them forward 2 years, the teacher gets credit rather than being punished for the fact that her students are still 1 year below grade level. Additionally if the students start 2 years beyond grade level, it is not okay for them to end the year only 1 year beyond grade level.

    You teach gifted students. That is precisely the group for whom we have done the poorest job and value add testing is precisely the way to illustrate the problem. Those students typically start the school year far ahead of the requirements of their grade. Because of this, it has not been necessary for gifted teachers to challenge them and move them forward very much. These kids are still going to score well at the end of the year. But these kids desperately need to work at a higher level. They are often capable of moving forward several grades each school year, and should be allowed to move as fast as necessary so that they continue to be engaged in the learning process. You may be a very nice person. I have not doubt you work hard and have a good relationship with your students. But I strongly suspect you have not been meeting the academic needs of your students. I suspect that because that has been the case for the vast majority of gifted students in our country. I'm sure you had no idea and were blindsided. But these tests have identified a real problem even if you didn't realize that problem existed. The good news it that the problem can be addressed.

    Gifted 5th graders can often work at a college level. Understandably, not all 5th grade gifted teachers can teach a variety of college level subjects. Still these students' needs can be met in other ways including on-line instruction. Not meeting their needs and allowing their love of learning to die because it is difficult to challenge them is not acceptable.

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  99. it makes me so sad. From a person who changed careers in order to be in education to help children I've been so disillusioned.

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  100. VAM does not mean what you indicate. Most teachers are judged based on the test scores of students they did not teach at all; or, at least on subject areas they themselves did not teach the children.

    This is the misconception I fear being perpetuated by recent events—that the public will mistake the teacher evaluation scores as accurate representations of teachers’ abilities and efforts, as though low scores are indicators of ill-prepared teachers “blind-sided” by student needs they do not meet rather than a poor rating system.

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  101. My kids are 9, 7 & 6. From my oldest in Kindergarten to my youngest now in Kindergarten, the bars have been raised to craziness! Even more testing & only 20 minutes of recess. My kindergartner hates school most days! This shouldn't be as Kindergarten is supposed to be where we learn, but where learning is FUN. What my oldest would've been exceeding the levels with, my youngest is under due to how much they expect now. It's not a matter of how each kid learns, but rather they learn the same way at the same time, etc. Really sad & really starting to light a fire in my soul about education these days. Thank you for sharing & I consider you a great teacher in my opinion as you're trying to stand up for kids individual learning styles, etc.

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  102. Hi Simone,

    Your story struck a cord with me and I wrote about you at my blog this week. I hope you don't mind. I wish you and your students all the best. Teachers like you inspire us all.

    Deb Costello

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    1. Shoot... here's the link: http://debcostello.blogspot.com/2014/03/see-now-im-just-mad.html

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    2. Saw it and loved it. Thank you!

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  104. This is ridiculous!! This is why my six year old hates school! Everything is about being an A school and test scores!! I'm sorry because you sound like a wonderful teacher!!

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  105. Such a frustrating and backwards system. It sounds like you are an exceptional teacher and if my kids were young, I'd be so glad to have them in your classroom.

    I've been in education long enough to know that things swing from one extreme to the other. Don't know if I'll be around for the next swing (I've already taught 17 years) but things should eventually turn around. The sad part is that great teachers like you must suffer through it...And the kids feel the brunt of it too. Wish we could go back to the good old days when learning was to enrich minds only and just for "fun". Back in the 80's I had the best time!!! :)

    Hang in there!

    Jenn Larson
    The Teacher Next Door

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  106. Please dont let this scare you away from teaching. Anyone with an ounce of common sense knows that the new standards are AWFUL at really figuring out who is a good teacher or a bad teacher. Teaching is an art, some people are amazing artists and can inspire their students to bask in the art of learning. Other people are only good at tracing the lines through tracing paper and their students hate learning. No standarized test can tell the difference when it only takes into account 1 out of 10 factors. A test score. A test that takes a week or more to take at that. The test that is given in March instead of May at the end of the school year. I hope your inner strength prevails and in a few years from now when everyone has adapted to the new higher standards you are back at the top of what you love to do!

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  107. GRRRR!! I've been teaching for almost a quarter of a century and still the "Department" doesn't get it!
    Not to mention the media who continually teacher-bash ... I'm waiting for them to publish the list of 'bad' parents ranking them on their child's study scores ... it's supposed to be a team effort!!

    Thank goodness there are so many 'bad' teachers like yourself still willing to keep soldiering on ... and thank you for taking the time to blog about it!

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  108. Thank you for blogging this. I am also in this "group". Our first year of collecting data, I was basically teaching 2 self contained classrooms of 5th graders because my grade level partner left on medical leave. My data was in the crapper. The next year, they returned a lot of students who needed smaller class sizes to the mainstream classroom. This threw all kinds of wrenches into the system. I made some growth; however, not enough. Well, it's year 3 and if I don't make more significant gains.... who knows what will happen!? I have kids who do not care, parents who care even less, and parents who are not supportive at all! I do my best to teach and help them learn; however, it won't be enough in today's educational realm!

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  109. It's sad indeed. If such policies make teachers who only have to teach the top 10% look bad, imagine those teachers who do not work exclusively with gifted or high performing students. It happens every day. I.E. An algebra teacher is sent a large percentage of students who have not mastered the basic pre-requisites to excel in algebra. Such teachers are put into a position where they must spend more time on the basics supposedly mastered in earlier courses to get at least half of the class through with a D (assessments will still be curriculum mandated ALGEBRA assessments, on curriculum mandated time tables [I.E. you can't spend three weeks on the same unit until everyone passes]). All too often, the real 'star teachers' come across as total failures because curricula does not align properly, or students are placed into the wrong courses before they are ready for it.

    Teachers who only get to work with high performing students are rare. Most of them have a wide variety of learners mainstreamed into the same course and learning environment.

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  110. That a newspaper can print a top to bottom list of teachers based on that system and think that they are doing a public service is absurd.

    THANK YOU for this post and for the important work you do in the classroom everyday.

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  111. Keep fighting the good fight, Simone. I was driven away from pursuing a teaching career because of the standardized testing monster. My own high school alma mater has dropped from 2nd in the state when I graduated to 7th in the state. Not because the students have gotten less talented, but because the teachers have continued to give them an excellent REAL education rather than teach to a test.
    You know you are excellent, your students know you are excellent, and your administration knows you are excellent. It's high time we rise up and show the politicians exactly how excellent our students and teachers are!

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  112. I am a personal trainer and not a school teacher so I will not say that I "feel your pain" because I don't. However, for whatever reason, there are a large number of school teachers in my immediate circles, including many friends, clients and family members. My aunt has a story VERY similar to yours except that her school elected not to renew her teaching contract after 20+ years of exceptional teaching, including being head of the gifted department until it was done away with due to no child left behind. Anyway, I feel terrible that this newpaper is doing this to you but I do hope that the parents of your students, and of course the students themselves, will know the truth. It is a shame that teaching has become a largely thankless profession and you should feel deeply proud of your service to humanity.

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  113. As a parent I do feel that some kind of testing should be required. There should be some way to evaluate how well a student/classroom is learning. I do believe pay increases should be rewarded in part for performance versus years of service. In regard to that however if the appraisal tool is inefficient, its just garbage in garbage out. Perception in the private sector, is that in many areas of the country Unions are viewed as protecting awful employees at the expense of excellent employees. If a third grade teacher is awful it stands to reason the fourth grade teacher is going to suffer greatly the next school year as a direct result. I also think it is very inappropriate that a teachers performance appraisal would be shared with anyone other than that individual. Somehow, someway, there has to be a better way of educating our youth. I know myself I was a horrible student as I was totally bored, and so scared of tests I would of answered that the sky was red from the anxiety of the test itself. Funny, my so-called "gifted child" dropped out of H.S. and my child who never got a A grade has gone on to college.

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    1. Gifted children drop out of school at disproportionate rates. It's why I'm so passionate about the subject--and one of the reasons we cannot rate teachers. You've just inspired my next blog post.

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    2. You may be a parent, but you are woefully ignorant in the basic psychology of motivation and rewards. Please go out and buy the book "Punished By Rewards" by Alfie Kohn if you want to school yourself on the issue.

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  114. “What I want to fix your attention on is the vast, overall movement towards the discrediting, and finally the elimination, of every kind of human excellence – moral, cultural, social or intellectual. And is it not pretty to notice how Democracy is now doing for us the work that was once done by the most ancient Dictatorships, and by the same methods. You remember how one of the Greek Dictators sent an envoy to another Dictator to ask his advice about the principles of government. The second Dicatator led the envoy into a field of corn, and there he snicked off with his cane the top of every stalk that rose an inch or so above the general level. The moral was plain. Allow no pre-eminence among your subjects. Let no man live who is wiser, or better, or more famous, or even handsomer than the mass. Cut them all down to a level; all slaves, all ciphers, all nobodies. All equals. Thus Tyrants could practice, in a sense, “Democracy”. But now “Democracy” can do the same work without any other tyranny than her own. No one need now go through the field with a cane. The little stalks will now of themselves bite the tops off the big ones. The big ones are beginning to bite off their own in the desire to Be Like Stalks.”

    I wanted to find this and share it with you. This is from the Screwtape Letters. Written in 1942. It sums up almost exactly how I feel the standardized test system works in our schools.

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  115. A good example is in childrens sports, everyone gets a trophy. Garbage.

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  116. Finishing my 15th year as a teacher. Not sure if after 150 comments you're still reading, but my message is simple: your children & your parents know what kind of teacher you are, so who cares what is said beyond that? As teachers, we were "A" students, for the most part, and test scores that make you look like less than an "A" teacher sting. It's not who you are or a measure of your worth as a teacher. You are measured by the standing-room only crowd, by the light that comes on behind a child's eyes, and by the handshake or hug from a parent that knows you made a difference in their child's life. Bottom line is, you know what kind of work you do. Sure, recognition would be nice, but that's not why we do what we do.

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    1. I am still reading. When a reporter wrote me asking what my VAM score was, I had to confess I really didn't know. I had seen it briefly and dismissed it as hogwash. Publishing the names took it to a disturbing level. Your point is well-taken, except for the fact that I believe this to be a calculated effort to move established teachers out of the profession in the drive towards privatization. That's the bottom line to me.

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  117. I hate that this is happening to you. I am happy you have an outlet to defend yourself. I am a teacher but this is one reason I refuse to teach a testing level.

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  118. Here's my one complaint with what Simone Ryals says; " But, they’ll know, as my name will be associated with teachers who just can’t deliver, with no regard for actual learning, for instilling the love of learning, for high scores on observations…" Does she think that every other teachers' name on that soon to be published list is less of a teacher than she is? How many of the other teachers are just as dedicated as she is and yet is in the same boat? Why didn't she mention that there will be many other teachers on the list that like her who go above and beyond in their own teaching but will be judged sub-par? This is happening all across the state and country over and over again, where teachers are being unfairly judged by constantly changing tests and test outcomes that are manipulated to artificially show that teachers as a whole are doing poorly in their craft. The folks that bring you these "wonderful" testing measures are the same individuals that are selling school districts the curriculum materials that are supposed to help teach our students the material that they are supposed to master prior to taking the test. The curriculum materials are sub-standard for a reason and that is if they truly did teach the material on the tests there would be no need for districts to ever buy new materials. So every couple of years the text book gurus publish a new and improved set of materials that are guaranteed to raise test scores. We in the teaching profession are fighting a loosing battle when it comes to testing. We all know it and their isn't one thing we can do about it, except complain, and that does nothing but get us labeled as bad teachers.

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    1. I did address that in a comment above. We agree. I didn't include specifics regarding all other teachers because I don't know their exact circumstances in term of how their VAM scores are determined, and was speaking personally about how illogical it is based on my circumstances teaching gifted children.

      It's unfair to ALL teachers, as it's not a fair evaluation system. *Of course* I don't think the other teachers on the list are inadequate. That was my entire point, that this is an unfair evaluation system that the public will not realize lists teachers as sub-par when it's just not true.

      I believe the vast majority of teachers are phenomenal individuals who do far more than the public realizes. Before I became a teacher, I only saw what the pubic sees on the news/tv/movies...and as a result, thought my cynical perception that most teachers are ignorant, lazy, often criminals, and only get into the profession so they can be overpaid babysitters with summers "off" was well-informed. That's what that sentence meant, that the public will see my name (and perhaps your name, along with the names of many other teachers who are exemplary), and think, "Great, ANOTHER lousy teacher. What else is new? Why don't they just get rid of them already? Must be those incredibly powerful unions who keep lousy teachers around indefinitely." When, of course, there's no logic to that at all.

      In fact, when an entire school's test scores influence a teacher's score, it would make sense for people not in the know to see a failing school with many "sub-par" teachers listed as such based on their VAM scores and conclude that the school is failing because all of their teachers are lousy, rather than recognizing that all the teachers in a school received bad VAM scores because the school is in an area of high crime and poverty where education is not valued.

      I hope that clears things up. We need to stick together. ;) A total of 300 people had read my previous few blog posts. Over a quarter million read this one. A blog is sort of a public diary. I know words have power and I should have added in that it is an unfair system to all; but truly thought that was understood, as in, "Just so the world is aware, this is what teachers being called inferior really look like. You're being misled."

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  119. You should wear this as a badge of honor, if only to show how completely idiotic the notion is that a teacher's performance can be quantified. As Albert Einstein once stated, "not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts." Nowhere does this apply more than teaching. Let those who invent these wacky systems put their own performance up for quantification.

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  120. Evidently, I suck as well. Only as a high school counselor, it's because of our graduation rate. Your words are taken to heart by those of us in the trenches with you. There is not enough money in the world that would get me back in the classroom, and that hurts because I LOVE to teach.

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  121. I feel your pain. I am one of those teachers in Caifornia whose name was posted in the paper as "slightly above average". In the same situation, I had several students who got perfect scores on our state Math and LA tests in 4th grade then lost a point or three in fifth grade. Makes me look like a crappy teacher :(. I also taught at our districts Gifted Magnet Elemntary school. Not too much room for improvement in test scores for many students. I was so frustrated. There are sooo many factors that go into a student's scores it just isn't fair to measure teachers so heavily based on them. After 13 years I left public education (both elementary and college) and now I homeschool my own children. Kudos to you for all you do!!!

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  122. This is why education in the United States is a joke.

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  123. The same thing is happening in Georgia. I teach gifted high school biology. My students are already performing above the 90th percentile, but they are expected to "grow" 30% in their group. I have a student that entered at the 97th percentile who did not "grow" 30% last year, according to the state I failed him. That he maintained his level is a victory. Also, the test they use does not measure everything that is in the state curriculum let alone everything I teach. It only measures content that can be reduced to a multiple choice question.
    The new evaluation program may give teachers who teach academically average and below average students a reasonable target and I'm not sure about that, but I know for gifted students it is ridiculous.

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  124. This is the ramification of the “no child left behind” law. Most of the states have adopted the common core standards. All I can say is- welcome to the club. Here in Texas we have been under these standardized tests for a while now and they kept raising the bar until we got about 90+ percent passing. Then they changed the test for a new one and they way they rate you and your school. Is the same thing only now they reset the bar to 50% and next year 55% then 60% and so on. If you with gifted students think are having it bad? You have not been to a red zone school. My school is on the border with Mexico and is on a high poverty area. 10 years ago we were getting pretty good students from Mex. Lately with all the insecurity in Mexico and teachers not teaching in the past 5 years they went from ok and good to really low academically students who besides not knowing their own language they can’t really adjust to the new culture and language. News shock!! These standards and tests will never go away they may change it but they will still exist 20 years from now. I guess some companies have the monopolies on printing and scoring these tests. Is all about money. Blaming teachers and principals can only get you so far to improve a school. Most of the problems in education comes from the students home/community environments. That’s right , you want good students ? make good parents. I had a university professor from korea doing a conference once here in Texas and he was telling us in the room that over there students go for 10+ hours to school. One of the teachers on the crowd dare to ask. ”and how do Korean teachers keep students motivated for so long and how do they deal with all the discipline?” . And he replied , “one, there is no discipline problems in Korea like here in Texas, they are rare instances but not daily as here in schools., Two, they don’t have to motivate students , students there actually study at least 12+ hours after school weekly specially on end of H.S. tests..” He kept on explaining that the values are different each student feels motivated to succeed because they want a better life and bring pride to their parents. Here in the states is different most people who want to succeed do it for themselves. Very few say I need to succeed because it will bring honor to my family. We need to change the way parents raise their children. I often hear parents say to my students “you need to come to school because is the law”, “I don’t have time to take care of you”, “ I have to work”, or “ you have to go to school, period”. Here we have parents trying to take legal action to a school for the way a teacher deal with discipline or the “ I want my kid on Special Ed. “ crap ..(free money), etc. etc. We need to stop thinking that the government owes us something (like S.S.). We need to change the way we all look at School ..is not a day care, or a free pass to education, or a place I can extract some money because I like to live on welfare and S.S. benefits all the time. Sorry to say we as society have taken the most important institution and profession and rendered useless. It should be a privilege to go to school and teaching as a profession should be respected. Yes, there are some bad teachers, but they are bad employees in all professions, even bad doctors and they get paid and respected more than us teachers.

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