Massachusetts Continues to Dismantle Its World-Class Educational System

When we last checked in on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (God save it!), we observed that teachers were being drowned in administrative work and subject to ridiculous teacher evaluation procedures. Well, now we learn that Massachusetts is proposing to pull the teaching licenses of teachers who have a bad evaluation (boldface mine):

Massachusetts has taken a bold leap forward by extending the misuse of student test scores. The proposed revisions in the licensure process are a masterpiece of bureaucratic gobbledygook, but then, they have to be– because if the people who wrote these exquisitely stupid rules had written them plainly, it would be obvious just how foolish they are.

There are three proposed versions (A, B & C) of the new system, and they all share one piece of twisted DNA– they link teacher evaluations to teacher licenses. Not pay level or continued employment in that particular school district– but licensure. A couple of below-average evaluations, and you will lose your MA license to teach.

There is no profession anywhere in the country that has such astonishing rules. Good lord– even if your manager at McDonalds decides you’re not up to snuff, he doesn’t blackball you from ever working in any fast food joint ever again! Yes, every profession has means of defrocking people who commit egregious and unpardonable offenses. But– and I’m going to repeat this because I’m afraid your This Can’t Be Real filter is keeping you from seeing the words that I’m typing– Massachusetts proposes to take your license to teach away if you have a couple of low evaluations.

It will not surprise you to learn that those evaluations would include all the usual groundless baloney. Student Impact Ratings– did your real student get better test scores than his imaginary counterpart being taught by an imaginary average teacher in a parallel universe? Did you successfully climb the paperwork mountain generated by a teacher improvement plan (duly filed with the state department that doesn’t have time to do the work it has now, so good luck with the new influx of improvement plan filings)? One version of the plan even allows for factoring in student evaluations of teachers; yes, teachers, your entire career can be hanging by a thread that dangles in front of an eight-year-old with scissors.

We’ve discussed the idiocy of using various valueadded tests before, so we won’t rehash that here again.

Peter Greene is (uncharacteristically) wrong: all three plans (pdf) allow “Satisfactory results based on Student Feedback through a Survey or other means” to be part of the license renewal. Talk about letting the inmates run the asylum. That’s insane: teachers will have no authority in their classrooms at all once students figure this out. Needless to say, this won’t help teacher recruitment either:

I would point out to the people pushing this that it’s a great way to chase people away from teaching in Massachusetts ever. I would point out that young people interested in starting a teaching career might favor a state where that career can’t be snuffed out because of random fake data that’s beyond their control. I would point out that this is one more policy that will almost certainly make it even harder than it already is to recruit teachers for high-poverty low-achievement schools. I mean, most states are settling for evaluation systems that punish inner-city teachers with just losing that particular job; it takes big brass ones for Massachusetts to say, “Come teach in a poor struggling under-funded low-resource school. Take a chance on the job that could end your entire teaching career before you’re even thirty.” Who on God’s green earth thinks this is a way to put a great teacher in every classroom?

… First, Massachusetts will become one more state where teachers choose to work only if they’re forced to by personal circumstances like friends and family or if they have no other options.

This is insane. It will harm, if not break, Massachusetts’ system. For the life of me, I do not understand what problem (other than the supposed problem of teachers unions) this is supposed to solve. The cure is worse than the disease. It will make Massachusetts kids dumber.

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2 Responses to Massachusetts Continues to Dismantle Its World-Class Educational System

  1. colnago80 says:

    Maybe one thing the Democrats could do is stop running losers like Martha Coakley, who, in the bluest state in the union. has now managed to lose twice. I note that you posted a link a few days ago to a commentary saying she wasn’t such a bad candidate. When you lose twice in the bluest state in the nation, you stink as a candidate.

  2. RJ says:

    Unlike Mike, I do understand the problem. It is that rich people have not managed to capture enough of the nation’s money, and therefore demand that students be screwed until they have more. But I’m sure I’m preaching to the converted here.

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