Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Effective in his Ineffectiveness

The term "teacher accountability" has long been uttered from various quarters, and the teachers usually see red when they hear the term because a disproportionate percentage of those who use the term have some sort of agenda which is hostile to the teachers.  A number of years ago, when I served on the board of a Jewish day school, there were many an anguishing moments involving the question of teacher accountability.

I am all for teacher accountability, but teacher accountability is meaningless unless there is administration accountability, school board accountability, student accountability and parent accountability.  If you are not pushing for accountability for all, then chances are that you have some sort of ulterior anti-teacher motive when you say the words "teacher accountability."

New York State has recently instituted a new system for evaluating teachers.  It is called the Annual Professional Performance Review.

The teachers unions are, of course, against it, and while I normally do not side with the teachers unions on too many matters, I really, really am most skeptical at the entire concept behind the APPR.  Teacher effectiveness is difficult to quantify.

If my teachers were effective in teaching me, they were effective because they were given nearly absolute backing from my parents (the few exceptions were for good cause, including an instance where a certain vice-principal made an illy-veiled anti-Semitic remark to my Mom, and then wondered why I continued to have a piss-poor attitude about school for the remainder of the school year).

The APPR system requires teachers to submit various data and documents to the evaluators, who will then use those documents to rate the teachers.

But Craig Charvat, a teacher at Center Moriches High School on Long Island who has 15 years of experience and a known track record and reputation, refused to submit any documents.  He did it as a protest against the APPR system.  Because he failed to submit the required materials, he was rated as Ineffective.  And he has stepped forward to identify himself to the public.

One problem with the educational system is that it now teaches students what to think instead of how to think.  I do not know what Craig Charvat's politics are.  What I do know is that the best way to teach is by example; actions speak louder than words.  Craig Charvat's actions are effectively teaching his students (whether enrolled in his classes or otherwise) that one need not let "the system" do the thinking for them.  Craig Charvat's actions are teaching his students that sometimes one must take risks by standing up for what one believes.  Craig Charvat's actions are teaching his students that the governmental authorities are not infallible, and need to be questioned from time to time.

Would that all teachers be as "ineffective" as Craig Charvat.

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