kitchen table math, the sequel: Tri-State Consortium la la la

Friday, March 12, 2010

Tri-State Consortium la la la

So I was saying that all of Westchester County, of a sudden, is gripped by the conviction that a high-quality school means a school with in-house, embedded professional development & plenty of it.

In-house, embedded professional development = instructional coaches. Teachers for the teachers. Tenured teachers for the teachers, no less.

Come to find out, Concerned Parent has seen the same over in CT:'s that stupid tri-state consortium mind-set. It's all the same buzzwords in my district: professional development, math coaches, no perfect curriculum, 21st century skills. My district actually believes we're falling behind because we have no math coaches-- it has nothing to do with Everyday Math and CMP2 and balanced literacy. Nothing.


TerriW said...

Sounds ... expensive.

Catherine Johnson said...

oh it's sooooooo expensive!

more is more

Catherine Johnson said...

I am now lobbying intensively for evidence-based decision making.

It's our only hope.

Since there is no evidence instructional coaches actually raise student achievement, let's let all the other districts hire them and see what happens.

Catherine Johnson said...

The insanity of this is....we are constantly being told, by central administration, that our teachers can't teach well. At Tuesday night's board meeting, the new Interim Director told us that McDonald's workers get more on-the-job professional development than teachers do.

Meanwhile, when you read the math survey parents took last year, they repeatedly cite the teachers as being good & the curriculum as being bad.

Catherine Johnson said...

It's especially gutsy to come up with a fad that requires the hiring of an entire new tier of quasi-administrators in the midst of the Great Recession.

And to do so with no evidence whatsoever that having instructional coaches "model" lessons for classroom teachers will have any effects on the students themselves.

Catherine Johnson said...

And-----the district is not hiring instructional coaches on the basis of student achievement data.

It's not as if we're linking individual student achievement data to individual teachers & promoting the teachers who produce the greatest gains.

As far as I can tell we're hiring teachers for the teachers the same way we hire teachers for the kids: without reference to results.

Since that strategy has apparently produced a cadre of teachers in desperate need of "professional development," how is it that the coaches won't also need professional development?

Of course, the answer to that is: they will. They will, and even if they didn't, the law requires it. Districts have to fund X-amount of professional development every year.

We'll be paying tenured teachers for the teachers & on top of that we'll be paying vendors to provide professional development for the teachers of the teachers.

Good news, though.

We've also paid a consultant to produce an 'efficiency study.'

I am guessing the efficiency study is **not** going to say "Hire teachers who raise student achievement by at least one year in one year's time."

Catherine Johnson said...

Parents are saying they'll move out of town the instant their kids graduate. This is widespread. The school has badly damaged the town's ability to exist as a town.

Anonymous said...

In my district out here in California we are cutting K-2 class size reduction (back up to 30 from 20), middle and high school counselors, and numerous other supports. We are however, KEEPING our 3.5 "literacy coaches" in our small district of 3 elementary schools, 1 middle and 1 high school.

Part of the argument is that coaches support new teachers. Problem is we are laying off all the new teachers. These lit coaches actually represent a hidden administrative cost, as it's the admins who want them. They are de facto assistant principals for principals who have next-to-no curriculum expertise. We've had coach positions for 12 years now... yet we are still seen as needing continuous prof. development. Unlike puberty, one never gets to the end of one's (professional) development.

Ironically, our current coach is less experienced than most of the staff at our school. The coaching thing has become a sacred cow that should have dried up long ago.

SteveH said...

"no perfect curriculum"

This translates to "We get to decide any you don't."

But then they turn around and put all kids into the same room with the same curriculum. The curriculum has to suck becuase their teaching model sucks.

None of this would bother me if parents had the ability to go somewhere else. I don't care if a company has a union or how much Six Sigma training they have or if they are ISO 9000 certified. I can judge the product just fine, and I'll wager that most parents can do the same if schools weren't allowed to have such unknown products. Our school only publishes a very vague list of goals and topics for each grade, I don't know what goes on in classes, and everything gets hidden away in portfolios!

They want involved parents, but we don't get the tools to even help them do their job. We get questionnaires that ask us if we have enough information to help with our kids' math homework. It's an incredibly bad product for the price we pay. Clearly, parents will make better decisions when it comes to their kids' education, and it will be based on their individual needs, not the need to improve low cutoff test numbers.

I don't want to play their game and argue whether they should have coaches or not. Coaches could be a great asset if they were used to ensure consistency and mastery of basic math skills. Obviously, that doesn't happen, but arguing against coaches just means that I'm playing their game according to their rules.

The only thing that will really change schools is the ability of parents to walk away. No arguing. Just walk away.
Then, magically, the goal becomes a good education for your child and not fixing the schools, and schools will start paying attention to parents, not the other way around.

Allison said...

Same buzzwords here in MN too. It's the same everywhere. Don't think you can move somewhere else.

There is total homogeneity in schooling in the US now. And it is all atrocious. Can't wait for those national standards to provide even more homogeneity!

Catherine Johnson said...

anonymous -- thank you so much for posting

Catherine Johnson said...

Awhile back someone asked me to post more of our TriState Consortium report.

I think it's time.