Really? Teachers are unevaluable? Who's buying it?

Yesterday's article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer was titled Teachers' Seniority Rights Under Assault in Cleveland, Across Nation. The article highlights the growing battle over seniority provisions in collective bargaining agreements that favor more experienced teachers over newer ones, regardless of educator quality.

Cleveland Teachers Union leaders say that they "fear giving too much authority to principals who might make unjust, arbitrary decisions, or tying their futures to test scores that urban districts struggle to raise."

Similarly, Thomas Ash at the Buckeye Association of School Administrators believes that standardized tests and "potentially subjective appraisals" are not reliable measures of performance. Instead, he favors traditional teacher seniority provisions because they're "a nice, objective measure."

Really? There's absolutely no way that we as educators can come up with better indicators of teacher quality than seniority? We can't use either "objective" student achievement data OR "subjective" appraisals by educators (or a blend of these plus maybe some other measures too)? What else is there? Is the intersection of no student outcome data AND no evaluative appraisals an empty set?

I don't think I'm willing to allow P-12 educators to essentially say they're unevaluable, and I don't think the American public is either. It’s this kind of thinking and verbiage that gets in the way of needed progress and essentially cements the reputation of American schools as hidebound institutions incapable of making necessary change.

Stick a fork in the system; yet another sign that it’s done?

Photo credit: Duel

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

4 reasons Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for universal basic income

In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.

(Photo by J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
  • The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
  • Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
Keep reading Show less

Dead – yes, dead – tardigrade found beneath Antarctica

A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.

(Goldstein Lab/Wkikpedia/Tigerspaws/Big Think)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
  • The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
  • Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Keep reading Show less

Why I wear my life on my skin

For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.

  • In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
  • This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and objects that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
  • Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way."
Keep reading Show less