"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Checking the Fact Checkers

FactCheck.org was at the Republican Convention when Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, gave his keynote address. They wrote,
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie largely avoided factual claims in a Republican convention keynote address that was heavy on generalities, opinion and platitudes.
That's true...but one of the purposes of political conventions is to fire up the troops, not to drone on about issues. The convention is an important part of the campaign...and part of its task is to get everyone excited about the candidates.

But I think FactCheck.org got it wrong,
Regarding teachers, Christie said he ended “the guarantee of a job for life regardless of performance.” That’s correct. Christie worked with a Democratic Legislature to make significant changes to the tenure system — even providing a path to fire tenured teachers with negative evaluations.
The implications of the above sentences are two sides of the same coin. 1) Tenure guarantees teachers a job for life regardless of performance, and 2) once a teacher is tenured they can't be fired even with negative evaluations.

Those statements are false. I understand that part of the situation in New Jersey was that the dismissal process was long and cumbersome and that was corrected by the new legislation. However, streamlining a process is not the same as ending "job for life tenure" and "providing a path to fire tenured teachers." There is no such thing as a "job for life" for public school teachers. There already was a path to fire tenured teachers. There is generally no such thing as tenure for public educators.

Let me explain it one more time.

The statements made by FactCheck.org perpetuate misconceptions about teacher "tenure". Most public school teachers do not have anything like "tenure." What they have is "due process." Once a teacher reaches permanent status (which is defined differently in different states) they must be provided with due process before they can be fired. Tenure is not a guarantee of a job for life. Due process guarantees teachers a fair hearing before they are fired. As far as I know all due process laws provide that teachers can be let go if they get negative evaluations and do not improve.

There are no jobs for life. Teachers can be fired. Administrators need to do their jobs, evaluate teachers and document problems...just like teachers do with students.

Diane Ravitch had a guest blogger, Kenneth Bernstein who wrote an article, Why is there a movement to end tenure on her blog. In the article he wrote,
Tenure is nothing more than a guarantee of due process in disciplinary matters...“Tenure” for public school teachers does not prevent teachers from being dismissed for good cause, provided that administrators do their jobs properly. That would start with properly screening those who are hired, properly supervising them before they earn tenure, and documenting any incidents that might warrant disciplinary action after tenure is earned.
FactCheck.org, your implication that teachers had a "job guaranteed for life" is incorrect. Your implication that teachers were not able to be fired for poor evaluations is incorrect.

Please fact check this and see if I am correct.
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Stop the Testing Insanity!


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