Sherman Dorn: Teacher's Hero

Sherman Dorn is a smart guy. He is one of the policy wonks who seems to understand that NCLB is not going to save us. He is fair, and willing to accept what's reasonable with NCLB, and reject the nonsense (most of NCLB). Here is a great example of Dornism (I made up the term just now):
Sick leave

Laura Pohl riffs off the new Center for American Progress report suggesting that districts pay teachers for part of unused sick leave. Many already do, and as the author notes, there isn't much research on the details. I just wish I didn't quite so immediate an interest in this topic. Given the state of my body this afternoon and evening, I'm hoping not to need to use sick leave myself tomorrow.

But enough about me. There's this thumb-sticking-out recommendation as a result of this report: Federal policymakers should amend No Child Left Behind to require information on teacher absence on school report cards. Okay, so we're going to take everything that might be conceivably relevant to performance and ask for a statistical report for each school. Why stop at teacher absences? I suppose with this reasoning, we should ask for data on used textbooks, unusable texts, library resources (don't tell me that they should be called "multimedia centers"!!), roof tiles per scraped student knee, and kleenexes used February 20. For all such proposals of expanded reporting, my advice is to take two budget rescissions and call me in the recovery.
It's this kind of nonsense--trying to change or address all the variables that could possibly affect anything--that is ruining education. It is the reason we adopt crap like Everyday Math. It is the reason we spend hours looking at data that are simply unenlightening due to the weakness of the data. It is the reason district administrators have no idea what to do in light of the data, because whatever they try to do doesn't seem to change the data (I wonder why?).

Let's give teachers a couple thousand extra dollars if they stay after school and tutor the lowest kids. Let's provide late bus service so the kids that need the intervention the most can get home when it's over for the day (often it's the kids whose parent can pick them up that get to stay for extra help, not the kids who have parents or guardians working the late shift, or who take the bus and have no way of picking up their kid late).

If administrators would deal with the money side of their job (the only thing they should really be doing, IMNSHO), and give it to the teachers who want to do the extra work, maybe we could get somewhere. But trying to claim that a teacher who is absent is the cause for a student's failing scores is nonsense. I know of a teacher who was out for six weeks due to surgery whose students had very high scores. Maybe he is just amazing, and an outlier, but I doubt it!

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