Tuesday, December 12, 2006

More on nonsense in the California legislature and school reform

See the prior post for more.
SB 1209 (2006) was an omnibus bill containing a wide variety of issues, included among them was the mandate to move forward with performance assessment without funding.
The focus in the hearing on SB 1209 was a number of provisions designed to increase the number of teachers in California. Omnibus bills are put together when a wide variety of interests agree to a number of issues. The Governor’s office was a central player in bringing this bill together. There is no reason to accept this bill as a measure of actual opinion in the legislature, the mandate provisions were not discussed. The writers do not know why the prior hesitance of the Dean’s of Education were not advanced, however the mutual relationship, known as the compact, between the Chancellor’s office of the CSU and the Governor’s office seems a likely source.

There are a number of ideologically conservative groups who mis use education research to promote their own ideologies, charter schools and usually keep their taxes low. Among these folks are Alan Bersin and Margaret Fortune of the Governor's Office. We need to take these folks seriously. However, little is gained by us trying to out do these folks. Instead we need sensible, reasonable, public education campaigns and targeted approaches to legislators.

What would a political response include? We need to speak with other faculty in the field. Initiate and sustain dialogue among the professionals. Most faculty are accepting this legislative intrusion as natural. Help them to understand that PACT and TPA’s are a choice.

We need to develop ways to invite parent participation, particularly parents of the children currently not doing well in our schools. Writing goals, standards, and TPA’s, for the teaching profession should be in dialogue with teachers, parents, and professionals, not only the non representative, middle class, bureaucrats of the CTC.
Start communicating with our Senators and Assembly members to let them know you want this law changed to put more emphasis on teacher preparation rather than punative assessments.
Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper expressing your concerns. Illustrate the dangers of this law with specific and compelling examples. Emphasize concrete alternatives that would do more to improve the preparation of teachers. Use letter writing, blogs, and other tools to de mystify the rhetoric around TPA’s and PACT. Establish a system of monitioring of the media to respond to the over simplifications.
Duane Campbell
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