I have to give a lot of credit to Northwest. A few years ago, I sent my child to
another middle school across town. Northwest was bad then. Today, my other child
goes to Northwest, as we decided the recent improvements to the school were
reasons enough to send our child to Northwest. I like the improvements, and it
is clear MUCH progress is being made.Good job to all the teachers,
students and administrators to Northwest!
So, we see success and we see results . . . how did this happen is now the big
question. The usual political reactions come like "firing teachers" and
the use of data to label schools as failures. But the real key here is
supportive, hard-working and dedicated educators who were able to do their jobs
with all the support and resources they needed to get the job done. Our
Republican legislature works to gradually defund our education system and then
brag about how we can do so much with so little. But, in the end you get worn
out, underpaid and under-supported teachers that just can't hang on
forever. Wake up--if you want the job done, you pay for it. And the work that
teachers do at these "at-risk" schools is not the same work that
teachers do at other more privileged schools. Paying them extra for the work
they do is not a "bonus". It's for the work they do. They
absolutely should be paid more. So, now where does this money and support come
from??? I'm looking at you Legislature.
I think simply saying that performance pay was such a large factor for the
change, honors rewards, and an extra 12 days in the classroom is somewhat
misleading. A very large sum of money was utilized. How else was the grant
used? What other structures and supports to parents, students, and teachers
were created? Were there teacher coaches? Was there access to new technology?
I would like to see a more comprehensive overview of how the grant money was
used. I could see some readers conclude that simply using performance pay and
simple incentives would improve our schools, but reality is much more complex
The bigger question is what happens to these kids when they leave Northwest? The
incentives are not in place at the high school. I know about GPAs and test
scores. Do they succeed at the next level? If not, why not? Those are the bigger
questions if you really want a student prepared for college and/or career.
Taking a snapshot is great, but there is a much bigger picture.
but, but, we should never "throw money" at education! Surely this
school didn't really need 2.3 million dollars to make improvements!
Teaching coaches are a waste of time. (sarcasm off)Really,
congratulations to Northwest Middle School. Now maybe the legislature will
notice that more money does help, that resources to help make changes are
needed, and schools don't need to be micromanaged by the state legislative
board of education. (but I'll be surprised if they do notice.)
So what will happen next? The fact that millions of dollars of resource were
funneled into this school will be ignored. The UEA/SLTA also collaborated in
this effort and brought monies and professional development to this project.
That piece gets left out of ALL reporting. Here is what will happen, the
legislature will IGNORE the systemic nature of the work and focus on their idea
of "performance pay" just as the DN has done. Performance
pay=unsustainability, test taking focus, and unproven results. If all you want
to accomplish are higher test scores, then by all means continue down this road.
I think they got some "evil" federal grant (because we know the
legislature wouldn't pony up any funding) to bring resources to the school
that made the difference such as performance pay, more aides, more technology
and more support for teachers, lower class sizes, tutors. And guess what, it
actually worked. Go figure...