The education reform community’s obsession with “accountability” is based on the premise that teachers are motivated by rewards and punishments to work harder, and teach better. But this approach to accountability is predicated on the view of teachers as disengaged “workers” who are not intrinsically motivated, and must be coerced by threats and extrinsic measures.
The truth is that virtually all teachers are already working as hard, and teaching as well as they can, and are not motivated by the various “carrots & sticks” dreamed up by the reform crowd (which usually consists of a single carrot: merit pay).
You want to see a teacher work force with better morale, and create improved working conditions in schools?
Then let’s try treating teachers like professionals again.
Stop the unannounced “walk through observations.”
Stop evaluating teacher effectiveness by using student test scores.
Stop hiring uncertified, unqualified novices to teach in our urban schools. I’m looking at you, Teach for America…
Recognize that cramming 40, 50, and even 100 kids in a classroom isn’t a “bold, innovative experiment”–it’s dangerous, and bad practice.
Trust teachers to pick out their own text books, create their own curriculums, and write their own lesson plans.
Encourage teachers to attend professional conferences, don’t expect them to pay their own travel expenses, and provide subject specific professional development opportunities for all teachers.
Stop the endless parade of standardized tests that narrow the curriculum and pervert the true purpose of education.
Stop appointing federal and state education officials who have never taught, never sent their own children to public schools, and are hostile to public education.
Vote for politicians who understand the value and importance of strong public schools to our nation’s future, and vote for adequate school budgets at the local level.
Oh, and thank your kid’s teachers. They are doing heroic work under incredibly difficult conditions.