I’m not going to get into it too much, because it angers me beyond measure. The value-added scores are designed to punish those who teach ELL students. The fact that a teacher committed suicide as a result of the scores (though admittedly this cannot be proven yet) suggests that the report is beyond simply irresponsible and into a realm that is dangerous.
If a newspaper had ranked a soldier based upon the percentage of “targets” he hit and then a soldier committed suicide, Fox News would be ranting about how unpatriotic it is to insult public servants who are giving it their best and fighting on the front lines for our freedom. I guess you’re only heroic if you drive a tank and not if you help children learn how to read.
Regardless of whether the cause of death had anything to do with The Times, the reality is this: shaming teachers publicly does nothing to improve education.
On a public radio discussion board, I read people who compared this to the Enron crook who took his life. Wrong. This was a man who devoted his life to teaching and who was publicly shamed when his students failed on a flawed test.
How did we become the scapegoats?
News flash: When the economy was going strong, teachers didn’t get pay raises. We didn’t get second homes. We didn’t get fat 401k’s. We also weren’t publicly shamed, though we were often privately mocked. People saw teachers as crazy for doing something that was pretty selfless for such little money. And maybe we were. And are. But here’s the thing: I’ve never seen our profession so publicly demonized in my life.
When the economy collapsed we took pay cuts and furlough days. We listened as people griped about how unfair it was for those with government jobs who had such great security. Again, we sat on our hands, because, in general, we tend to enjoy the teaching gig.
Now I watch as Wall Street crooks run for Congress and a man who is supposedly progressive blames teachers for the faults of the broken economy. Somehow it was my fault that the economy collapsed. It must have been the lessons on the Mexican-American War or perhaps the day I was volunteering before school to teach blending to an eighth grader who couldn’t read because he had spent most of his years watching younger siblings rather than attending schools.
The LA Times like all other newspapers are slowly losing their subscribers. In another decade or two they’ll hopefully be gone entirely. Let me be the first to smile and say “good riddance, Times, you’re responsible for the death of a decent teacher. Let’s hope your demise is full of shame.”