Friday, May 20, 2005

We're # 1

We're # 1
Coyote Blog posted about how the teachers of one school district in California decided not to select a teacher of the year as a protest against the Governator's push to link teacher pay to merit.

I won't even get into how wrong-headed it is to oppose merit-based pay (I thought that pay by seniority went out with Perry Como). To refuse to recognize and reward excellence is even worse.

Coyote Blog quotes Bill Gates:

"Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades; they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life."

The sad part is that this approach hugely underestimates and harms the children it is designed to help. Not to get all Ayn Rand on their asses, but anyone who thinks that kids don't know who's the best in their school is dreaming.

Even in the 3rd grade, I could tell that Randy Antin and Josh Lansky were the best kickball players, and that I sucked in comparison. I didn't need a "Kickball Player of the Year" award to figure this out, I just had to use my eyes. Similarly, I could tell that Masi Oka and Kaneez Munjee were better than me at math, and everyone could tell that I was the champ when it came to reading.

In short, pretending that some people aren't better than others isn't a solution.

1 comment:

Ben Casnocha said...

But yet you support Don Yates' case-study school where they abolish most formal structures of measuring achievement. I think grades need to go but it doesn't mean that winners/losers don't matter. That is the nut to crack and is the subject of a 15 page paper I'm writing over the next few weeks....

Oh yeah - the other big thing on this topic is learning disabilities. The number of students who qualify for learning disabilities has skyrocketed. Basically you need to be able to afford the $2-3k test which documents exactly where you are disabled. Then, you get extra time on tests, can type the SAT essay, etc. The nut here is "When is a mere weakness a disability?"