Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Teacher Quality does Count...

... so measure it. Last week both Rob Panningmiller and I were quoted in a StarTribune article about the edweek.org release of their annual "Quality Counts" measurement of education. What was curious was that "Teacher Quality" in Minnesota received a D+ and so that was the focus of the questions asked of both Rob and me. You have to go beyond the label and look at the measurement however. When I think of quality teachers, those I have taught with, those who have taught my children, and those I learned from, I immediately think of how well they grasped their subject matter. Was that counted in "Quality Counts"? No. I also think of what evidence of being a life-long learner is present so that my students and my children can see that learning takes many forms and they are encouraged to press on. Did "Quality Counts" measure saturation of advanced degrees in our state? Number of National Board Certifications? No and no.

I also love to teach with teachers who love to teach. That seems fairly common, so I don't think that makes me unique. However, from this job, I know that teachers do all we can to maintain that love of teaching amidst weak support. Programs that are rolled out poorly, mandates that are funded with dollars that used to go to music teachers, field trips, and custodial service; and administrators who are not ready for prime time, all contribute to high burnout and low morale.

Now that I think of it, I see who deserves the D+, but it's not our teachers.

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