Accountability starts at the top. It does not start in the classroom. There is, of course, a strong case for teacher accountability. The low student performance outcomes in American schools is a systemic problem and begins at the top and then flows down through the organization. We are dealing with a leadership problem, not a teacher problem. As a nation we have failed to design and implement a cradle to graduation program to support and prepare our students to be world class competitors. Teachers must be supported by a systemic approach that insures student success. We are dealing with a leadership problem, not a teacher problem.
Before we as a nation begin to design and implement tough teacher evaluation programs we must address systemic problems that influence student performance. If we continue on our current politically expedient path we are going to arrive at a place where we hold our nations teachers accountable for things over which they have no control. The end result will be little or no meaningful K-12 school reform.
Federal, state, and local policies and practices often do more harm to student performance than good teachers can overcome. Our nation has a poor track record compared to other leading industrial nations in the areas of protecting the health and welfare of young children living in poverty, national research based curriculum, researched based instruction delivery programs, teacher training, teacher support, teacher evaluation, student and parent responsibilities, and legislator and policy maker responsibilies. Some students arrive in our classrooms suffering from damage that impairs the teacher’s ability to treat them. In a hospital emergency room the E.R. physician would call in a specialist or send this type of patient to another hospital. In a school the classroom teacher is very often left holding the bag. Some students are being damaged by the raveges of poverty and the lack of child health, nutrition, and welfare infastructure faster than good classroom teachers can repair the damage.
A national education provider evaluation system must include all levels of players, from federal policy makers and governors down through district and school administrators, teachers,students and parents. Attempts to reform the system by crucifying classroom teachers will fail. Accountability is needed but, it must be system wide.
copyright 2012 Joseph K Boeckx