Monthly Archives: September 2012

Guidance Counselors? A Luxury Item At Best. Let’s Rotate ‘Em!

Breaking news from the trenches.  It seems the DOE has started sending “excessed” guidance counselors to a new school each week.  What a terrific idea!

Last year, they only put “excessed” teachers on a weekly merry-go-round.  It was fun.  I was there.  “Excessed” guidance counselors and social workers were kept at the same school all year.

Seems that, as of now, some guidance counselors are being put into weekly rotation. They will be assigned to a new school each week.

This makes perfect sense to me.  Say Jasmine, a high school senior in the middle of applying to college, needs help with her applications.  It is so much more interesting for her to meet a new guidance counselor each week.  It’ll be fun for Jasmine to see how long it takes them to catch up with where the last counselor left off on Friday.  It’s good for Jasmine.  Week after week, she’ll learn more self reliance.  So she may miss out on a scholarship.  No biggie.  With 40 weeks to a school year, she’ll get to develop a deep and trusting relationship with 40 new counselors at no charge!

Consistency is way overrated.

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Data Rules! Teacher Evaluation Must Be Tied To Standardized Tests!

It’s perfectly fair.

Standardized tests mean just that: everybody gets the same test.  It’s multiple guess. Just take your pencil and bubble in a), b), c) or d).  Piece of cake. Everybody has a 25% chance of getting the right answer.  That totally levels the playing field, right?

Teachers, please stop whining if you’re afraid your students aren’t so good at guessing. So they may have just arrived in the US and don’t speak English.  So they might have disabilities.  So what?  Your job is to teach them how to guess well.  Give them old standardized tests to practice with.  Drill them ’till they improve their odds.  Maybe you could get somebody from Gamblers Anonymous to help out in your class.  GA’s are supposed to do service as part of their recovery.  Be creative! Your job’s on the line.

Actually, tying data to job performance is a brilliant idea.  Simple. Elegant.  Data is easy to collect and upload and, as a bonus, doing this stimulates the economy.  There are gazillions to be made creating new exams, collecting and scoring data.  It’s a time saver in the work place, too.  Bosses can study spreadsheets without leaving their offices.  No employee observations necessary.   Let’s think bigger.  Imagine how great our country would be if data ruled all the professions?

Medicine?  What if…?

…Surgeons: How many of your patients die in one yearOver 65%?  License revoked. Back to counter duty at the vitamin shop.

…Psychiatrists?  Two successful suicides over a 12 month period – you get a “U” rating and re-assignment as a sentry on the nearest suspension bridge.

…Dermatologists, Gerontologists, Emergency Room specialists?  You fail to cure chronic itching,  persistent irritable bowel syndrome, and there’s a >4 hour waiting period for a stroke victim?  Throw all the data into the computer.  Rank ’em.  Deliver the pink slips.

Other professions?

…Politicians?  (To prevent a system crash from data overload, we need to go easy on them.)  OK, you’re allowed 20 lies per annum.   You’re caught in #21 plus prevarications?  Your seat is vacated and it’s back to your B-job: loan shark.  Keep that data coming.

How ’bout other public servants?  Lessee..

Firefighters?  Simple arithmetic.  Too many fires breaking out in your neighborhood?  Your fault.  Shut down the station and bring in a swarm o’ suits to figure out how to get those inflammatory numbers down.

…Police?  Crime rate on your beat going through the roof?  Ciao.

And let’s not forget…

Lawyers?  Lose 18% of frivolous personal injury cases and you’re barred from within 200 feet of any ambulance.

Undertakers? Your days are numbered.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with American public school education!

That’s right! You heard me.  A plethora of pedagogical pundits are proffering their pov’s about the so-called failure of our public schools to educate our children.  Poverty, high dropout rates, low scores on standardized tests, the dearth of classes in fine arts, music, physical education, the lack of school libraries, computers, books, social workers, guidance counselors…time…money.  Come on peeps!  Don’t you know that abundance is everywhere!  Just stand in front of the ocean, open your arms up wide and feel the abundance.  Once you feel it, it’s yours.  That feeling alone should feed your family for a week.

If you really meditate on it as I do, you’ll find there is absolutely nothing wrong with American public education.  I mean, maybe there are a few tweaks needed.  For instance, everybody whines about how lousy we’re doing with our public schools compared with say, Finland, for example.  Finland has come out on top of the world on international tests.  You see that reindeer?  He’s laughing at us.  Educational historian Diane Ravitch visited Finland.  She observed that classes are small there, there’s no standardized testing, teachers need to complete a 4-year college program and a masters degree to get a job.  So what, I say?  In our poorest neighborhoods, we might have 37-40 students per class, a Teach For America rookie at the front of the room, trying to move the lesson forward counting on the classroom management skills he learned in his five week summer course on how to teach, or shall we say, do test prep?  Compare and despair, I always say.  We’re not so bad off.  These are not significant problems. They’re not too difficult to solve.  Go back to the ocean.  Open your arms again. Ask for an abundance of solutions to ride in on the waves.

I’ve got one.  In Finland, they don’t teach American History from grade school up as we do. So… I propose one simple solution:  stop teaching American History in our public schools. That should get us right back on top of Finland where we belong.