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A bigger question

May 12, 2010
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So, here in Colorado, S.B. 191 (the “Teacher Effectiveness” bill) passed. In case it was hard to discern earlier, I actually don’t object to the bill in theory. Rather, I am unsure of its practical applications, and unsettled by what it represents.

As I read the original article I posted more closely, a couple of questions lingered. One was about the statement that supporters of the bill hoped to have teacher support “in the end.” The very research that bolsters arguments for focusing so much on teacher quality suggests strongly that, of all other “things” in the classroom, the teacher is the most important. So why aren’t teachers considered to be important or skilled enough to develop these reforms in the first place, instead of (grudgingly? Enthusiastically?) giving their approval “in the end”?

I also wondered why teachers are scrutinized in this way, when members of other important professions aren’t. For instance, why is there no similar bill for doctors? Here in America, we actually have some of the worst health outcomes in the Western world. Moreover, doctors deal daily with urgent matters of life and death. Shouldn’t doctors’ jobs depend upon “objective” measures of patient health? Maybe– but what about all those times we as patients fail to take the full course of a prescription, or don’t exercise when we know we should, or any of a number of things that can affect our overall health? What about those of us who can’t act on a doctor’s orders, because we don’t have the money or other means to do so? Should our doctors be sanctioned if we develop preventable diseases or die prematurely?

Why are teachers held to a different standard?

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