Thursday, January 6, 2011

Off to see the wizard

The front page article in the Journal, January 6, 2011, "Graduation rules face initial test" was breathtaking. The percentage of students in the lowest achievement categories was beyond discouraging. Anyone unconcerned is a character from Oz, either the "Scarecrow" or "Tin Woodsman" - no brains or no heart.

As I think about graduation criteria raised in the article it makes me also question merit pay as a litmus test for teachers.

I see a dedicated, talented, hard working teacher in one of the worst performing schools, not earning as much as a teacher working half as hard in one of the most affluent towns.

On the other hand there are teachers who show up every day, uninterested, bored but due to seniority, have little fear of losing their jobs. They need to be dismissed.  

We humans prefer simplicity, sharply defined edges, black vs white choices. I remember how much more I preferred multiple choice exams to essay questions. So much easier.

Well that's too bad because life just isn't that easy and pretending it is produces what's all around us; people behaving as simpletons, demonizing anyone, any group, different from them. It's as true in Washington as it is locally, maybe more so.

Perhaps when we understand ourselves better we might make better decisions and better choices and better laws and find the yellow brick road. I sure hope so.

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