I have written more than forty articles in which I have criticized, and in many cases disparaged, the educational mandates that have been created by our politicians in Columbus and that have, inexplicably, been supported by the Ohio Department of Education. While it is difficult to give them credit for anything they do because of their illogical approach to all things they touch, one thing you can do is credit them for their consistency. You can pretty much count on them to make a ridiculous law one year only to come back the next year and change it in ways that are often just as idiotic as their original idea was. They haven’t let us down with their recent changes to last year’s “new and improved” teacher evaluation system, which they kept in place for one whole year before making changes to it. Apparently, they have now created a new “new and improved” system that we will be forced to implement next year.
What is ironic about this is that any clear thinking educator who dared question last year’s system and who gave even a hint of refusing to engage in the ridiculousness of it all was threatened by the powers to be, one of the threats being loss of state funding. Yet, just a few weeks later, the very people who created the mess in the first place are “fixing” it yet again. Apparently, it’s okay if they challenge their own decisions. We’re just not allowed to.
Some of their latest changes are laughable. The whole reason for their intrusion in the first place was to insure that all teachers were evaluated every year. They were just appalled that in some districts that wasn’t happening, so, by golly, they would fix that. They would create a system where every teacher in every district would be evaluated in the same manner every year regardless of the subject they taught. In other words, we were too stupid to do this right, so they would prescribe it for us.
Doing this, they said, would guarantee accountability, which is a term they use any time they can’t think of something else to say. Well, guess what their latest changes include. Why, their latest changes include not evaluating every teacher every year, of course. So, apparently, after one year, they have decided that accountability is no longer important, which I guess is good, since this system had nothing to do with accountability in the first place.
While some of their changes are laughable, others are just plain stupid. Last year, they decided that fifty percent of a teacher’s evaluation should be determined by his or her supervisor’s observations and fifty percent should be determined by his or her students’ test scores. Now, mind you, there is no research to suggest that these percentages are based on anything other than political whims, but that didn’t matter. They deemed these percentages relevant so we were stuck with them.
But, just a year later they have decided to change their plan to allow test scores and supervisor evaluations to account for from 42.5% to 50% of the evaluation each. This will allow up to fifteen percent of the evaluation to be determined by “student surveys, teacher self-evaluation, peer review evaluations, and/or student portfolios.”
I can’t wait to see my second grade grandson’s evaluation of his teacher next year. That should be priceless…worthless, but priceless.
So, the beat goes on; the idiocy continues; time, money, and effort continue to be wasted; and apparently we are powerless to stop it.
But, can’t we at least try?
Tom Dunn is the superintendent of the Miami County Educational Service Center.