Letter to President O’Bama

Filed Under (Civic Action) by Susan Vinson on 15-10-2010

Here’s the E-mail that I sent to President Obama in October. I’m certain that he’ll never see it, so I wonder why I bothered to write it? I haven’t heard back from him yet ….

Dear President Obama,

     I am very discouraged about the “reforming” of education through the “teacher evaluation” process. It misleads the public into believing that education’s woes are due to bad teachers. Everyone can think of a bad teacher they have known. But as an educator at a fantastic school- every year I watch fabulous teachers leave the profession for higher paying jobs in other professions. They don’t leave ONLY for the higher pay- but because they no longer feel respected and valued for their hard work and effort. Where is the effort to retain them?

   Please put an end to using goverment funds to force states to create new evaluation systems which are expensive and unnecessary. We already have evaluation systems. Principals already have the power to remove bad teachers. There is a process, with due process protections to protect both the teacher and the schoool or district. Some principals are reluctant to use the process- but it is there already.

Tying teacher effectiveness to test scores would be great- if there were a way to do it -fairly, and across all teaching disciplines. (special ed., art, music, PE, speeech, guidance, etc.) But this is impossible. What is the correct level of music or art for Kindergarten? Tie teacher pay to test gains? Who will want to teach unmotivated students?

In contrast-when high stakes testing came to FL- my school recognised that the tests taken in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades- started in K, 1, and 2- and each grade level and subject area contributed to help prepare students.

For example, our Art, PE, and Music teachers included more reading and math vocabulary.

   Teachers ALREADY desire the success of their students. We care and we work hard. We don’t need “incentivising” like a salesman at a car lot. We are insulted by the legislators who make states fight for funds at the expense of common sense. Please, please, please- rethink these aspects of “Race to the Top.”

Sincerely,

Susan Vinson