Blue Cereal Education: Teacher Evaluations (Hammers & Nails)
Based in Indiana, a recent post on this blog takes a look at teacher evaluation in the current age, influenced by an underlying philosophy that uses punishment as the first resort. He shares the tale of a teacher trying to grow for whom evaluation provided no help at all.
We’re both in northern Indiana, and both of us moved here from other states. One thing we’d noticed is that in ultra-conservative states, the official solution to almost any problem is “punish them more.” If that doesn’t work, “punish them harder” or “punish those around them” pretty much exhausts the limits of legislative imaginations. None of that restorative-nurturing-touchy-feely nonsense here! All problems are nails – poverty, mental health, crime, poor schools, crumbling infrastructure, general malaise and despair. Fortunately, the state has a big hammer and uses it regularly and gleefully.
In their defense, they genuinely believe this demonstrates their concern over social ills and the like. It’s WJWD.
Local governments – right down to school boards and building administrators – have learned that, as middlemen of sorts, they have two basic options. They can become hammers themselves… or end up nails. The practical result of this is that in the local public schools, “accountability” and “high standards” have little to do with figuring out what works, and much to do with demonstrating that bent nails will not be tolerated. (Or straightened.)