Letters to the Editor

Viewpoint: Teachers now a scapegoat

The public deserves to know that the Lucia Mar teacher evaluation program, called TAP, passed with a vote of 81 teachers in favor and 50 against, with approximately 450 teachers eligible to vote.

The Lucia Mar Unified Teachers Association leadership downplayed the significance of the elections with e-mails like the one I received from Karl Blum: “This vote tomorrow is solely about an approval to a contract amendment that doesn’t give away any of our association rights that we have been working on to achieve.”

I absolutely disagree with Blum’s statement because the vote creates the illusion that we, the Teachers Association, believe that teachers will work harder for merit pay. Merit pay has been a failure (See the article in “USA Today” titled, “Merit pay study: Teacher bonuses don’t raise student test scores,” Sept. 21, 2010). Teachers have become the nation’s scapegoat for an educational system that deals with poverty, alcohol and drug-addiction on a scale not matched by our international competitors. And who said we should follow another country’s lead anyway? America was great for our originality, inventiveness and problem-solving skills. Look at universities like Cal Poly, with its slogan of “learn by doing,” not learn through multiple choices.

Testing is dumbing down America as we drop essay, research and critical thinking skills so that our students can remember simple facts in a multiple choice format. If students can research and logically think and write, they can look up all those details and know how to apply the information in a meaningful way. It is time for teachers to push back, not join the testing mentality.

What does our leadership team know that our nation’s educators don’t? Our leaders apparently are impressed with the TAP program, but why the merit pay component? We should not continue to take a path that our fellow teachers nationwide have wisely avoided. For additional information that will provide my perspective about merit pay, please visit: http://www.politickernj.com/43734/merit-pay-teachers-should-get-demerit.

Steve Shurick is a history teacher at Paulding Middle School and has been a member of the Lucia Mar Unified Teachers Association for 34 years.