I already wrote about some of my misgivings re: New Jersey's application for Race to the Top funds. Now I read that the NJEA has officially opposed the state's application. (Read the NJEA's official statement here.) The NJEA's main objection involves tying student test scores to teacher evaluation and teacher pay. There's a real concern that the RTTT will mean more standardized tests for our students, and more classroom time spent "teaching to the test." I'm concerned about that, too. Don't we test our students enough?
There's also a concern about the costs of all this testing. The RTTT grants will run out fairly quickly and then Districts will be expected to maintain the funding of additional testing, etc.
Plus, I just hate how this RTTT stuff has been so rushed. New Jersey wasn't going to participate, then suddenly it was. And the deadline to the Federal Government is less than two weeks away! If we could have come up with coherent, cost effective, smart and meaningful education reforms in a couple of weeks, why haven't we done it as a state before now? It just seems a bit desperate and somehow fishy to me...
But then I look at all that RTTT money they're dangling...(how much would make it to Ridgewood?...another worry). It's tempting. I've heard comments like "if the federal government is giving out money, we should do whatever it takes to get our share."
There are parts of New Jersey's plan that I like -- for example increased use of technology to assess and track individual student performance over the years, and inform teaching based on student needs. I also like increased professional development to ensure the highest quality teachers and teaching.
The NJEA is not the only state teacher organization to oppose the RTTT. The California teachers' union has also opposed California's participation. (There may be others, I just happened to check California.) This dissension could be problematic for states, as one of the government's requirements is that states must show full support by teachers, school boards and districts.
If our District wishes to be considered a "participating district," we will need to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) next week. I haven't seen the agenda for Monday night's Board meeting yet, but I expect the RTTT to be on it. If parents have an opinion about RTTT, please contact a Board member or Dr. Fishbein, come speak at the Board meeting, or post something here.
Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org