Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Confessions of a Bad Teacher

John Owens:

During a three-decade career as a writer, editor and corporate executive, I traveled to more than 100 countries, met heads of state, and picked up wisdom that I thought was worth sharing. When I left publishing, I was senior vice president/group editorial director at Hachette Filipacchi Media (the bulk of which was recently sold to Hearst Magazines). Now, I was determined to make an impact directly with kids in the classroom, and I set out for the South Bronx.

Little did I know I was entering a system where all teachers are considered bad until proven otherwise. Also, from what I saw, each school's principal has so much leeway that it's easy for good management and honest evaluation to be crushed under the weight of Crazy Boss Syndrome. And, in my experience, the much-vaunted "data" and other measurements of student progress and teacher efficacy are far more arbitrary and manipulated than taxpayers and parents have been led to believe.

If Mayor Bloomberg's team is determined to get rid of "bad teachers," they've succeeded on at least one count: They've gotten rid of this bad teacher. Join me on my short and unhappy experience in the New York City public schools.

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