Thompson: An Apology To Craig Jerald
"On Her Majesty's School Inspection Service." Rereading Jerald's "Movin' It and Improvin' It" after a week's distance, and in the context of his call for an inspectorate-type system, I realized that the tone of my report was inappropriate. I still stand by my argument that it is impossible to maintain a "movin' it" approach that creates "churn" and still have effective professional development. "Churn" in an age of "accountability" creates a fearfulness that is not compatible with high-quality professional development. I am still suspicious of reports issued by think tanks that might show a great deal of balance but whose publicity materials are more slanted. And I stand by my position that the mixed messages sent by reformers make it inevitable that legislators and administrators would mandate destructive policies. But, frankly, I had forgotten that it was Jerald who had written the outstanding inspectorate report (although some of the bitter reaction it prompted also provides more evidence for my case) and it prompted me to reread his latest with fresh eyes. So, Mr. Jerald, please let me try again.
I strongly disagree with your statement regarding the effectiveness of the "core mechanism" of "churning." You do not make a case that it can be effective in improving teacher quality in urban schools. You certainly did not make the case that "improvin' it" can coexist with "movin' it'" within the context of this poisonous climate of teacher-bashing.
I have long supported the efficient removal of ineffective teachers, while opposing the collective punishment of test-driven accountability which reduces the effectiveness of most of us. I have long contrasted the actual words in reports published by the CEP, and other advocates of reform, and their spin. I have long argued that they represent collective punishment directed towards effective teachers who teach in ineffective schools.
But, I should not have done the same thing to you. I should have argued against the points you made, and not let my frustration with the CEP color my reading of your work. In this report, you sounded supportive of peer review, and when you reminded me of your report on the value of an objective inspectorate, I realized that I had done to you what too many "reformers" have done in regard to the professional judgments of veteran teachers. Besides, you may have a better way, politically, to get us out of the blame and shame game that was caused by the way that the "movin' it" approach has historically been implemented.
Please accept my apology and do not let my snark overshadow the substance of my argument.-JT (@drjohnthompson)Image via.