Teachers, administrators and politicians came together at an education forum at Novi Middle School Monday, held by the Novi Education Association, to discuss Michigan's responsibility toward educating its population. Panelists spent part of the evening talking about teacher evaluations.
"For one thing, we have to stop bashing teachers,” said Kathleen Straus, D-Detroit, of the state board of education.
Teacher evaluations are not meant to destroy them but are meant to help them do their jobs better, she said.
A teacher from the audience told the panelists that he was concerned about his performance being based off of his students' tests because of a new evaluation starting next year where 25 percent of a teacher's performance is based on student scores on standardized tests.
Jennifer Almassy, a teacher in Reese Public Schools, near Saginaw, had the same question. She told panelists that she sees her students purposely fail tests, thinking they are a waste of their time. She said she doesn't want her performance as a teacher based on those test results.
>>Watch video of her address to the panelists above.
Panelists also talked about the concern that the best and brightest Michigan students aren't interested in pursuing education as a career. The way teachers are treated, which includes how they are evaluated, is often a deterrent for those interested in the field.
Dennis O’Connor, president of Novi schools board of education, said teachers start with salaries of around $40,000. He asked why they aren’t paid more but admitted that, as a member of the school board, he isn't able to pay them more.
“Teachers want to be professionals but their contracts are structured as if they’re on an assembly line,” he said.
Straus said providing better salaries is one way to attract potential teachers, but it's more important to respect them.
"We entrust our children to them,” she said. “And then we don’t respect them.”
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