In my fourth grade classroom, we have a quote by Thomas Edison posted on the back wall that reads, “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” While this might sound like a strange motto for a nine year old, it seems to ring true. Failure is a given within my classroom walls. I know this and so do my students. Without failure we can’t learn from our mistakes. Without failure, people tend to give up when the going gets tough.
Coming up on the Nov. 4 ballot is Amendment 3, which focuses on education and teachers. A portion of Amendment 3 requires “teachers to be dismissed, retained, demoted, promoted and paid primarily using quantifiable student performance data as part of the evaluation system”. Amendment 3 would hold teachers directly accountable for their students’ performance on state tests; it doesn’t allow for failure. If a students were to perform badly on state assessments, teachers old and new could find themselves without jobs, regardless of what their district’s administration thinks.
Do you really want to see teachers promotions, demotions and dismissals based primarily on “quantifiable student performance”? Had Amendment 3 passed in the 1850’s, Thomas Edison’s teacher would have surely found herself without a job. Young Edison has been described as a hyperactive child, prone to distractions and considered “difficult” by his teacher.
Educators of the twenty-first century have seen many children just like Edison, yet we continue to educate. Having a single test determine a teacher’s merit is not logical, nor is it valuable to local school districts. Should Amendment 3 pass in November, local districts will be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to create tests for classes which currently don’t have an assessment. Local administration will lose their voice when it comes to teachers contracts. Most importantly, local students will be viewed as numbers on a page instead of amazing, creative minds.
I hope you will join me in voting NO on Amendment 3.