Ken Robinson teaches at the Alabama School of Mathematics & Science in Mobile.  Like thousands of educators in Alabama, he thinks the proposed RAISE Act is a horrible idea conceived by people who are totally out-of-touch with today’s school systems and the students they serve.  He minces no words in this op-ed in Mobile’s Lagniappe publication.

Here are some of the thoughts he shares:

“The RAISE Act (Rewarding Achievement in Instruction and Student Excellence), like other various education reform legislation that has been put forth in the past several years by state leaders, has a name that sounds soaring, but actually falls far short of progress. The bill’s author, Sen. Del Marsh says one of the bill’s goals is to reward good teachers by increasing teacher pay, pegging it to student performance. Sounds good enough, right? But the way it aims to accomplish this is by resurrecting a system those in and outside of education have recognized as an utter failure: rewarding teachers based on the results of high-stakes standardized testing. 

“The bill will even create a brand new entity to sift and decipher all this new data: “The Alabama Longitudinal Data System Center,” along with a “Longitudinal Data System Commission.” (Who says we don’t like big government?) Marsh notes emphatically that taxpayers need to know the legislature will hold educators accountable for results. I would submit it’s high time taxpayers in Alabama hold legislators accountable for the screwy things they’re doing to education.

“You see, unlike other professions, education is one of those fields where many people assume just because they went to a school — any school — they’re somehow experts in what it takes to make a good one, or a good education system. 

“The fact that some have gone to a doctor at some point doesn’t mean they are qualified to tell doctors and nurses how to do their jobs. Accordingly, politicians may often develop broad objectives and goals for health care, but often rely heavily on experts in the field about how to succeed. This is true for many other fields, but not with education. As we have seen, time and time again, for some reason our state legislators feel like there is no need to follow the advice of experts in our state when it comes to education policy. 

“So, when Eric Mackey, head of Alabama school superintendents, says school system superintendents throughout the state are nearly unanimous in their opposition to Marsh’s bill, it is of little consequence to Marsh and his ilk.

“It doesn’t matter that when you discuss student achievement and learning outcomes, particularly in a state like Alabama, the 1,600-pound gorilla in the room (yes, we’ve grown past 800 pounds) is poverty and its ill effects on classroom learning. 

“Education “reformers” like Marsh, who brush aside the challenges poverty brings to education, and merely say ‘it’s all about what the teacher does or doesn’t do in the classroom,’ only demonstrate their superficial understanding of the problem.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.