What Would Mrs. Ratliff Do?

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Every student across America has at least one memorable teacher. For Diane Ravitch, it was Mrs. Ratliff—literature loving, demanding, challenging, encouraging, and respectful. She was a teacher who did not produce the hard data that is demanded today. The data-driven education leaders are looking for assessment driven and union-disliking teachers who aren’t so worried about tenure. But why would teachers give unions and tenure up? Ravitch declares that teachers need their basic rights protected and states in her book, “That’s one important reason teachers joined unions: to protect their right to think, speak, and teach without fear” (174). Critics believe that unions are directly related to poor academic achievement, avoiding topics such as economy or communities that students come from. Along with this, they believe tenure should be given up. It is rewarded to teachers after a few years, and it is only given to those who respectively deserve it. The principal is the key factor in deciding this, so he or she should have prior experience in the teaching field to know what to look for. Of course, it is important that district officials and school boards should set up processes for both unions and tenure that are fair and thoughtful, allowing them to evaluate teachers in a more deliberative fashion too.

Teacher professionalism was swept away, and No Child Left Behind changed everything. Assessment was slowly becoming prominent, and officials demanded effective teachers who would raise scores. But what else defines an effective teacher besides scores? In search for these great teachers, one solution was Teach for America—enrolling top-flight students from elite universities to teach for two years in schools enrolling low-income students. But, their inexperience is greatly disputed among many.

So, what would Mrs. Ratliff do now? She left Ravitch with great knowledge, satisfaction, and inspiration—something that cannot be measured. If the officials fail to attract...
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