Mick Zais is the State (of South Carolina) Superintendent of Education. And the U.S. Department of Education has just approved his plan for evaluating teachers and principals.
And that plan is a step in the wrong direction. That’s not altogether surprising given that Mick Zais has never taught children. Yup, you read that right, but I think it bears repeating: Mick Zais, who has devised a plan for evaluating SC teachers, a plan he contends will improve learning, has never taught children.
What kind of sense does this make?
Now, you might assume that Zais developed this plan with the help of educators (which would make sense) or that he solicited feedback from educators and incorporated that feedback into the design (which would also make sense). But you’d be wrong. Educators overwhelming oppose Zais’ plan. In fact, they proposed an alternative plan—one that he all but ignored.
Even the State Board of Education voted (11-3) in favor of the alternative educator-proposed plan and against Zais’ plan. Why? According to the resolution passed by the State Board, the plan fails to provide “valid, reliable or meaningful data on teacher or principal performance and would be counterproductive to improving the quality of instruction provided to students in South Carolina.” Which is true. But Mick Zais could care less (neither, apparently, could the U.S. DOE).
I could go on in detail explaining what I think about Zais’ plan is wrong, and I could provide you with research that proves it, but I won’t (maybe later). Today, my focus is on why his plan is wrong. His plan is wrong because he’s never taught children and because he has blatantly ignored the expertise of those who have. My point is simple:
When we’re really ready to fix the problem with education in this State, we’ll turn to the experts, the people on the front lines, the teachers. And we’ll take them seriously.