Think about the immense accomplishment of safely putting a human being on the moon and then returning that person back home to planet earth. Truly, it's almost unreal when you think about the size and scope of the achievement... and yet, we did it.
But to listen to teachers in America today say, "There is no way to measure teacher effectiveness," you'd think that interplanetary travel was nothing but a puny science activity compared to the beast that evaluating the professional work a 7th grade English teacher in Anaheim, California would be.
I just don't buy it.
I mean right now I can fire off an email through a mobile, handheld device from the center of Detroit, Michigan that could be read in China, forwarded to South America and then replied to by a person in Israel all within a matter of minutes, yet gathering reasonable insight into the professional performance of the math teacher down the hall is entirely unachievable?
And we should stop saying it is.
Obviously, this opens up a whole can of worms as to "how" we can measure teacher effectiveness (because that is the real question) so over the course of the next few days, months, and so on, I will speak to a variety of the "how it can be done" aspects to this conversation.
Not that I actually have all, or even any of the answers.
But I do know that the first thing we all must recognize is that yes, it can be done. It is not impossible. It is not beyond human capability. It is not a smaller feat than inventing the wheel, discovering fire, harnessing electricity or slicing bread.
So how about we ask that all teachers in this country take a deep breath and admit the obvious: it's possible. Truly, before we are able to measure teacher effectiveness, we are all going to have to calmly acknowledge that yes, indeed it can be done.
It might not be easy.
It might not be quick.
It might not be cheap.
It might not be impeccably flawless beyond the pale of any and all criticism (because so many other things in this world have risen to that level so why shouldn't measuring teacher effectiveness do the same? Author's note: dripping sarcasm.)
But it is not impossible.
I do wish cooler heads would prevail for this national conversation. Before we can measure teacher effectiveness we are going to have to realize that splitting the atom, mapping the human genome and getting a taxicab in New York City in the pouring rain have all been done.
Measuring teacher effectiveness can be done as well. The question is not one of "if" but of "how".
And like I said, more on that in the posts ahead.