Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Randi Weingarten, M.D.

In an interview last weekend, Randi used the flawed analogy that holding teachers accountable for student performance would be as unfair as holding oncologists accountable for the mortality rate of their cancer patients.  She is correct that teachers are not solely (or even primarily) responsible for where children end up in life -- that's principally the job of parents -- but they absolutely should be held accountable for the gain in student learning while in their classrooms.  The NY Sun editorialized about this on Monday:

No one would suggest the doctors be fired for each death, but certainly  they should be, and are, held accountable for performance. This is the role of  hospital internships, strict board examinations, and discriminating patients.  Would that teachers were held to such standards as exist in the oncology ward.

I also wrote something about it in response to a letter to the editor in March ( [The] analogy of "blaming doctors for the cancer  rate" is SO wrong! The proper analogy would be if a patient showed up  at a hospital with symptoms of early-stage cancer and then the doctors: a)  failed to do the proper tests to determine what was wrong; and b) once  determining it was cancer, failed to treat it quickly and properly, allowing it to metastasize into something fatal. If this type of criminal negligence  were being practiced in our hospitals, resulting in uncared-for patients dying left and right, there would be a justifiable hue and cry, yet this is precisely what is happening to millions of children in our school RIGHT  NOW!

Randi Weingarten, M.D.
New York Sun Staff Editorial
September 17, 2007

Randi Weingarten certainly set tongues wagging around the education department when she fell into a discussion with Jay DeDapper on News Forum, a Sunday morning talk show, and compared the membership of the teachers union to medical doctors. "A lot of people don't know about schools but a lot of people do know about doctors and disease," she said. Mr. DeDapper had asked Ms. Weingarten where teachers fit into Mayor Bloomberg's new school accountability model. Ms. Weingarten was explaining why teachers find shouldering accountability for their students' academic performance unfair. "When people say to me, you know, well, why shouldn't teachers be, you know, judged on the test scores of their kids? I say to them…would you want your oncologist, or your mom or dad's oncologist to be graded on the survival rates of his or her patients?"

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