U.S. Reps Zoe Lofgren and Mike Honda, as well as a myriad of political and civic leaders, must be congratulated on securing the regional site for one of four patent offices in the country. This is a huge win for Silicon Valley.
However, the accomplishment will be less meaningful if we don’t create a public education system that represents the ideals of the area and ranks first in the nation. We need a system in Silicon Valley that produces talented and innovative students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), as well as the arts, with high-quality public school teachers leading the way. Today we know better than at any time in our history what the “patent” is to build a high quality teacher.
One key factor on developing teacher quality is evaluative feedback that is meaningful. We can learn a lot from what has been done with the 3,000 or so videos of teachers funded by Bill Gates and directed by Thomas Kane, professor of Education and Economics at Harvard Graduate School of Education.
The New York Times recently announced its second annual SchoolsForTomorrow Conference seminar titled, “Building a Better Teacher.” It will be held on Sept. 13. Teacher quality, as it relates to increased student achievement, is a conversation we must have. At the same time it cannot be used as a forum to bash teachers or the profession.
Let’s encourage some public organization that cares about education in this county to organize a meeting of concerned school trustees, teachers, and district and school leaders to come to see the live streaming from New York. Then, working with a steering committee, they can put together a comprehensive action plan to focus money and energy on Silicon Valley teacher quality. It is an essential factor to meet the SJ/SV 2020 goals and to improve all schools.
Professor Thomas Kane will be one of the 14 presenters at the Future of Education summit sponsored by the NY Times. If teacher evaluation and feedback is the main focal point of the action plan, the organizational effort will be worth its weight in gold, or Apple and Google’s common stock. Our local teachers must be involved at the start of the discussion and participants in the live streaming.
Other points that should be on our local agenda under the umbrella of teacher quality are:
• Pay-for-performance models that are working across the U.S.
• Changing the role of teachers
• Teacher training and professional development
• Developing new models for tenure
• Using technology more effectively
Due to a planned vacation this will be my last column until August. Thank you for reading.