Performance Management and Education

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Poster for Babb's production of Mom and Dad, s...Working in Human Resources has taught me one thing: nobody knows performance management.

Companies spend millions of dollars to measure employee productivity and efficiency. Suites of software are installed. Metrics are established. Goals are set. And within weeks, some HR chick finds herself in the middle of the same old dispute she heard last year:

Is the employee a 2 or a 3? Did he meet or exceed expectations? And are the employees in one group being measured the same as the employees in another group?

The same formal and informal fallacies never go away. We still manage to screw up the annual review process despite our best efforts to circumvent human nature through technology, data and metrics.

It’s a mess.

Move these problems to the classroom where teachers responsible for educating a future generation of restless, nutritionally-deprived, internet-addicted children and it’s an even bigger mess. Good luck measuring performance — test scores, reading ability, comprehension — for kids whose parents are disconnected from reality and use the public school system as a daycare center more than a place for education.

Of course, not all parents are lazy and irresponsible. Not all kids are dumb. But not all teachers are chumpsters, either. Just like most employees get in the way of their own good work, many parents get in the way of a child’s education. When a kid fails, it’s all about the blame game.

It’s the teacher! It’s the unions! It’s the school system! We need unregulated, free enterprise charter schools!

What Mom and Dad fail to realize is that they are also victims of educational cuts in public education during the Reagan administration. They’re not as smart as they think they are and their understanding of what a school can and should be was influenced — knowingly or not — by a guy named William Bennet. He’s a right-wing Christian conservative pundit with a gambling problem.

School is political.

And if I were a teacher with a real passion for students, I would say, “Eff this. I’m going to work in South Korea.”

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We are all on the side of kids, but I would say that I’m on the side of socking parents in the jaw. You can’t feed your kids Diet Mountain Dew and beef jerky and expect your children to succeed at school. There is no such thing as too much homework. What else would your children be doing? Playing outside? Hahahahahahahahaha, let’s not kid ourselves.

And it’s not the job of a teacher or a school system to advocate more passionately for your children than you do.

So you want teachers to be evaluated based on a set of performance metrics. Okay, which ones? How well does your company or your boss really measure your performance? How big is the gap between your perception of performance and what your boss thinks of your work? Knowing what you know about your annual review process, do you want those same principles applied to teachers?

I wonder — can we start rating you as a parent, too?

But you’re right. The teachers unions totally suck and are unreasonable.

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