Discover more from Fred Klonsky in Retirement
We can end edTPA in Illinois.
Send a witness slip today.
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Over the 30 years I was a teacher I had maybe a dozen student teachers.
Like many of my teaching colleagues I saw having a student teacher as a professional obligation.
Plus I liked having new blood in my room. The truth is that I stole more than a few ideas from them.
There is a part of the student teaching relationship between mentor and mentee that goes back to the old idea of the journeyman and apprentice.
Which reminds me of Adam Konwerski.
Adam was a millwright in the plate mill at the United States Steel’s SouthWorks plant where I once was his apprentice before the old Chicago steel mills shut down.
I have told the story before how I would be down in the grease and slag, preparing a broken shear to be repaired and how I would look up at Adam - he had been doing this job for decades - and I would say something like, “Hey Adam. How come I’m down here shoveling this grease and slag and you’re up there smoking a cig and holding a flashlight?”
Adam would look down at me, shake off some ashes from his cigarette, push his hard had forward on his head and say, “Ka-lonsky. Dey pay me for vat I know, not for vat I do.”
For the years I worked there, Adam was my mentor and I learned lessons about repairing shears in a hundred-year old steel mill and I learned from Adam some lessons about life.
As a student teacher I spent a semester in the art room of Richard Wellman at Kelvyn Park High School which is about a mile from my home.
This was in the mid-80s and Mr. Wellman was a great guy, a good teacher and as far as I could tell, the students liked him. What I didn’t know at the time was that he was dying of AIDS.
So, for periods of time Mr. Wellman would go to the teachers’ lounge to lay down. He still had time to observe me teach, go over my lesson plans and critique them. It wasn’t the typical student teaching experience but because of Mr. Wellman’s illness and his way of confronting the plague, it was a meaningful one.
Just as with Adam Konwerski, my time with Richard Wellman taught me lessons of work and life.
A few years after I retired from teaching the state of Illinois adopted a new way for student teachers to get certified.
It was called edTPA.
It was awful and fundamentally changed the relationship between the journeyman teacher and the apprentice.
edTPA was an onerous and un-tested teacher performance assessment, marketed by Pearson, a private company. The ISBE voted to use it as the sole instrument for determining teacher certification for student teachers and was approved by the General Assembly with no evidence it was any good.
Of course, the ISBE had no research the showed that an online narrative and videotape submitted to a private company was more reliable and more meaningful than traditional student teacher evaluations done by field instructors and cooperating teachers like me.
Who needs evidence? We are talking about the field of education where administration changes their demands more often than you change underwear and there is never, never and evaluation when it comes time when they change again.
But the bottom line was that it upended the relationship between the veteran teacher and student teacher.
In those early years of edTPA I blogged endlessly in opposition.
I drove down to Springfield on numerous occasions and sat through legislative hearings and filled out countless witness slips.
Over the years there has been some chipping away at the edges of edTPA, but it remains.
Today I received an email from my friend and former Maine South High School teacher Sandy Dienes.
Sandy has been a relentless organizer against edTPA.
This could be it!
A new bill has been introduced to eliminate edTPA! HB4241 may have a hearing tomorrow. Please send a witness slip in support! I'm sending the fact sheet and will also send the instructions to submit a witness slip.
You don’t have to be a resident of Illinois to send a witness slip.
How to file a Witness Slip for HB 4241:
2. List your name and contact information. Under “Firm, Agency, Business,” and “Title,” you do not have to list your professional affiliation if you don’t want to (although it helps). Instead, please list something like “educator, concerned citizen, parent, etc.”
3. You can repeat this affiliation for who you are representing, or you can simply say “self.”
4. Mark yourself as a proponent of the bill
5. Click “record of appearance only”
6. Agree to the terms
7. Click “submit”
Do this today.
HB 4241, which calls for an end to a required teacher performance assessment thereby getting rid of edTPA in Illinois is in the Education Committee. There is a hearing tomorrow at 2PM.
I don't know whether Rep. Scherer plans to call the bill tomorrow, but it's Witness Slip and Co-Sponsor time.