Give students more incentives to learn

The Colorado Legislature has adjourned, but not without doing more damage than usual.

Not the least of the destruction was waged when the legislators waddled their substantial posteriors into the classroom and proceeded to pontificate on teachers and how they should conduct their business.

We could write it off as cheap entertainment when the Legislature decides to tell other people how to do their jobs, even though it’s not cheap and it’s as entertaining as fingernails on chalkboard.

Still, it must be dealt with.

One thing that legislators love is money, but they can’t see their way to paying students for decent grades.

One supposes that the more farsighted of them don’t relish the precedent. If school kids could be paid for hard work, taxpayers might suddenly hit on the novel approach of a pay-for-performance plan for the Legislature.

No legislators, however, are about to subject themselves to the same metrics they merrily apply to everyone else.

Not a pretty prospect, that, for the legislators. Who, after all, wants to be outearned by minimally precocious kindergartners. So the Lege stomped that idea to death.

No money for learning! That would be a bad lesson. On the other hand, if you’re interested in contributing to a re-election campaign, the ear and palm are open.

On yet another hand, though, the Lege decided to tie teachers’ jobs to other people’s accomplishment. More specifically, the Legislature tied the teacher’s job security to the performances of the teacher’s charges.

On the surface, this seems reasonable. Hey, Josh McDaniels’ job is pretty much dependent on the performance of Kyle Orton, Eddie Royal, Champ Bailey and so on.

If it’s good enough McDaniels, why not for teachers?

McDaniels, though, gets to pick his team. That’s why Brandon Marshall no longer is on it, despite his universally recognized abilities.

Ask a teacher whether her or she can remove the disruptive, embarrassing, incompetent or truculent and you’ll get an eye roll the likes of which are usually reserved for those dimmer than Carlsbad Caverns at midnight.

The bill approved by the all-seeing Lege would expose teachers to the loss of tenure if their students decline in student-assessment tests for two consecutive years.

That provision has the Colorado Education Association fired up and that is the bill’s single, and singular, virtue.

The association would do its members, and children, a gigantic favor by taking aim not at test scores, but at giving teachers a way to deal with the aforementioned disruptive, embarrassing, incompetent and truculent, to say nothing of the chronically absent, lazy and insufferable. And their children, too.

It’s fashionable for supporters of such legislation to say, well, there’s nothing that can be done about incompetent parents. Fair enough.

But the Lege, to say nothing of the CEA and other organizations, have done nothing to empower teachers to deal with the kinds of behavior that Josh McDaniels, or any normal employer, would tolerate for 37 nanoseconds.

Teachers have to suck it up and hope for the best. Fortunately, many are able to.

Give them a little something to help motivate — hey, it works for legislators — and the results would be stunning.

On the other hand, the motivations established by the likes of legislators run counter to their professed desires.

Kids aren’t stupid and when they’re introduced to freebies from Day 1— free breakfasts, free lunches, free everything — they figure out quickly that accomplishment isn’t a necessary classroom outcome.

Let them earn a couple bucks for mastering multiplication tables in elementary school and they might come to grips with calculus in middle school.

We all know that will never happen, but here’s what will:

People who are tired of sending their children to schools that can’t or won’t manage their charges will look elsewhere — to home schools, charter schools or other places well beyond the reach of the education association — and the Colorado General Assembly.


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