Mad Scientist Marzano Has Created a Monster

Virtually all of Florida’s public universities have colleges of education. A quick perusal of the State University System of Florida Board of Governors website shows 12 public universities, 10 of which have colleges of education. The only ones that don’t are New College of Florida in Sarasota, and the newly established Florida Polytechnic, in Lakeland. These ten colleges of education are the same ones that train a majority of the people who become teachers in Florida’s public schools.

Florida’s Government as the Mickey Mouse Club

Why hasn’t the Governor or the Florida Legislature compelled the FLDOE to collaborate with the state university system Board of Governors to create an effective partnership between the public school districts and public universities for a sensible teacher evaluation system? The universities are publicly funded, non-profit institutions of higher learning that must be chock full of educational expertise. The infrastructure is there. Yet, our DOE, as well as who knows how many districts (all?) have farmed out an instrument that will have an enormous, often unduly detrimental influence on the careers of thousands of people, to a for-profit company, for no other reason than a lack of institutional vision and sound judgement on the part of our so-called “leaders.”

The FLDOE, the Board of Governors, the various colleges of education, and the many public school districts in Florida don’t even pretend to aspire to a relationship based on a model of cooperation, though even to a casual observer with a very limited set of background knowledge it would appear only sensible that they work very closely together because of quite obvious common interests. Is it really rocket science? Marzano and his associates would have us think so.

Why do we have to leap into another bunch of pseudo-scientific crap just to find out, yet again (as we have so many times before) that it’s all just another collection of repackaged common knowledge, laden heavily with really fancy terms? To the average idiot, I-don’t-really-want-to-teach asshole who decides to become an administrator or district lackey, all this hot air-inflated word stock sounds really well-reasoned and well-researched, and without much further deliberation, they want it. It relieves them of their own responsibility to actually develop a protocol of their own, and they are instantly armed with a very, very malleable weapon with which they can bludgeon teachers they don’t like.

All this, at very competitive prices!

Marzano is the “author” of “over 30 books.” His “works” include, but certainly aren’t limited to, The Art and Science of Teaching: A Comprehensive Framework for Effective Instruction ($26.95), A Handbook for the Art and Science of Teaching ($29.95), Recording & Representing Knowledge: Classroom Techniques to Help Students Accurately Organize and Summarize Content ($19.95), and Revising Knowledge: Classroom Techniques to Help Students Examine Their Deeper Understanding.($19.95). That’s just a very brief sampling. The list goes on and on. A Professional Development Pack runs $495.00 (whew!) and a DVD, Teacher Evaluation: Small Improvements Make the Biggest Difference goes for $74.95. Damn. That must be one hell of a DVD! If you preregister, you can have the three day Journey to Rigor: Building Expertise “Conference Experience” (in Lake Buena Vista, very close to Mickey Mouse) for the cool price of $599.00, with a built-in savings of $99.00!

The Marzano Center says it’s made up of several former university faculty, and it’s easy to see why. There’s gold in them there books. These folks saw where the money is and jumped ship. They have succeeded in repackaging common knowledge, calling intuitive reasoning “theory,” and generally convincing nearly everyone that they are the experts on a profession they know nothing about in practice.

Not long ago, the Florida legislature passed legislation that prohibits any teacher or school administrator hired after July 1, 2011 from being paid on a higher schedule for having a graduate degree. Why would anyone even want to spend all the time and energy it takes to get a masters in education now, if getting one doesn’t get you a raise? Meanwhile, FLDOE is buying research from a private, out-of-state firm that only opened offices in Florida because it found a market. It’s beyond ridiculous. I really don’t think our government likes our colleges of education so much.

One of the worst problems of all with the Marzano evaluation method is that it subscribes to, and therefore reinforces, the mythical notion that virtually all student learning and behavior are the direct result of the behavior of the teacher. Self-proclaimed experts all too often conflate teacher effectiveness with student outcomes. They are two entirely different, albeit related issues. The former has far fewer variables in play than the latter. Consequently, teachers also have far less control over student outcomes than Marzano’s counterfeit “science” assumes.

It makes much better sense that the institutions charged with training teachers in Florida would also collaborate with districts to help develop fair evaluation protocols, than to buy methods and manuals from industry peddlers. We need a process that eliminates the sterile drone-like tedium of Marzano’s “method,” which implies that no teacher is ever good enough, and that we somehow need to be in a constant scramble to get an effective rating based on a nonsensical set of criteria created by a non-teacher, for fear of having some wet-behind-the-ears assistant principal with three years’ teaching experience (sound familiar?) trash us somehow anyway.

What a bunch of bullshit.

The state of Florida and its school districts need to ditch this rotten witchcraft now, while the damage wrought by it so far is still manageable.


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