1. The Value Added Model (VAM) is a flawed, inaccurate formula for measuring teacher quality, as more and more data research groups are finding. Be that as it may, I do not believe that Bill Sanders ever intended for his data to be used for teacher evaluations, teacher compensation, nor license renewal requirements.
2. A quality teacher preparation program can produce more effective teachers than a summer boot camp training. [Of course, we need to be constantly striving to update, modernize, and improve!] Also, I believe the time teacher candidates spend in classrooms with good, veteran teachers is the most valuable training tool we have (and the benefit is reciprocal).
3. Charter schools are often being taken over by corporate entities more interested in turning a profit than in educating children. They are also leading to increased segregation.
4. Teachers cannot be intimidated into improving. They need to be supported, encouraged, well-compensated, and held accountable in a realistic way.
5. 'Merit pay' will never be applied accurately or fairly. (I remember attempts at implementing Merit Pay dating back to the 60's!)
I do believe that there are many good people at the State Board of Education and the TN DOE, who truly believe they are doing the right thing. . . . I believe that they are being led astray by the 'pied piper' of DC mentality in the Michelle Rhee mode. I observed first hand the frenzied efforts to race through the checklist of their reform agenda passing laws, policies, rules, etc. without taking the necessary time to research thoroughly; to gather input from teachers and parents outside of their elite, chosen few; and to develop a plan for implementation that assures all of the pieces are in place and working properly (i.e. the TCAP test results disaster of the past week or so).
I am a firm believer that the best leaders for policy development and implementation should be 'home-grown' educators who understand the cultural landscape in Tennessee, not people from the Washington, DC crowd who come here solely to promote the national reform agenda. Most of the people I reported to in the last two or three years at the Department were extremely intelligent and well-educated, but are younger than my own children and have less than five years of teaching experience.