Not A Good Message Via Comic Strip (Or Any Other Medium)

Family Tree is a comic strip drawn by Signe Wilkinson which is often funny and insightful (coincidentally, thirty years ago she and I met several times in Philadelphia when I was an intern at the nonprofit where her husband worked).

Her comic strip today, though I’m sure well-intentioned, communicates a message that I think is not helpful to the debate about how to improve schools.

It has someone going around asking parents to sign a petition demanding teachers be evaluated by their students test scores, and shows a parent eager signing it. Then a child comes around asking parents to sign a petition demanding that parents, too, be rated, and get a door slammed in their face.

I do not believe “value-added” teacher assessment based on test scores is a good way to evaluate teachers. Parents are allies in efforts to improve our schools, and surveys show that. Let’s engage in dialogue, not ridicule them.

3 thoughts on “Not A Good Message Via Comic Strip (Or Any Other Medium)

  1. I wonder if the comic is trying to demonstrate some irony here? I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt on this. I think she’s with us that value-added, single measurement ratings are a bad idea for everyone.

  2. Bill,

    I’m sure she is, and I suspect you’re right about the use of irony. I think, though, it’s illustrative of an argument that I have heard too often hear in articles and from teachers — that we blame the parents instead of looking for institutional causes of poverty.


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