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Alert the Media: Teachers and Unions Want Teacher Evaluations

by Alec on April 3, 2012 · 9 comments

    From all the Fox News and Rush Limbaugh propaganda you would think that teachers and their unions love terrible teachers. In fact, you would think that most teachers and their unions hate students more than the plague. Even public education’s staunchest allies now think teachers are horrendous monsters. If you are a teacher, you are probably terrible, and even if you are not terrible, you are protecting someone who is. Maybe that is why teacher morale has dropped 15% and is at a decades low level.

   The truth, of course, is much different. The biggest threat to our underprivileged students is not the few bad teachers. Those teachers can, are, and will be fired if they have good administrators. Teachers want evaluations. My principal is in my room all the time. He was in my room observing the first week of school. It is always a surprise visit. All of our teachers are blessed with this constant evaluation. No one is trying to protect bad teachers, but retaining good teachers is a much bigger problem. Teacher turnover is much, much more traumatic to student learning.  

   What we do not want, is corporate sponsored evaluation schemes meant to dehumanize teachers and privatize education. Maine was the last state that Students First took on. In that state, Students First literally cut and pasted A.L.E.C. legislation to lobby for. Do we really think the A.L.E.C. agenda is right for Minnesota and our kids? If you want the best in depth look at what A.L.E.C. and Students First are trying to do to public education, visit the Parents United site. These are real reformers who truly care about kids.


Now, about that specific law that Students First and A.L.E.C. want in Minnesota. Join me after the break to see what happened when the privatizers at Students First got their way in New York City

      You can read here about New York City’s worst teacher. Go ahead. She is so labeled in the opening paragraph. They did a great job hounding her about why she cared so little. Why she was so terrible. They even asked her dad why his daughter was such a horrible, horrible person. She was able to be labeled the “worst teacher in New York City” exactly by the same legislation that Students First wants in Minnesota.

     The funny thing is, she is a fabulous teacher. She works in an A rated school with a top rated principal. That principal is confident enough that she would enroll her own kids with this teacher, and has publicly stood up for her. The margins of error on these Students First type evaluations are +/-30% for math and +/- 50% in English. For this, a top teacher at an A rated school is labeled the worst in the city of millions. This is the bill Students First is lobbying for.

   Following is the obvious result of market based competition:

In the District of Columbia, contrary to expectations, reading scores on national tests dropped and achievement gaps grew after a new test-based teacher-evaluation system was installed. In Portugal, a study of test-based merit pay attributed score declines to the negative effects of teacher competition, leading to less collaboration and sharing of knowledge.

Indeed, reviews by the National Research Council, the RAND Corp., and the Educational Testing Service have all concluded that value-added estimates of teacher effectiveness should not be used to make high-stakes decisions about teachers.

–Teachers who perform poorly are more likely to perform above average in different periods. It is very dependent on the class make up

–Teachers who score well on bubble filling tests often do much worse on more cognitive and challenging tasks, and vice versa (they just teach to the Students First test)

Please read the article on the horrific things these testing criteria do to good teachers. Please read why most outstanding countries reject this idea on its face.

Oh, and the head honcho of Students First? She is under federal investigation. So, side with A.L.E.C. and known privatizers, or side with public education, students, parents, communities and teachers. You make the call.

AO April 3, 2012 at 2:12 am

I’m sure you’ve read this article from the strib, but if not here’s a quick refresher:

If all it takes to fire poor teachers is a good administrator, we must have an awful bad set of administrators.

From the article: “Minnesota does not tabulate how many teachers are fired for poor performance, but the practice appears rare. The closest indication is the main appeal route for fired teachers — arbitration. Records show that since 1992, only 10 Minnesota teachers fired for poor performance have challenged their dismissals all the way through that process.

Many school administrators say that because it’s so difficult to winnow out bad teachers, principals and superintendents pick their battles too carefully. The result, they say, creates a culture of indifference and indulgence.

“They only go down that path in the absolute worst possible scenario, where they don’t have a choice,” said Eastern Carver County Superintendent David Jennings, who has also served as a legislator and Minneapolis schools superintendent. “It institutionalizes mediocrity.”

NashwaukNarcissus April 3, 2012 at 3:14 am

There are lots of arguments like this post out there trying to make a case for the status quo when it comes to teachers. No one seems to want to address the fact that all this bill does is makes it possible to replace teachers whose tenure has made them complacent in their mediocrity. Find anyone who thinks we need to protect more bad teachers and I’ll show you an EdMn employee or a bad teacher.  

Alec April 3, 2012 at 3:42 am

The post IS NOT making the case for the status quo. Did you even read the title?

The bill, if you would read it, puts into place evaluation criteria that are proven to make education worse!

No one is trying to protect bad teachers. We are trying to protect our kids from the corporate takeover and privatization of our schools. These folks literally want the separation of school and state.

This isn’t an argument about evaluation yes or no. the answer is yes, but how.

This isn’t an argument about getting rid of bad teachers. No one wants them.

NashwaukNarcissus April 3, 2012 at 4:35 am

The bill does absolutely NOTHING to put teacher evaluations into place. NOTHING.  The fact that you think it does makes me question your competency to write on this (or any other) topic. The teacher evaluations that will be the base of this were signed into law LAST year. They are already law. This bill simply says that the evaluations should be used for something constructive. The Unions and bad teachers want the evaluations to go into a drawer and never be used for anything of worth. I encourage you to learn about the issue before you hop on your soapbox and tell others to do likewise.  

Alec April 3, 2012 at 4:43 am

The law absolutely uses the wrong tools for evaluation to determine retention. If you read any of the articles, you would realize that the tools signed into law, that will now be used for retention decisions, are counterproductive to good education.

Is it so important that you destroy labor that you are hell bent on privatizing education so that only rich kids can get a good education? I am just frustrated that people like you keep putting your fight against labor ahead of what is best for kids. As someone who works with them every day, I take it personally. Kids should come first.

CD8Jim April 3, 2012 at 11:47 am

Its clear you haven’t read the bill. You aren’t aware of any of the basic building blocks of this argument. You are simply parroting EdMn talking points that you clearly don’t understand.

The evaluation system has not been created yet, so when you argue that it contains the wrong tools, you prove that you have no idea what you are talking about. It’s fine. Zelotry often thrives in people short on facts. I just wish you would be honest enough to admit that you are not actually aware of what the bill you seem to hate actually says.  

Alec April 3, 2012 at 3:48 am

Someone with your logic would say….

If I am against abstinence only sex education, I must be against all sex education period.

If I am against balancing the budget on the backs of the poor, I must be against balancing the budget entirely.

If I don’t think we should privatize medicare, I must not want to reform medicare at all.

If I am against market based, destructive teacher evaluation schemes, I must be against all evaluations.

In what world does that logic work?

Bill Prendergast April 3, 2012 at 3:15 am

public schools, dedicated to discrediting public schools and replacing them with privatized education, voucher systems and charters and any other scheme designed to weaken America’s committment to public education…

…how does a group with that agenda, get to write legislation affecting public school teachers and teaching? Isn’t that like letting S.P.E.C.T.R.E. write legislation that regulates James Bond?

The Big E April 3, 2012 at 11:26 pm

“S.P.E.C.T.R.E re-writes MI6 agent rules of engagement”

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