Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Wheels of Change Spin Elsewhere

With New York now evaluating teachers based on four benchmarks, highly effective, effective, developing, ineffective, the state lines up as perhaps the biggest state ready to receive Race to the Top funds. I just don't see these same conversations about evaluations happening in Maryland, which is disconcerting. Instead its just a lot of bickering and blaming, which is not a win for anyone. A new evaluation system will allow us to dismiss ineffective tenured teachers more expeditiously, and put in place merit based incentives for the most effective teachers. From An Editorial from the New York Daily News:

A teacher rated ineffective would be entitled to coaching. After two ineffective ratings in a row, a district could seek termination before an arbitrator mandated to accept the rating as significant grounds for firing and to decide within 60 days.

Such sureness and speed would be a marked break from the near impossibility of letting an incompetent teacher go today... Only instructors who wound up on the lowest rung for two straight years would face a swift ax.

Dan Brown, a teacher in New York, remarked that this is actually a win for teachers. I cannot agree with his logic more emphatically. As he puts it in his opinion piece from the same paper:

Teacher evaluations were long overdue for an overhaul. Last year, fewer than 2% of New York City teachers were rated "unsatisfactory." You can practically count on one hand the number of city teachers fired for incompetence over the past two years. That's crazy, and it reflects poorly on all teachers to have such a softball system in place.

Maybe what Maryland needs is an article about rubber rooms or some other travesty of our educational system for more people to hop on board the reform train. Colorado's aboard. I have intentions to write the Montgomery County Board of Education on this matter when things slow down at school (at the local level, the Board of Education must initiate evaluation changes). When I do write, I'll be sure to report what I find.

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