Monday, December 20, 2010

Where the Teacher Unions will go

Here's a little bit from Professor Gary Anderson of New York University that I found at the Huffington Post.   Where might the future of education and unions lie?   According to Anderson, with Peer Asssitance and Review (PAR):

So teachers unions must continue to defend teachers' wages, benefits, and pensions, but they will be vulnerable to attack if they allow themselves to be defined as roadblocks to innovation and protectors of bad teachers. Perhaps more ominous, many working class Americans who failed to protect their private sector unions are now turning on teachers, whom they view as overpaid and with fat pensions.

One approach that has begun to change the image of teachers unions is Peer-Assisted Review or PAR. It involves peer evaluation of teachers that addresses teacher induction and development as well as due process issues. The peer evaluator and teacher meet with a board made up of district administrators and union officials who ultimately decide on the outcome of the peer-evaluation. This system not only allows for a more collegial form of evaluation and support, but also involves both the district and the union in decisions about teacher quality. This system has also been shown to be more effective at identifying incompetent teachers and either making them better or moving them out of the system. More in depth information on PAR can be found in Jennifer Goldstein's book, Peer Review and Teacher Leadership: Linking Professionalism and Accountability, and on the Project on the Next Generation of Teachers.
PAR may be the future, but the steps taken so far in Montgomery County fall woefully short of an effective system.   The foundation is in place, but we have not taken the next steps to strengthen it.   The best way to stregthen it would be for Montgomery County co cut administrators out of the evaluative process altogether.   They are unable to offer supports that teachers need.   They are unable "to show" teachers how to teach.      They are unable to use the PAR process as it was intended, because they find it too tedius to place teachers in the system.   The system needs to be implemented by teachers from beginning to end.  It needs to be  more complete and continuous.  Trust me when I say this: if teachers were in charge, the evaluation process would be far more effective than it is now.

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