Monday, July 26, 2010

Who's Next?

By now, you're aware that Michelle Rhee fired about 6% of the teachers in DC.  In some cases, she did this because teachers failed to get their credentials, but in most it's because of their students' test scores.  Supposedly, there's a 22-point system scrupulously followed, but who really knows what Rhee is doing over there?  AFT President Randi Weingarten cries outrage, as this is not supposed to happen.  But what exactly is supposed to happen when you erode tenure and allow demagogues to judge teachers by test scores?

When you have contracts that judge teachers by test scores, and allow their firings based on test scores, isn't it logical to expect teachers will be fired based on test scores?   And if, as in the case of DC, you get no input into how the scores will be used, why do you agree to let them be used at all?  Is it wise to trust in the good graces of a Michelle Rhee?  Those are questions DC teachers should be asking union President George Parker, and it's tough to imagine he has satisfactory answers.  Perhaps that's why Parker, whose term has expired, has not permitted an election to take place.

Honestly, how could you vote for a person who's subjected you to job loss based on factors largely beyond your control?  Could Parker have anticipated that Rhee would use tests not designed to assess teachers and fire teachers on such a ridiculous basis?  Perhaps not.  But I certainly could have. 

Now it's entirely possible that Joel Klein is too principled to mess with people's livelihoods on such a frivolous basis.  But given that he specifically requested the ability to dismiss teachers on an "arbitrary and capricious" basis, I doubt it.  Supposedly, Mulgrew will have to negotiate how "value-added" is used to assess teachers.  But since there is no valid way to use it, how will he do that fairly?

Will he decline to do it at all?  One would hope, but wouldn't that make it look like we were anti-"reform?"  What would Bill Gates have to say about that?  More likely they'll work something out, and after two years of bad ratings, tenured teachers will be dismissed after 60 days.

But it's not all bad news.  On the brighter side, UFT employees at 52 Broadway will not be judged by test scores.  No matter how many city teachers are fired, they will continue doing whatever it is they do over there.
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