“Teaching is a caring profession–a humane profession about human beings engaging with one another,” says Brian Jones, a former New York City public-school teacher now pursuing a PhD in urban education. “Relationships between the teachers and the learners are an important part of the whole process.”A recent article in from In These Time, reports how this may be changing, as excerpted below:
“Jones and other teachers worry that the new system of teacher evaluations slated to be implemented this fall in New York’s public schools will take caring out of the equation.
“The new system, which was imposed by state education commissioner John King after the United Federation of Teachers and Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration could not negotiate a deal, willbring millions in federal “Race to the Top” funds to the city’s schools.
“In a statement, Michael Mulgrew, the president of the UFT, wrote: “New York City teachers will now have additional protections and opportunities to play a larger role in the development of the measures used to rate them. Despite Mayor Bloomberg’s desire for a ‘gotcha’ system, as Commissioner King noted today, New York City ‘is not going to fire its way to academic success.’” He pointed out that there are additional opportunities for teachers to challenge violations of the process by supervisors before they get their ratings.
“But UFT members now face the possibility that they could lose their jobs if they receive “ineffective” ratings two years in a row. Teachers will be ranked “highly effective,” “effective,” “developing,” or “ineffective”—or, as John Surico at the Village Voice describes it, “Instead of pass/fail, we now have more of a letter-grade-esque method to grade our educators with more lethal consequences if you earn too many Fs.”
“The deal requires that 20 to 25 percent of the teacher’s rating come from state tests, another 15 to 20 percent from “measures established by the school” (which Jones says are likely to be more tests), and 55 to 60 percent from in-class observations or video-recorded performance assessments by principals.’
“But an “ineffective” rating on the tests trumps the other measures. Jones explains, “Teachers rated ineffective on the tests have to be rated ineffective overall. Even a glowing teacher with great rapport with her students, if the test scores don’t rise at the predetermined level, that teacher has to be rated ineffective. Carol Burris, New York’s 2013 Principal of the Year, criticized this aspect of the system in the Washington Post, calling it a “foolish inequity, with real life consequences.”