Perhaps no practice is a better distillation of the blight that is teacher unionization than bumping. I’m with Julia Steiny in thinking that it ought to end, but the suggestions of the Business Education Partnership that she describes in her column, yesterday, are worth considering as half-way measures:
To professionalize education personnel practices, Blais and her colleagues put the focus squarely on evaluation. Rhode Island is one of only a handful of states that do not mandate that teachers be evaluated. In fact, most Rhode Island teachers are never evaluated in any meaningful or helpful way.
Blais says the key to an effective and fair evaluation system is to use several different measures, instead of just one principal’s say-so. Evaluations should include objective, quantifiable information, such as student achievement, as well as administrator and peer observations. The resulting evaluations should place teachers at one of four levels: master, pre-master, basic and below basic.
With these categories in hand, teachers would no longer be interchangeable. Any teacher with two consecutive below-basic evaluations could be let go. (At last!) No basic teacher could bump a master, no matter how long he or she has been in the system. Only master teachers should be peer evaluators.
It is an abomination that, in a profession that begs for inspiration, we permit no measure of quality.