A Change That’s Only Radical in Public Education
This almost sounds like the beginning of a professional work environment:
Under orders from the state education commissioner, the district this fall will begin filling vacancies in six schools based not on seniority, but on whether that teacher is a good match for the job — and the school.
“I’ve been a principal for 11 years,” said Michael Lazzareschi, who heads the new Nathan Bishop Middle School, “and I’ve never had the ability to pick my own candidates. There’s nothing more exciting than seeing the lines of teachers waiting to be interviewed.”
Although the Providence Teachers Union is threatening to sue, claiming the state education commissioner doesn’t have the authority to overrule a union contract, Schools Supt. Tom Brady says the rank-and-file have shown real enthusiasm for the new system.
“Five hundred and twenty four teachers applied for 75 positions,” Brady said. “That far exceeded our expectations.”
It’s the wild, wild West in school administration:
To avoid any hint of favoritism, the School Department, working with the union, developed an interview process that relies on questions from a common bank of questions that use concrete teaching scenarios and short model lessons.
The interview is designed to measure specific skills: Does the teacher know his subject? Can she demonstrate knowledge of recent research in his discipline? Is he able to demonstrate his knowledge within an actual model lesson?
The other important piece of the new hiring system is mutual consent. Teacher and principal must agree that the school is a good match. There will be no “on-the-spot” hiring.
The whole notion behind “criterion-based” hiring is that it empowers principals to put the right teacher in the right classroom. It also allows the superintendent to hold principals accountable for improving student achievement in their own buildings because they finally have the authority to hire their own staff.
Obviously, union functionaries aren’t happy with the idea that elected representatives and the administrators whom they hire will actually be able to run their schools. What they mostly fear, I suspect, is that the public is no longer going to pretend the validity of union spin regarding the benefits of allowing schools to be run by organizations with political motivations and thuggish tactics. Daylight has cracked under the union rock; all that remains is to suggest that taxpayers — voters — take a look at what’s been revealed.