Preemptive Support for Evaluations
Is it too cynical to be suspicious of union enthusiasm to develop evaluation standards for teachers?
The Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals has received a $200,000 national grant to develop a much more demanding method of evaluating and mentoring new teachers. The union will work closely with four urban school districts: Providence, Pawtucket, Central Falls and Woonsocket.
“The union is tired of being portrayed as a protector of bad teachers,” said union president Marcia Reback. “We have no interest in having incompetent teachers in our classrooms. We want to have good, rigorous, substantial evaluations.”…
The peer-evaluation system would work as follows: a consulting teacher would observe, evaluate and mentor between 8 and 10 novice teachers over the course of a year. In the spring, the consulting teacher would recommend whether the new teacher should be awarded an additional contract. A board comprising administrators and union representatives would make its recommendation to the superintendent, who, in turn, would offer advice to the local school committee.
So a group of union reps and administrators (often previous members of the union) translate a union member’s review of another union member to the superintendent, who brings it to the elected representatives on the school committee. Sounds like an attempt to derail evaluations that would involve more stakeholders, such as students, parents, and taxpayers, at a more fundamental level.
It always rankles, by the way, to hear union executives talk about “our classrooms.” Perhaps public clarification of ownership is in order.