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October 25, 2011
September 03, 2009
After reading about the eleventh-hour teacher evaluation deal brokered by Governor Andrew Cuomo (see the New York Times report here) in my local newspaper (which I’m not divulging, to protect the innocent), I turned the page and was drawn to a regular section of the paper called “Restaurant Inspections.” Like its cousin, “Police Blotter,” this is where the dirt is, so to speak. And I read about many of our local restaurants, in detail that I’m sure did not make the owners very happy. Here's one with five violations:
I wondered, What if these restaurant inspection results were sent only to the restaurant’s patrons? Why do they have to be published in the paper for all to see?
That is essentially what the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) convinced the state legislature to do for its public schools last week: Only the parents of students in a teacher’s classroom shall know if the teacher is serving up unrefrigerated content.
I’m sure some will object to the analogy, but there’s no doubt that this is not the last we’ll see of this can of worms, opened last January by a state judge in New York City, who ruled that teachers’ value-added scores—with their names—could be made public.
No teacher wants his or her scores posted to the Internet, just as no restaurateur would want his or her dirty kitchen floor made public. But NYSUT, obviously more powerful than the restaurant association, managed to convince a majority of the state’s legislators (though not without some political drama, as Governor Cuomo suggested early in the week that the deal was dead) to go along. The new law requires the state to release the evaluation scores for each teacher, but without names attached; parents will be allowed to see the rating only for their current teacher—not for future teachers. Doesn’t this beg the question, Isn’t that a little late?
Not surprisingly, Michael Mulgrew, president of NYC’s United Federation of Teachers, didn’t agree:
Is this “compromise” better than no teacher evaluations? Perhaps. To have gotten this far on the accountability track is good news. But we surely seem to be a long way from getting our children the kind of educational protection that even restaurant patrons receive—not a healthy illustration of our public priorities.