Randi Weingarten--UFT president, AFT heir-apparent--must enjoy fighting losing battles. Her latest hopeless quest is to keep New York City schools from using "value-added" achievement data to evaluate teachers. "If one permitted this, it would be one of the worst decisions of my professional life," she told the New York Times. (Even worse than permitting this "deeply disturbing" reform?) Furthermore, Weingarten thinks "any real educator can know within five minutes of walking into a classroom if a teacher is effective." Really, Randi? Then why are so few obviously ineffective teachers removed from Gotham's schools? Perhaps it's because principals are afraid to do so without objective data lest they be charged, by Randi, with acting on a "whim." So let Gadfly propose a responsible use of New York's new spreadsheets. No, information on the effectiveness of individual teachers should not be made public (as Deputy Schools Chancellor Chris Cerf suggests), but it should be given to principals. And they should be allowed, even encouraged, to use it as one part of evaluating teachers and making tenure decisions. We can see Randi's reaction now.
"New York Measuring Teachers by Test Scores," by Jennifer Medina, New York Times, January 21, 2008