In a recent post regarding the governor’s budget, I describe how everything has been slashed in the education part of the budget except the ed reform push for teacher and principal evaluations in our state. Well, at least principals in the state of New York are fighting back.
From the New York Times:
Through the years there have been many bitter teacher strikes and too many student protests to count. But a principals’ revolt?
“Principals don’t revolt,” said Bernard Kaplan of Great Neck North High School on Long Island, who has been one for 20 years. “Principals want to go along with the system and do what they’re told.”
But President Obama and his signature education program, Race to the Top, along with John B. King Jr., the New York State commissioner of education, deserve credit for spurring what is believed to be the first principals’ revolt in history.
As of last night, 658 principals around the state had signed a letter — 488 of them from Long Island, where the insurrection began — protesting the use of students’ test scores to evaluate teachers’ and principals’ performance.
Their complaints are many: the evaluation system was put together in slapdash fashion, with no pilot program; there are test scores to evaluate only fourth-through-eighth-grade English and math teachers; and New York tests are so unreliable that they had to be rescaled radically last year, with proficiency rates in math and English dropping 25 percentage points overnight.
Mr. Kaplan, who runs one of the highest-achieving schools in the state, has been evaluating teachers since the education commissioner was a teenager. No matter. He is required by Nassau County officials to attend 10 training sessions, as is Carol Burris, the principal of South Side High School here, who was named the 2010 Educator of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State.
“It’s education by humiliation,” Mr. Kaplan said. “I’ve never seen teachers and principals so degraded.”
The trainers at these sessions, which are paid for by state and federal grants, have explained that they’re figuring out the new evaluation system as they go. To make the point, they’ve been showing a YouTube video with a fictional crew of mechanics who are having the time of their lives building an airplane in midair.
“It was supposed to be funny, but the room went silent,” Ms. Burris said. “These are people’s livelihoods we’re talking about.”
Last year New York was awarded $700 million as one of 11 states, along with the District of Columbia, to win a Race to the Top grant. The application process was chaotic, with Dr. King’s office making the deadline by just a few hours. To win a grant, states had to pledge to follow policy priorities of the Obama administration, like evaluating teachers by student test scores, even though there were no implementation plans yet.
New York committed to an evaluation process that is based 60 percent on principal observations and other subjective measures, and from 20 to 40 percent on state tests, depending on the local district.
To read the article in full, go to:
By the way, how much money do you want to put on the unholy trinity of the Washington State PTA, the League of Education Voters and Stand for Children pushing in unison this evaluation system on our legislators this session?
I’ll take on all bets that they will.