Letter: Union: State rushed teacher evals
Originally published: November 23, 2012 6:05 PM
Updated: November 25, 2012 9:45 PM
Newsday's cover story on the cost to school districts to support the new teacher evaluation law raises very real and compelling concerns [ "The cost of teacher evals," News, Nov. 23 - subscription required]. It also validates the importance of having effective teachers in every classroom.
Missing from the story is the high cost to students, parents and teachers. Students are losing valuable instructional time to hurriedly drafted and lengthy pretests, parents feel disconnected from their children's schools, and teachers will be evaluated on student growth scores that the state will claim are valid -- after attempting to measure students with different tests on curricula that districts haven't implemented and teachers haven't been prepared to teach. They may be valid, but valid for what? Certainly not to measure students or teachers!
State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. is right, there is urgency to improve student performance, and teacher effectiveness is central to any progress. That's why the New York State United Teachers was at the table when the new law was crafted. But, the state Education Department has undermined a sound framework by forcing unfunded and unrealistic systems and timelines on districts. Lawmakers, as well, have failed to meet their responsibility to provide the necessary resources for an ambitious and worthwhile system.
No doubt, some responsibility does fall on school districts for not embracing sooner the new Common Core curriculum and related assessments as they pertain to the new teacher-principal evaluation law. But the overwhelming responsibility falls on the commissioner, the state education chancellor and the Board of Regents for "racing to the top" before building the necessary foundation. Sadly, once again, students, teachers and taxpayers will pay the price for failure at the top.
Richard C. Iannuzzi, Albany
Editor's note: The writer is the president of the New York State United Teachers union.