May 2012 Issue
April 16, 2012

NYSUT: No to publicizing evals

Author: NYSUT United staff
Source: NYSUT United

NYSUT remains unbending in its opposition to the "name/shame/blame game" of publishing teacher ratings in newspapers and on the Internet — and is pressing the Legislature to stop it.

In interviews with reporters across New York state, NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi made it clear that the union is pressing elected officials in Albany to address the "absolutely unacceptable" publication of teacher ratings. Statewide debate was triggered after tabloid newspapers published ratings of New York City teachers that had been computed as part of a pilot project. The tabloids sued to get the scores, setting off a furor about the proper use and reporting of evaluations.

Sensationalized front page articles touting their own list of so-called "worst teachers" were published by unscrupulous tabloids. They hounded teachers for interviews, in one case showing up at the home of a teacher's father. Newspapers published scores even though the city acknowledged that the scores were unreliable — the margin of error on ELA scores was up to 53 percent.

"It's irresponsible and reckless to release teachers' private personnel evaluations to be circulated on the Internet and sensationalized by irresponsible media,"

Iannuzzi said. "The Legislature and the governor must act to stop this despicable exploitation of a process intended to strengthen teaching, not demoralize teachers."

Iannuzzi said the union is seeking a solution that accommodates concerns about retaining a parent's legitimate access to information. "Teachers' privacy must be respected," he said. "I am confident that this can be addressed in a way that works for teachers and parents."

Public release of teacher ratings in newspapers and online is "a gross invasion of teachers' privacy," Iannuzzi said. "It would prevent evaluations from being used to help all teachers improve, which is their number one purpose. Teacher evaluation should be about continually improving both teacher performance and student learning. We need to get back to that focus."