Yay teachers! #ctu #Chicago #teachers #Chicagoteachersunion (Taken with Instagram)
Disappointing. You’re really going to keep 350,000 kids out of school over a few percentage points of salary and a long overdue overhaul to the way teachers are evaluated?
You might ask, what was wrong with the system we had? Why don’t we just do what works? Well, we’ve tried doing what adults like for the past 50 years and the verdict is in: it isn’t working for our urban districts- according to the 2011 NAEP there is not ONE urban district in America where more than 25% of black students are proficient in reading OR math in 4th OR 8th grade. That’s insane!
What is everyone afraid of? That shitty teachers might actually be held accountable for slacking off or not having the skills required to do their job? I admit, there’s going to be measurement error in any instrument of evaluation, but that’s not a good enough reason to not evaluate! If you’re a great teacher and you end up as the victim of measurement error in an evaluation system, then I feel genuinely sorry for you, but guess what? You’re a great teacher! You’ll have tons of people who can attest to that fact, and some other school will be lucky to have you. Sorry, but it’s too important to get bad teachers out of the classroom to worry about tossing a couple good ones for every 100 bad ones you are finally able to get out of the system (see Chetty 2011 or Hanushek 2010 for strong evidence as to the importance of getting rid of bad teachers and building incentives to keep the good ones). This is how virtually every other profession operates - we count on managers (principals in this case) to build a team to meet performance targets (sales, patients cared for, widgets produced, cases won, games won, whatever) and provide them with incentives that make their job security contingent upon satisfactory execution of this task. The current evaluation system is a farce - in CPS, where 2011 NAEP revealed that only 13% of black students and 21% of Hispanic students were proficient in reading by 8th grade (in math it is 10% and 20%, respectively), 93% of teachers were rated as “superior” or “excellent” and 87% of schools did not have a single teacher earn an “unsatisfactory” rating. How do you feel as a professional when you’re working your ass off and getting the same commendation as the teacher three doors down who lets his or her students listen to their iPods and browse the internet instead of teaching a lesson?
If teachers want to be taken seriously as professionals, the unions need to get serious about school reform. Get public dollars out of pensions and tenure and into an extended school day (sorry CPS teachers, but 8am-2:15pm might be great for adults, but it doesn’t cut it for kids who are already behind), a merit based pay-scale to attract top talent, tangible resources like books and tech for teachers who are willing to work their butts off for kids, and programs that help rebuild struggling communities and support students from birth through post-high school.
Teachers make a living wage, get great benefits, have unrivaled job security, get summers off, and have the privilege to do deeply rewarding work. There are deep structural problems in our public school districts, and CPS specifically, but it’s not because the compensation system isn’t generous enough or the teacher evaluations are too demanding. What a waste of everyone’s time quibbling over nickels and dimes instead of working hard for children. Get back to the real and necessary work that you are blessed to have the opportunity to do and push your union to do what is right for children, not just adults.