Friday, April 4, 2014

Thoughts From a Teacher, 4-4-14

As the individuals reading this blog know, teachers are being graded by their principals. Teachers are graded on their students' test scores, rubrics, their attendance record, and more. As you can probably guess, there are a large number of teachers who are not happy with this system. There is also a great deal of animosity brewing between teachers and their principals. For many of us, it is hard to keep a positive working relationship when teachers, who are already unhappy with being graded, are receiving bad scores. Whether these scores are justified or not is not the reason why I am writing this piece. Rather, I am writing to address a ripple effect of these reforms: the evaluation of our principals.
Imagine that you had the chance to review your boss' performance after a particularly rough working year. It may be difficult to be completely impartial in your judgement of your boss' performance. Principals in our state are facing this issue right now. Earlier this week, teachers began filling out a principal survey in which teachers were asked to rate their principal's performance in a number of areas relating to their community support, their ability to grade their teachers, whether they support literacy programs and student achievement in literacy, their communication methods, relationships with teachers, professional development support, and building management. Principals are rightfully concerned about this survey. Disgruntled teachers, understandably, will have a difficult time being impartial in their judgement of their principals. More concerning, the surveys are anonymous and can be taken as many times as the teacher wishes. I could hop onto the survey right now and assess not only my principal, but any principal in the state. Consider the position this puts principals into. School administrators are frightened that their jobs will be on the line, their futures as administrators, because a single teacher holds a grudge.
The legality and fairness of this survey process is in question by teachers and principals alike. This should also be a great concern for parents. Teachers and principals find themselves in a tenuous position when it comes to creating change in schools. Licenses and jobs can be lost so easily and the protections for teachers are drying up as our unions continue to be attacked. At the end of the day, it is the school's community that has power. Community members at Montezuma are beginning to see the power of organizing, the power that they have in creating change in a school and eventually district. Parents and school employees need to work together to communicate the issues we face and plan to create change. Parents, community members, ask yourselves: What can we do, as a community team, to create positive changes in our schools? Can we end this painfully unjust system, or will we allow our school communities to be ripped apart by reformers?


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