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Parental Evalutions to a District Near You?

The public is always so concerned with teacher evaluations and the subsequent consequences of poor results. But are educators the only ones who should be assessed?

My proposal to Racine Unified and Racine area schools: PIP.

Also known as The Parent Involvement Plan, PIP would require evaluations of all parents of students currently attending any school in Racine. Each child would be tested on basic life skills such as manners, hygiene, nutrition, sleep, communication, behavior and willingness to learn. Half of the parents' score would depend on the student’s results and the other half on arbitrary judging of the parents’ roles and involvement.

Probably won’t fly, eh? Didn’t think so. Parents are often overwhelmed – many working more than one job. Some parents have children with special needs of varying degrees which makes it more difficult to discipline. And there are parents whom simply do not have the help, income or skill set to help their children develop into enthusiastic learners.

So why do we accept these excuses while completely minimizing the difficulty teachers have educating masses of students who carry with them all of these same barriers?

RUSD is implementing a pilot program this coming school year that is scheduled to go statewide by 2014. Julien Thomas Elementary will be the first in the district to adopt a new Teacher/Principal Evaluation Process. , this program will require evaluations to consider not only the teacher’s individual performance but half of the score will be determined by their students’ performances as well.

I think we all can agree (right? RIGHT??) that using merely test scores as a means to evaluate an educator is irresponsible and insufficient. Not all students are at the same readiness level when it comes to learning. Using tests to assess the teacher’s capabilities is simply unfair and it would help no one.

It was reported that student achievement would not focus EXCLUSIVELY on standardized tests. Does that mean a portion of the evaluation will indeed include these test scores? What are the actual factors in these evaluations?

One educator told me, “I believe in using a wide range of assessments as a part of instruction and learning activities but am hesitant to endorse the use of student performance as part of teacher evaluation without clean and legally firm understanding about how it will be used.”

I can imagine that this new system would make many teachers and principals nervous. After all, their livelihoods, their passion, their careers are being assessed and threatened by random and confusing measures.

Imagine 30 kids in a classroom; five of which have been diagnosed with some sort of special need; perhaps others carry the same symptoms without a formal diagnosis. And there are teachers who will have a high percentage of special needs students while others may have none. Some of these kids come to school without having eaten or slept for more than a couple of hours. Some come from abusive homes. Some have parents who have never stepped into their child’s school – let alone do anything to make sure their child is working up to potential.

There clearly needs to be a structured and reliable process to conduct employee reviews and assessments. There needs to be a way to measure an educator’s performance just like there is with any profession. However, with so many variables existing in a classroom and a community, it seems to me that judging a teacher’s success based on student performance is a little dangerous.

While parental evaluations would never come to fruition or even be tolerated in any way, we must consider the fact that their jobs as parents directly affect the success of their children’s educations. We have to stop putting all the responsibly and consequence on the educators. Not only is that unfair to them but it is counterproductive and short sighted. The mirrors need to start reflecting the roles of parents, too, and perhaps there needs to be some sort of accountability on their end.

Ed Holladay August 05, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Brian, that is a bit of hyperbolic isn't it? Teachers do not get fired in disgrace and then get a ten million dollar golden parachute. You think they are greatly overpaid. Fine. They are not getting multi-million dollar bonuses though. Why are many black kids, as well as Latino and white kids, failing to graduate? I don't know. I do know that my kids are getting a great education from their school. The voucher schools you promote have not come up with the answer to this riddle in Milwaukee either (they score worse on the tests despite being able to pick and choose students). So, there appears to be no simple solution. I am just suggesting we evaluate government subsidized executives, and you scoff at that. Why?
Brian Dey August 05, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Ed- What makes you think that I am referring to teachers. I can tell you we had a Superintendent fired in disgrace that did get a big payoff, as well as others. I never evever said teachers are greatly overpaid. I have stated, and my actions on the RUSD board verify this, that we (the taxpayers) could no longer afford the generous benefits that teachers and administrators received. As far as why black, latino and white kids not graduating, one of the answers is that administrators, board members and teachers have written a percentage of them off by insisting that factors beyond their control, make it impossible to teach, and that is a bunch of bunk. Those are the excuses that many of us are sick and tired of hearing. Many other communities across the country face the same problems, including Kenosha; yet their test scores and graduation rates are significantly higher than ours. As far a vouchers, students participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. have an 18% higher rate of graduation. Milwuakee Lutheran High School, a voucher MPCP school, does not discrimate on race or socio-economic status, and does not have any other specific criteria for admissions, ranks #1 in the Greater milwaukee area in daily attendance (97.5%), graduation rate (98.9%), and college acceptance (89.5%). And have been doing so since 2005. But at least these kids have a choice if the school is failing them.
Brian Dey August 06, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Ed- We should never have subsidized or bailed out these companies in the first place. That we did, I agree they should be subject to pulic scrutiny. But why do you scoff at evaluating those that are suppose to be educating our children?
Ed Holladay August 06, 2012 at 04:39 AM
I do not scoff at evaluating teachers, or whomever else. It just strikes me as odd that teachers are supposed to produce scholars from whomever walks through the door, while execs leaving in disgrace collect tax subsidized bonuses and such. You seem to share some of that frustration. Yeah, I vaguely remember a superintendent leaving a few years back. He left with a wad of cash? That is a shame. I do not know specifics on every voucher school in Milwaukee, but they aggregately teach less minority and special needs students (according to the JS and WSJ). At a meeting on vouchers schools at the Sienna Center it was brought up that these schools can (and routinely do in Milwaukee) send the most troublesome students back to the public schools once the voucher check clears. The voucher schools as a whole also scored worse on the WKCE. Many people I know in Racine send kids to different (other than neighborhood) RUSD schools via open enrollment or one of the many magnet/alternative schools. There are choices within Unified. If the vouchers are so awesome then the whole state should be subject to it. I think it will ultimately force our district to spend precious funds on advertising in a desperate attempt to defend itself from the onslaught on AM radio.
Brian Dey August 06, 2012 at 11:18 AM
Ed- We don't expect them to produce every child as a scholar, but we don't expect them to give up on them entirely and we do expect them to graduate. RUSD brought this on themselves. Yes currently nearly 1,000 opt out to attend other districts and 500 this year to vouchers. We should be more concerned why parents pull their kids out than where they send them. That is the bgger problem and one that RUSD administrators and Board members seem oblivious to. As someone who literally interviewd thousands of parents over the past 8 years, it is about safety, no plan for improving challenging students, overcrowding at the high school level and children being forced to attend schools outside their boundaries. And yes, we have many good alternatives within the district, but limited seating. For as much as I believe parents should have choice, I believe that I was the only candidate and citizen that offered a plan that addressed all of those concerns and it has been scoffed by the administration and ignored by the board. Even though key members of the administrative team thought it was a win-win for the district. Maybe evaluations that raise up good teachers and eliminate poor ones will give parents more confidence, but until the administrators and the Board start listening to outsiders, they are doomed to further destroy the district.

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