Well, let's go back to the LA Times, which led the way in releasing this dreck. What was their justification for releasing (really bad) teacher ratings back in 2010?
Critics, and especially union leaders, railed against The Times' decision to release this information, saying that it unfairly casts teachers as good or bad. They predicted that parents would throng local schools demanding that their children be assigned to one teacher or another based on scores that are at best an incomplete measure of a teacher's effectiveness.So the parents are smart enough to know not to rely on this unreliable data. OK; so why publish it? What is the point?
Test scores are indeed just one indicator of a teacher's performance. It's too early to determine the long-term response, but so far, parents seem to understand that; L.A. Unified reports that there has been no headlong rush to principals' offices for a change of teachers before classes start later this month.
But it's revealing, and disturbing, to read the comments of some teachers who don't seem to care whether their students' scores slide. They argue that they're focused on more important things than the tests measure. That's unpersuasive. The state has carefully constructed some of the best curriculum standards in the nation, which are about to become better with the adoption of new English and math standards. These represent widespread agreement among educational experts on what students should learn by certain grades. We're far past the point of allowing individual teachers to decide how much of the curriculum they want to impart, or sitting by while low-income students enter high school illiterate and without a basic grasp of multiplication. [emphasis mine]Hold on a sec...
Sorry, I had to take a good couple of minutes to hold my side laughing at the idea that a single bubble test, graded by some low-paid worker in a warehouse in Iowa, is a good measure of whether a kid meets "carefully constructed"...
... sorry, I needed another minute for that one - "carefully constructed"... let me catch my breath... whoo....
..."carefully constructed" standards.
But this paragraph, for all its cluelessness, is highly instructive. If you read the entire LA Times piece, you'll find this is the closest they come to a real justification for publicly publishing this release: it gives the LAT a chance to rail against teacher responses. As I said at the time, the LAT gave up any pretense of objectivity when they released this report, and it's clear to me they did it solely for financial reasons. They are ideologues who want to make the case that the largest problem children in America face is not poverty, or income inequity, or inadequate resources for schools.
No, in their world, children are failed primarily by hordes of lazy, unionized, unaccountable teachers. And I'm sure it's just a happy coincidence the LAT is owned by a very wealthy man who is one of the largest financial backers of the war on teachers.
But I'll give them this: at least they admit that they were the ones who requested the data and analyzed it. Contrast that to this gutless report from the New York Times, which fails to report who exactly filed the FOIA, saying only this:
The push to release the individual rankings began in August 2010, when New York City education officials contacted the reporters who most closely cover the city’s public schools and encouraged them to submit Freedom of Information Act requests for the teachers’ rankings. Until then, the city had refused to release the names with the rankings, citing issues of privacy.So Mike Bloomberg - a guy who said he would cut the teacher corps in half if he could - tells the NY Times to jump, and they ask "how high?" Since when? Doesn't the Times have an obligation to determine whether publishing such error-prone data may violate ethical journalism standards?
Would the Times publish the mortality rates for surgeons if the data couldn't accurately account for what type of patients they operated on? Even if Mayor Mike begged them to do so? Hell, no - they'd be too afraid of getting their asses sued off.
Which begs the question: where are the databases of pilot errors? Where are the statistics showing how many cases lawyers won and lost? The racial breakdown of arrests for individual cops? Is there anything comparable to this happening in any other profession?
It's worth pointing out that our Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, applauds this crap:
Please. Publicly releasing the data has absolutely nothing to do with "facing the truth." And parents can't act on the data anyway. No, this is all about putting teachers in their place; this is all about intimidation.
Fellow teachers (and parents and students and citizens), understand this: we are in a war, and the weapons of choice for the other side are fear and humiliation. This is merely the latest step in the systematic de-professionalization of teaching. We know the corporate reformers love this; the ostensible "liberals" in the Obama administration love it too. And the media is happy to play along, even as it pretends to wring its hands.
Fellow teachers, I have only one question for you:
How much longer are we going to put up with this crap?
ADDING (New Jersey specific): You know who promised the NYC teachers that this data would NEVER be revealed? That's right: ACTING NJDOE Commissioner Chris Cerf.
Add that to the list of many questions Cerf should have to answer if he ever gets a confirmation hearing.