I'll get to the changes in teacher evaluations later this week: it's a long story and it needs to be told. But I think it's worth taking a minute to acknowledge the creation of this commission to study standardized tests.
Because the last time Chris Christie created a panel to study how standardized tests should be used in teacher evaluations, some of the people on that panel were woefully unqualified for the job.
As I wrote at the time, appointing any number* of these people (especially Bradford, who is embarrassingly inept when it comes to education policy) while skipping over any representative from the NJEA or any recognized research expert made the task force a bad joke. The facile and ill-conceived reports they produced are largely responsible for the mess of a system we used this last year for evaluations (code name: Operation Hindenburg).In addition to [Brian] Zychowsky and [Derrell] Bradford, the others appointed yesterday were:
- Jesse Rector, Clinton Hill Campus President of North Star Academy Charter School;
- Ross Danis, Associate Dean of Education at Drew University;
- Donna Chiera, an Executive of the American Federation of Teachers and Special Education Resource Teacher;
- Rafael Fajardo, former President of the Elizabeth Board of Education;
- Rev. Edwin Leahy, Headmaster of St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark;
- Jane Cosco, retired teacher and Director of Operation Goody Bag;
- Peggy Sue Juliano, Executive Board Member of the Lacy Township High School PTA.
This time around, NJEA says they will have a seat at the table, which is good. But if other seats are taken up by more lobbyists and private school leaders and political hacks, there's a good chance this commission will be as incapable of meeting its mandates as the last one.
At the very least, the commission has got to bring in some panelists to explain the basic flaws that are pervasive throughout AchieveNJ. In other words: this panel has to be able and willing to listen to informed critics of the current system.
If we can't have that bare minimum, there's no point in even convening the commission -- it will produce work as bad as the Task Force's report. And that is the last thing our students or our teachers need.
More to come...
Completely avoidable, with the right people investigating.
* To be clear: several members were qualified to be on the task force, and I certainly have no problem with non-experts representing the interests of parents, students, and school boards. But Bradford and Fajardo, who ran the ethically questionable Elizabeth BOE, had no business being anywhere near this group. That they were given space while NJEA members and researchers were excluded is simply unforgivable.