I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Accountability For Thee, Not For Me?

So now that it's hitting the fan in NYC, no one wants to stand up and be... oh, what's that word again... oh, yeah...

Facing a flood of criticism from teachers and principals, the city’s Education Department is trying to distance itself from the release of 18,000 teachers’ individual performance rankings to the press. That has not always been so.
In a guide sent to public school principals on Friday, city officials suggested that the principals respond to teachers’ concerns by telling them that the Department of Education “did not support the release of this data; we were required to do so by the courts.”
The guide also encouraged principals not to speak to journalists who might call with questions about the reports or specific teachers’ performance. (The Education Department later reversed this order, permitting principals to talk to reporters.)
Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott has repeatedly said that he has mixed feelings about the release of the reports and has warned reporters against singling out individual teachers for criticism. It is unclear whether he took any actions to end the department’s legal battle for publication.
His predecessor, Joel I. Klein, championed the reports’ release, telling reporters that he supported their publication by teachers’ names.
The Columbia Journalism Review reported that the Education Department’s press office went a step further, encouraging reporters to file Freedom of Information requests — known as foils — for the individualized reports. According to the Review article by Lynnell Hancock:
But the Department of Education had privately dropped hints to some reporters that their competitors had already submitted foils, some journalists countered. Suspicions had been raised when the department responded to the foils with uncharacteristic speed. Normally, such requests took months, with layers of negotiations, said Maura Walz, a reporter for GothamSchools.org, an independent online news service. This time, it was service with a smile. “The Department of Education wants this out,” said Ian Trontz, a New York Times metro editor. “They have a lot of faith in these reports. They believe they are trustworthy enough to educate and empower parents.”
Still, empowering parents had not seemed to be a top goal in the past for this administration. To the most skeptical reporters, it appeared as if the city was using them.
And when the rankings were first created in 2008 as part of a pilot program to evaluate teachers, a then-deputy chancellor, Christopher Cerf, said it would be a “powerful step forward” to have the teacher measurements made public, arguing, “If you know as a parent what’s the deal, I think that whole aspect will change behavior.”
He later said that the reports, at least at first, would be treated as personnel records not subject to public-records laws. [emphasis mine]
You catch that, all you Jersey teachers? Especially all of you in the current "pilot" programs? Back in his NYC days, when he wasn't violating conflict-of-interest laws, the current ACTING NJDOE Commissioner said he wanted the data publicized, but then promised it wouldn't be released. How you feeling about that, Jersey teachers? Do you have a lot of faith that your interests will be protected? Especially since this administration already lied to you about your pensions?

As to what's happening in NYC: I don't know who's more gutless, the press or the NYCDOE. The press didn't have to play this game, but they did; now they've alienated 75,000 literate teacher-readers (bravo to GothamSchools.org for standing up to this crap), and lord knows how many parents.

And Tweed can swear up and down that it looks out for its teachers and principals, but Bloomberg's been running his little fiefdom for years, and everyone knows the score. Beating up on teachers has been priority number one since the days long before Joel Klein ran off to be Murdoch's consiglieri. What little loyalty the NYC teaching corps has left to Walcott is gone, with maybe the exception of sycophants like Little Evan and Princess Sydney (shout out to SBS!)

The fact is that both the press and Tweed screwed up, and screwed up badly. And, for once, they can't blame it on teachers or their unions. This is all on them. Deal with it.


Anonymous said...

Picked up a copy of the NY Post at the Shop-Rite . .. just wanted to see how my old friends in Queens made out on this thing. Pretty much as I expected, the teacher who always got the honors kids got a high score; the one who always had the remedials was in the single digits. Yeah, I'm sure he's looking forward to Monday. Sickening, really. What's worse is the Post op/ed section that has three (!) articles defending the release of the names (despite the flaws in the eval. process). What the h? "We're mad. Times are tough. They work for us. Who cares if feelings (and lives) are affected." Wow, tough talk from tough folks who most likely have never had to face an armed seventh grader (like the single digit guy . . . and nearly all of us at the old school). The NY Post? I wouldn't even trust their TV schedule.

Thanks for great efforts Jimmy Jazz

Duke said...

Thx. See above about the idiocy in the Post.

Teacher Mom said...

A student from my last school was shot and killed on Friday. I didn't know the boy, and I can't even imagine what it's going to be like for the teachers and students at that school this week. ...But let's go ahead and rank them anyway. (sarcasm)

Duke said...

TM, I am so sorry. You and your students have my thoughts and prayers.