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Releasing Teacher Evaluations is the Wrong Move

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Parents – good parents – want to know how their kid is doing in school. They want to see his grades, know his teachers and be sure he is receiving the best education.

However, the definition of a “good parent” is changing.

Is it one who holds the child partially responsible for his own education and works closely with teachers to further the education at home? Is it one who, if their child is struggling, sits with him and goes over the homework and helps where possible?

Or is that definition shifting to merely holding the teacher entirely accountable? Has school become a place parents send children for daycare in the hopes they learn to read?

Is a good parent one who logs into their child’s school website to access his up-to-the-minute grades, then blames the school if the grades are low? Is it about marching into the principal’s office, demanding to see a teacher evaluation, pointing to perhaps one parameter and saying, “See, this teacher is awful! I want my kid out of that class”?

New York State is moving toward providing more ammunition against teachers who are scrutinized, held to ridiculous standardized test results, and are otherwise under funded and under appreciated by what has become the definition of a good parent.

George Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” reform required individual states to implement more standardized testing as a way to gather measurable data by which schools could be compared to national averages.

It also decreed that if districts didn’t meet minimum test scores, funding could be cut. How does that make sense?

It forced some schools in this area and across the state to enact no-fail policies, depending on the district, to keep getting that government cheese.

This means there are students in high school right now who are reading at second grade levels, can’t pass a basic math test and will be lucky to graduate. Meanwhile high school educators are expected to make up for years of neglect in order to improve district Regents test scores and graduation rates.

If they don’t, they’re evaluated as ineffective. Now, Senator Andrew Cuomo and Albany are debating whether to make those evaluations, which are used to develop strategies for educators to improve, available to parents — the same parents who know only that their child has passed every other grade and every other teacher. They see only a “bad” teacher in front of them and not a horrendous education system.

How can effective high school educators be accurately evaluated when they are handed ineffective students? The students have been just passed through the system and labeled “somebody else’s problem, now” instead of held back or worked with more closely at elementary levels.

Education is supposed to be a team effort among educators, parents and the child. It’s about parents collaborating with educators to most effectively develop the child, not blaming and berating the teacher and walking out of the room.

The meaning of education has become lost as Washington continues to emphasize test scores alone as a measure of education success. Students and parents now ask only one question of teachers: Is this on the Regents? That is not an education.

It has also put educators in a situation where if a child doesn’t pass, they may lose their job and the school may have funds cut. Yet, Cuomo and the politicians in Albany may allow parents – the same ones who can’t understand why their child is failing – access to teacher evaluations.

Good parents will know educators are not entirely the issue here; it is our current definition of education and parenting. Unfortunately the good parents are often not the ones sitting in the principal’s office.

Let’s try to find a different solution than providing more ammunition against educators who are already staring back at a filled chamber.

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