A good idea for evaluating teachers

Our system of public education has long been an embarrassment. School districts gobble up tax dollars at an alarming rate, the children are not being educated, incompetent teachers are all but impossible to terminate and good teachers are locked into an incentive killing union pay scale. In an attempt to improve accountability, the Wyoming legislature is considering a new teacher evaluation system which would utilize video tape taken in the classroom.

The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports that:
The Senate Education Committee voted 4 to 1 Monday to approve Senate File 114 on the first step of the legislative process.
Lawmakers voted along party lines with Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, voting no. Sens. Hank Coe; R-Cody, Kit Jennings, R-Casper; Bill Landen, R-Casper; and Paul Bernard, R-Evanston, supported the proposal.
The bill would become law in July if approved by the Senate and House and is signed by Gov. Matt Mead.
The proposal would set up a pilot program for a statewide enhanced teacher evaluation system.
The present teacher evaluation process relies entirely on the school principal and the individual teacher according to SF 114’s sponsor, Senator L. Ray Peterson, R-Cowley. Peterson’s bill would include parents and instructional coaches in the evaluation process which would open the system to much greater accountability.
Once signed into law, three districts would be selected to participate in the pilot program. Cameras would be installed in classrooms and would be used at random to record one hour of instruction, teachers would not know when they were being taped for evaluation. The school principal, the teacher, an instructional coach and one member of the local parent’s organization would watch the one hour video tape and complete evaluation review forms. The evaluation forms would be reviewed by officials to evaluate teacher performance, set goals and plan improvements.
Senator Peterson has said that the new system would be used to help identify and reward good teachers, while weeding out those teachers who are failing. Peterson said “The system we have now is not working,” adding that the use of video tapes for evaluation purposes is not bringing “big brother” into the classroom. Currently many districts in Wyoming are using surveillance cameras in schools and buses for security purposes without controversy.
Naturally the teacher’s union, (the Wyoming Education Association) is opposed to the new evaluation system. WEA President Kathryn Valido objects to having parents and instructional coaches involved in the evaluation process, claiming that they are not qualified to make evaluations. Valido also has voiced concerns that the students and the teacher’s right to privacy would be jeopardized.
Valido held to the union line by claiming that “No one wants good accountability more than teachers,” but she added that “The bill would would create more problems than it would solve.” The union continues to create barriers in order to protect its members by effectively shielding them from legitimate programs which would hold them accountable for their job performance.
January 26, 2010