I have published several posts (see here, here, and here) about Memphis, where a “Transition Planning Committee” devised a plan to merge the Memphis public schools and the Shelby County Schools. The planning was based on work by the Boston Consulting Group; the director of the TPC is the executive director of Stand for Children in Memphis. The plan proposes to shift many children out of the Memphis public schools and into new charter schools, so that charter enrollment will increase from 4% of Memphis students to 19% by 2016. The plan also involves a transfer of $212 million from the public schools to charter schools.

I have received letters from Stand for Children and from both supporters and opponents of the plan. Today I heard from Memphis teachers:

I teach in one of the grades K-3 in Memphis. In addition to the injustice of using test scores at all in making personnel decisions, K-3 teachers are evaluated based on the test scores of students they have never taught.Every teacher in Tennessee who teaches K-3 and every art, music, P.E. teacher, and librarian, instead of using their students’ value-added scores for half of their evaluation (because there aren’t any), is assigned their school’s value-added score for half of their evaluation.This is clearly designed to make the bad schools worse. Already, nearly all of the K-3 teachers at my failing school have transferred to other schools with better school-wide value-added scores. I don’t yet know who the principal has hired to replace them, but I’m guessing many will be TFA types (we also have a TFA-style program here called Memphis Teaching Fellows, run by The New Teacher Project), most of whom will be ineffective their first year.This legislation is designed to make the bad schools worse, so that they can be closed and turned into charters.The same teacher wrote this comment:In the meeting the Transition Planning Commission (TPC) had with teachers, the district strongly encouraged all teachers to go in place of faculty meeting. I didn’t go because I knew it would be a waste of time, but my colleagues went. According to them, it was a waste of time. They had a thousand teachers in the auditorium of a high school and no organization for the meeting. Teachers were not given an opportunity to speak the the group as a whole. Instead, they broke off into discussion groups comprised of a large number of teachers and one staff member. Teachers’ suggestions in these groups were written down and supposedly submitted to the TPC. The teachers I spoke to doubted anyone would read their suggestions. Why couldn’t they just ask teachers to email these suggestions, instead of wasting enormous amounts of time at the end of a long school day to organize a thousand teachers into discussion groups?

This comes from another Memphis teacher:

Let’s clear up the confusion around teacher input and the transition plan. There are NO current teachers on the Transition Planning Commission. The TPC appointed NO current teachers to the work groups who prepared the plan. The only input the TPC got from actual teachers was what they allowed them to say at community “listening tours”. These tours were usually about two hours long and held in various parts of the community. I believe there were six of these events. They were open to the public and teachers could attend and speak. The TPC members present answered virtually no questions as these were listening events. I do not call this teacher input. Additionally the teacher unions were intentionally left out of the discussions and were told their input was not needed even though the two unions involved represent over 7000 teachers. Teachers have no idea what is really in this plan.