The following comment is evidence that the corporate reformers’ narrative about the “broken” evaluation system is wrong. I say “wrong” as a euphemism. I actually think it is a calculated lie, one that has been promulgated to advance a political agenda: to eliminate collective bargaining rights, to eliminate seniority and tenure, to demand that teachers have zero job protections, not even due process. All of this will make it possible to fire “bad” teachers, with no hearings or delay. The “bad” teachers are the ones who can’t raise test scores every single year.

If you don’t agree with this train of thought, then you are branded as a paid lackey for the teachers’ union, a defender of the status quo, and worse.

But what if the narrative is a giant lie? What if the evaluation system is working quite well in most places? What if low test scores are caused not by “bad” teachers, but by socio-economic conditions that shape children’s interest in schooling?

What if our society has been sold a bill of goods, intended to distract us from addressing real problems?

This reader writes:

I taught in Westchester County, New York, for 35 years (retiring in June 2011).  I was on the faculty of two high schools and served as department chair in the second of those two.  In both schools, working with several administrative teams, I nearly always found administrators working in the collaborative, supportive way described in Carol Burris’s excellent and reassuring post.  This does not mean that I found all these administrators equally visionary or thoughtful or smart, but I found them all supportive and, when necessary, willing to rid the school of those who couldn’t rise to the its standards or fit its culture.  I rarely saw weak teachers tenured.  I saw a few tenured teachers eased out.  I agree that “[a]lthough…it makes sense to make the 3020a dismissal process shorter and less costly, it should never be easy.”  /  With all this in mind, I was struck by a recent New York Times’ article celebrating the fact that, last year only 50% of teachers up for tenure actually received tenure in the NYC schools. (Many were granted a 4th year to pursue tenure.)  The Times was convinced that this showed a rising standard of excellence.  But this ignores a fact widely understood in public schools: That a teacher should not be invited back for a third year unless he or she is clearly on the track to receiving tenure.  In 2010, according to the Times, 80% of candidates received tenure–a fact the article bemoaned, though 80% seems a little low to me.