Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School in Rockville Center, New York, doesn’t think much of Governor Cuomo’s proposal for teachers to be evaluated by drop-by outsiders. The Governor made this part of his education package of “reforms.” His original proposal, which has been handed over to the State Education Department (or the Board of Regents) was to have test scores count for 50% of each teacher’s evaluation, to have 35% determined by an “independent evaluator,” and only 15% based on the principal’s judgment. Who would these outside evaluators be? How much would they be paid? What would it cost? How many would be hired to review the work of every teacher in the state? How much time would they spend with each teacher? This is the kind of idea that would be dreamed up only by someone who never was a principal or a teacher.

Here is what Burris says:

The folks up in Albany are showing once again that they never met a bad idea they didn’t like. The idea that teaching would improve if only “outsiders” came in to do observations is absurd.

When confronted with the costs of this half-baked scheme, legislators suggested that money could be saved by “swapping” administrators among districts to do observations. Can you imagine the consequences of putting this idea in place?

Schools would not function as principals are put on the road to observe teachers in other schools, leaving their own students and teachers without support when a crisis occurs. In rural New York, schools may be an hour or more apart. If the outside observations stay within the district, we would have elementary principals observing physics classes, and high school principals observing pre-k.

Observations would become little more than a check list hastily done by someone who has no vested interest in helping the teacher improve. One might imagine a cadre of “hired guns” who excel in writing harsh observations being brought in to a school to get a teacher who is respected in the building principal but not by a district office or a Board of Education.

This scheme makes one thing crystal clear–Cuomo despises teachers and the principals who support them. Let’s see if the legislature goes along or stands up for our public schools and the children they serve.