Is Your Teacher "Highly Ineffective?" Job Evaluations Face Publicity in Albany

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In a legislative roll that includes the cyber-bulling bill mentioned today by the Voice, Albany lawmakers are trying to hammer out as many laws as possible before its Thursday session deadline. And this one has a whole lot of merit.

Next on the agenda, Governor Cuomo, the State Legislature and city officials, who overlook the largest public school system in the country, are in talks to push forward a bill that would provide job evaluations for parents' eyes only for the first time.

What do the evaluations consist of? One thing mostly: is the teacher "effective" or "highly ineffective?" Simple enough.

But, if the deal does not go through, the teacher evaluations will be public data - a measure that the Bloomberg administration wholeheartedly supports. 

This transparency measure comes in opposition to the will of the unions, who are advocating for a one-on-one relationship between the parents and principals. Their plan would limit interaction about a student's teacher to a meeting set up between the two, in which parents were unable to take notes or leave with anything written down.

For even more pressure, the negotiation deadline for Cuomo to find the middle ground between the two extremes has been set for Monday night. Let the talks begin.

As of now, it is believed that the Governor will come out of the talks with a bill that keeps evaluations in the hands of the parents and principals only. However, is this the best deal for our students and the teachers that watch over them for eight hours of the day?

According to B. Jason Brooks, head of the Foundation for Education Reform and Accountability, we can look to other evaluation examples for guidance. Like car insurance: "Teacher evaluations can be viewed as the equivalent of a Carfax report, empowering parents to attempt to avoid the 'lemons.'"

But, in that sense, the process of choosing a teacher almost becomes like buying a product; there is a difference between a human being and a dented Toyota Camry. The evaluations put meritocracy into high speed and stick dead labels on teachers without clear intention. What constitutes a teacher being "highly ineffective" or "effective?"

The other side of the argument is focused on the hands the evaluations are being placed in. If anyone should know what is happening to our students, it is their parents so, with the evaluations on the side, they can make the best decisions with the most amount of information in front of them. 

And the public database thing that Bloomberg is all about...

Has anyone ever heard of RateMyProfessors.com?

[jsurico15@gmail.com/@JSuricz]


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5 comments
Brigg
Brigg

Andrew Cuomo the Clown of New York

Brigg
Brigg

 Because he can't get it through his thick head that early intervention schools save money in long term by correcting disabled children of autistic disabilities and making productive adults out of them.  All studies show that specialty schools provide superior education and contribute working adults to our society and save Billions in the long run. But the bozo in Albany who should be in a circus thinks otherwise. I knew I should have switched parties and voted for Paladino. Fool me once, etc....

Marzano Evaluation
Marzano Evaluation

Unless you're joking, there is no rating system with a category of "highly ineffective" for teachers. And I believe the bill you refer to is an anti-bullying bill -- not anti-bulling, unless you're discussing legal actions in Pamplona.

Guest
Guest

The new rating system does not include a rating category of "highly ineffective"! New York State is moving along to the "HEDI" system of teacher and principal evaluation. 1)  H = "highly effective" 2)  E = "effective" 3)  D = "developing" 4)  I = "ineffective" Sorry, no "highly ineffective" yet although maybe there will be such a category in the future! You forgot to mention RateMyTeachers.com, which is intended for the rating of teachers who teach at or below the high school level. However, the data must be taken with a boulder of salt!  Teachers have been known to give themselves great ratings and to encourage their students, friends, neighbors, and relatives to do the same.  Similarly, teachers have been known to trash colleagues that they don't like!

Guest
Guest

The October 25, 1979 issue of the New York Law Journal contained the decision of the NYS Supreme Court, Kings County, in Blecher v. NYC Board of Education.  The court stated:   Petitioner brings this article 78 proceeding to reverse, annul and set aside the order and determination made by respondents on May 30, 1979 and for an order requiring respondents to supply the documents requested.   By letter dated March 5, 1979 petitioner made fourteen requests of respondents for documents and records in their possession pursuant to the Freedom of Information Law ("FOIL") as set forth in Schedule A of said letter (Exhibit A).   By letter dated April 20, 1979 respondents denied seven of the fourteen requests (requests 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13 and 14) on the ground that "no such list" is kept and three of the fourteen requests (requests 8, 9 and 10) on the ground that the documents sought were "privileged personal data." (Exhibit B)   By letter dated May 3, 1979 and pursuant to section 6 of the Uniform Rules and Regulations for All City Agencies Pertaining to the Administration of the Freedom of Information Law ("Uniform Rules"), petitioner appealed to the Secretary/Counsel of respondents the denial of the requests made. (Exhibit C)   With respect to respondents' claim that "no such list" is kept in denying requests 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13 and 14, petitioner pointed out that the original requests were for an opportunity:   "To review and copy all records that are in the custody, control or possession of the Board of Education or its employees, servants, and agents thereof that relate or refer to, or when appropriate, constitute or pertain in any way to the inquiries set forth on Schedule A annexed hereto..." (emphasis supplied)   Petitioner also pointed out in said letter that the respondent Records Access Officer's response of "privileged personal data" was wrongly asserted for requests 8, 9 and 10 since section 89(2)(c)(i) of FOIL clearly states:   "Unless otherwise provided by this article, disclosure shall not be construed to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy pursuant to paragraphs (a) and (b) of this subdivision:   i. when identifying details are deleted   By letter dated May 30, 1979 (Exhibit D), the respondents denied petitioner's appeal stating:   "The Public Access to Records Officer has provided information to substantiate the denials of access on the basis of lack of existence of such lists in the forms requested. (Items 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13 and 14) and personal and privileged data. (Items 8, 9 and 10)."   Respondents have failed to furnish the information sought under the items requested which are the subject matter of the denial contained in respondents' letter of May 30, 1979.  Petitioner contends that the determination of May 30, 1979 by respondents with respect to her FOIL requests was and is illegal in that they wrongfully and in disregard of law denied her requests for records within their possession, custody and control.   It is petitioner's position that she is entitled to access to documents and records that contain the information sought even if the Board never compiled a "list" of the information specifically requested.  In support of her contention she cites the case of Gannett Co., Inc. v. County of Monroe, 59 AD2d 309 which permitted "access to those lists and documents which specifically identified employees..." holding that such a result was consistent with the Legislature's declaration "that government is the public's business and the public, individually and collectively and represented by a free news media should have unimpaired access to the records of government."   Petitioner's requests were not for a specific list or lists but for records as set forth in Schedule A attached to her initial request which are reasonably described. (see Dunlea v. Goldmark, 85 Misc. 2d 198, mod. on other grounds, 54 AD2d 446, aff'd 43 NY2d 754)   It is petitioner's contention that respondents' assertion of "privileged personal data" is wrongfully set forth and the respondent board must produce the documents requested under request numbers 8, 9 and 10 which are as follows:   8. All letters Mrs. Wolfe has written in the last ten years which evaluated or commented on a teacher's ability or fitness to teach.   9. Please supply copies of all complaints, either formal or informal, filed against Mrs. Wolfe with the Board of Education, the Commission on Human Rights for the City of New York, or with the United Federation of Teachers in the last ten years.   10. Please supply all correspondence pertaining to the letters or complaints referred to in inquiries 8 and 9.   The cases interpreting both the old and new Freedom of Information Law authoritatively indicate that the respondents must afford petitioner access to the requested documents.  The new Freedom of Information Law is broader and more liberal than the previous Law in that, instead of authorizing access to certain enumerated records, permits access to all government records other than those specifically exempted (see Montes v. State of New York, 94 Misc. 2d 972).  Under the Freedom of Information Law (section 84), the Legislature set forth its reasoning in enacting the Freedom of Information Law:   "The Legislature hereby finds that a free society is maintained when government is responsive and responsible to the public and when the public is aware of governmental actions. The more open a government is with its citizenry, the greater the understanding and participation of the public in government...   The people's right to know the process of governmental decision-making and to review the documents and statistics leading to determinations is basic to our society.  Access to such information should not be thwarted by shrouding it with the cloak of confidentiality."   Section 87(2)(b) P.O.L., provides that records are exempt from disclosure if they would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy under section 89(2) of FOIL.  Section 89(2)(b) defines an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy as:   "i. disclosure of employment, medical or credit histories or personal references of applicants for employment;   ii. disclosure of items involving the medical or personal records of a client or patient in a medical facility;   iii. sale or release of lists of names and addresses if such lists would be used for commercial or fund-raising purposes;   iv. disclosure of information of a personal nature when disclosure would result in economic or personal hardship to the subject party and such information is not relevant to the work of the agency requesting or maintaining it; or   v. disclosure of information of a personal nature reported in confidence to an agency and not relevant to the ordinary work of such agency."   The objections provided by subdivisions i, ii, iii and v are not relevant to the objection interposed by respondents. (see Montes v. State of New York, supra)   a) Two conditions must be satisfied before the exemption provided by iv applies:   There must be...   (1) Disclosure of information of a personal nature when disclosure would result in economic or personal hardship to the subject party and   (2) such information is not relevant to the work of the agency requesting or maintaining it.   Both clauses must be applicable in order to make the section operative and that when records are relevant to the ordinary work of the agency, this exemption does not apply (see Gannett Co., Inc. v. County of Monroe, supra).   Evaluations of teachers and criticism of their ability or fitness to teach are certainly relevant to the work of respondents (information sought by request 8 of petitioner and are discoverable).   The complaints made regarding this principal and the correspondence relating to same are also discoverable (Walker v. City of New York, 64 AD2d 980; Farrell v. Village Board of Trustees, 83 Misc. 2d 125; Pooler v. Nyquist, 89 Misc. 2d 705).  These cases clearly indicate that complaints, reprimands and evaluations contained in a personal file are "final determinations", not exempted by section 87(2)(g) of FOIL.   Evaluations, complaints and correspondence thereon are all either final determinations or documents leading to such final determinations discoverable under FOIL (Pooler v. Nyquist, supra; Westchester Rockland Newspapers, Inc. v. Mosczydlowski, 58 AD2d 234).   Accordingly, the petition is granted.  The determination of respondents dated May 30, 1979 is reversed, annulled and set aside.  Respondents are directed to give access to petitioner for the documents and records requested and to make them available for inspection and copying at petitioner's expense.   Submit judgment.

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