From Investors Business Daily.
There’s a law in California that requires school districts to take student progress into account when they evaluate teachers. The statute goes back 40 years; language specifically prescribing the use of statewide tests was added to it in 1999.
Until a court ruling last week, this idea of judging teachers by measurable results was pretty much a dead letter. Union opposition saw to that.
But a group of parents and students filed suit to force the Los Angeles city schools to follow the law. School Superintendent John Deasy, though nominally a defendant, was on their side. This was all about pushing the teachers’ union into the 21st Century.
On June 12, Superior Court Judge James Chalfant ruled for the plaintiffs. He noted that the current system of review gave 99.3% of the district’s teachers the highest possible rating in the 2009-10 academic year, when only 45% of students performed at grade level in reading and 56% did so in math. In a bit of judicial understatement, he said this process “provides little meaningful evaluation.”
The reaction of United Teachers Los Angeles to Chalfant’s decision was a teachable moment about union attitudes. A statement from UTLA President Warren Fletcher praised Chalfant for declining to rule on the question of whether a new evaluation system had to be worked out in collective bargaining. In other words, the union still holds out the hope that results-based assessment of teacher performance can be stymied at the negotiating table.
[…]The real dividing line is between those who cling to the old ways — rewarding teachers by seniority, course work and credentials — and those who believe in making teachers accountable for how well their students learn.
The latter group is a rising force. According to a 2011 report from the National Council on Teacher Quality, 24 states required teacher evaluations to have “objective evidence of student learning.”
California was not among those states at the time, but last week’s ruling should push it in that direction. And the more that unions resist such progress, the more they will cement their public reputation as guardians of mediocrity — or worse — in the teaching ranks.
Teacher unions protect underperforming teachers from having to care about what their customers – parents – think of them. You will never get good service when you are forced to pay for public schools through taxes. The only way to make teachers care about children is to put the money back into the parents’ pockets and then let them choose a school that works for them. Then, and only then, will schools serve parents.