What should due process look like?

Last week I posted what was essentially a “vent” about the ATR’s who’ve been placed at my school, who are not being used to fill vacancies, but who are being used as substitutes instead. It was also posted at Gotham Schools, where you can see the heated responses I received. The level of anger in the comments has been troubling, (1) because it is not productive and (2) because it is evidence of the feeling of powerlessness among teachers in the debate about public education.

After a few days of discussion and many accusations of being Anti-Teacher by readers at Gotham Schools, I’ve arrived at this point and posted this comment there this morning.

“Marty is right. At this point if an ATR or any teacher at my school is not fulfilling basic requirements of his or her job, it is the job of the principal to take action using due process. It is also the job of my principal to explain expectations and procedures to the ATRs placed at my school and give them the support they need to do their jobs.

I did not write about my situation in order to suggest that ATR’s lose their jobs. I am sorry if that has been the effect of my post. I see now the damage that could cause–I become political fuel for the people who want to save money by getting rid of “expensive” experienced teachers who’ve done nothing wrong, but work in a school that was closed down, or where funding was cut. Although it happens in other professions a lot, and people are left to find new jobs on their own, I value the job security our contract provides and our union protects. Teaching is too personal and full of risk-taking to have to worry that you could lose your job if the principal doesn’t like you or a choice you made. There needs to be due process for all of us.

I am going to take Rhoda’s advice and not discuss the situation at my school any more than I already have. In my opinion, the situation is unacceptable on a number of levels, but that may not be for discussion here. I think Renee brings up some productive direction: ‘From what you all have described, it sounds more like this ATR system might be a way for principals or higher administrators to eliminate people they may simply not like (???) as well as those who are not doing a good job. But, the process begs the question, if the person were in fact doing such a bad job, why not just put up the evidence of that and have the person removed from the profession period, rather than continue to pay them a salary? Perhaps what we really need is to examine our processes of evaluating teachers to ensure that those who are doing the work of teaching get rewarded (and protected from unfair dismissal or job loss) and that those who are not get removed.’

It seems like policy makers want to change teacher evaluation and the only thing they seem to be thinking about is using test scores, which I think would be a huge mistake.

Is our current evaluation system working?

What should be the goal of teacher evaluation? Feedback for the teacher? A way to identify and support ineffective teachers? A way to terminate ineffective teachers? A way to encourage and reward effective teaching?

If our current evaluation system is not working, what changes could be made to it that would benefit teachers and students?”

[Image credit: growchangelearn.blogspot.com]

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