Evaluating Teachers?

By chance two solid studies on evaluating teachers have been published within several weeks of each other. What is clear is that the present system of awarding lifetime tenure to teachers after only two years of service is both unfair to new teachers and to students stuck with incompetent ones.

Tenure for beginning college teachers usually requires 5 to 7 years in the classroom and includes student evaluations in the tenure assessment. Personally I loved teaching and my students responded with their appreciation. I chose this as my life’s work although I could as well have become a journalist or joined the foreign service — both of which interested me and for which I was qualified. I was one nervous cat during my first semester of teaching at Vassar College and then the barriers came down and teaching became a great joy. I am a blogger now which is a way of carrying on teaching in retirement.

What changes, then, should we make in selecting teachers?

1) We must end automatic lifetime tenure after only two years. That is insufficient time for beginners to get their feet on the ground and it locks in incompetents. College tenure for beginners requires five to seven years of learning and evaluation. The same standard should apply to lower level teaching.

2) We must get rid of incompetent teachers either through early retirement or assigning them to non teaching roles.

The teacher union power figures such such as Randi Weingarten who retired July 31, 2009, “did right by her members”, the New York Daily News said. What turned me off was her deal with Pataki in which she supported his race for NY Governor in return for massive increases in salaries and benefits for teachers. She was a deal maker — but for teachers and not their students.


What Works in the Classroom? Ask the Students

“Financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the two-year project involves scores of social scientists and some 3,000 teachers and their students in Charlotte, N.C.; Dallas; Denver; Hillsborough County, Fla., which includes Tampa; Memphis; New York; and Pittsburgh.”


Brown Center on Education Policy at Brooks


We are in for a chaotic two years of budget cutting with the Republican victory in the House (and also many state legislatures).

Hopefully America will not fall down the rabbit hole of educational failure where it used to be the global leader. The system is now a disgrace. Our dropping rankings in math, science, reading, etc. are a major threat to our national welfare. Perhaps we should shut down some of our 737 (or more) military bases and redirect the savings to education?


“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent [blind copies]

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