Two recent items:
Item #1: Philadelphia's public schools face a $93M budget deficit for the 2014-2015 academic year. To close the gap. the Mayor has put firing 1.3k workers onto the table. In response, the public school teachers' union claims class size will rise to an average of 40 students.
Watchdog.org notes that the Philadelphia School District (PDS) currently has a student-teacher ratio of 16:1, just slightly smaller than the national average of 17:1. How would laying off 1.3k teachers (not "workers," which is the Mayor's proposal) cause the ratio to increase geometrically? (A side note: PDS doesn't report the ratio.) Despite the lack of data, the public school teachers' union has successfully established this claim as central to negotiations.
The Mayor has also suggested increasing the cigarette tax by $2.00/pack to cover the deficit. A typical error in liberal economics. Those taxes will never appear. Counterfeiting, the purchase of cigarettes outside of Philadelphia, and decreased cigarette smoking will kill that revenue line item. People shouldn't be fooled by that erroneous "solution."
Item #2: Public teachers' unions would have people believe that student test scores are the primary means by which teachers are evaluated today.
An article in the Washington Post debunks this claim:
- Test scores rarely account for more than 50% of a teacher's evaluation. Why? Most states use student test scores, classroom observations, and other measures (such as attendance or graduation rates). In Washington, D.C., 35% of a teacher's evaluation is based on student test scores, while 50% is based on classroom observation. In Maryland, 20% is based on student test scores. In West Virginia, it's 15%. Similar percentages are found in most states.
- New teacher evaluation systems are not identifying a large number of ineffective teachers. A 2009 report of 12 districts across 4 states found that less than 1% of teachers rated as "ineffective." Tennessee and Michigan have instituted new evaluation systems. Just 2% of teachers were judged ineffective. Indiana and Florida have also imposed new systems, with ineffectiveness rates of 2% and 3%, respectively.
- No Child Left Behind requires schools to administer math and reading exams in 3rd grade through 8th grade and at least once in high school. In Florida and Tennessee, 66% of teachers are not evaluated because they don't teach those grades or subjects. (It's similar in other states as well.)
- In California, just 2.2% of the state's 250k teachers are fired annually. Yet, California scores significantly below the national averages in math and reading.
The "take away"? The public school teachers' unions are serving up a baloney sandwich! Their bosses would have the public believe that the vast majority of teachers are being evaluated by test scores and this is leading to scores of teachers being fired, when exactly the opposite is the fact.
No one should disagree with the proposition that teacher evaluation is a necessary element for authentic school reform. Yet, the public school teachers' unions continue to spew forth propaganda that's replete with false information. Their goal is to hijack any meaningful teacher evaluation being introduced into public schools across the United States. Sadly, they're winning the debate because too many people believe the disinformation and aren't willing to do the work to uncover the facts.
It's the good teachers and the students stuck with bad teachers suffer who suffer. Judging from the baloney they are promoting, the public school teachers' union bosses could care less about any of that.
Let the discussion begin...
To read the Watchdog.org article, click on the following link:
"When it comes to class sizes, Philadelphia School District's numbers don't add up."
To read the Washington Post article, click on the following link:
"Union freakouts are hurting the hunt for good teachers"