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Education Advocates Demand Improved Teacher Evaluation System in Boston Public Schools

The Boston United for Students Coalition called upon the Boston Public Schools and Boston Teachers Union to move forward in implementing in September a new teacher evaluation system.

Boston Public School parents and students and other members of the Boston United for Students Coalition called upon the Boston Public Schools and Boston Teachers Union to move forward in implementing in September a new teacher evaluation system that is based on state regulations and influenced by the Turnaround schools experience last year and negotiations between BPS and the BTU.

The Coalition announced that it supported Mayor Thomas Menino’s decision to unilaterally impose a new teacher evaluation system if the two sides are unable to reach agreement, but it called on the Mayor to implement the system that a bargaining subcommittee comprised equally of BTU and BPS members had shaped.

“That evaluation system represents a vast improvement over the current system and meets the demands of Boston United for Students for a timely and effective teacher evaluation process that supports our teachers while also incorporating accountability for student learning,” said Kim Janey, Senior Project Director of Massachusetts Advocates for Children and a member of the Boston United for Students Coalition.

The new teacher evaluation system is the single most important reform in the proposed new contract for improving the quality of teaching and education in the Boston Public Schools. The new system, which is ready to be implemented, is fair to teachers as it provides strong support for those teachers who need improvement. It establishes a process in which teachers have the opportunity to conduct their own self-assessment and to work collaboratively with evaluators in developing and implementing plans to correct any problems, while affording teachers several opportunities to improve their performance. It provides for the timely evaluation of unsatisfactory teachers and grants school administrators enhanced authority to terminate ineffective teachers within a period of less than one year. 

The BPS is legally required by the state to implement a new teacher evaluation system for all teachers for the 2012-2013 school year based on state regulations and to negotiate a final plan with the teachers' union. 

The Coalition is frustrated and outraged that the BTU has only recently raised new objections to this evaluation system after several months of negotiations on this issue and now mediation.The teacher evaluation system planned to be implemented is based, in part, on negotiations that occurred over a period of several months by a four-person subcommittee comprised of two representatives from BTU and two from BPS. Also, representatives of the BTU were present during training sessions for hundreds of evaluators and information sessions for teachers this summer during which no objections were made.

“Now BTU is playing politics with the education and lives of our children by backing away from this strong teacher evaluation system, which is something BPS parents have been seeking for more than a decade,” said Mea Johnson, a middle school BPS parent, Boston Parent Organizing Network (BPON) leader and Coalition member. “That is unacceptable.”

Research clearly demonstrates that teacher quality is the most important in-school factor determining student learning. The new evaluation system reflects a deep respect for teachers and the difficult job they have.

“You can’t have great schools without great teachers,” said Will Poff-Webster, a recent BPS graduate and current Coalition member.  “As a student in the BPS, I had good learning experiences with many committed and effective teachers, but I also had a few weak teachers. My experience has convinced me of the absolute need to implement a better evaluation system that keeps effective teachers in all classrooms."

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Mayre Plunkett August 20, 2012 at 05:02 PM
I give up. Blame blame blame. Sure ignore the fact that teachers always had evaluations but the principals never did them in a timely fashion.
David Ertischek August 20, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Hello Mayre, Aren't they talking about changing the current evaluation system? Principals not doing their evaluations on time is a very valid point, too.
jshore August 21, 2012 at 05:25 AM
Part 1 of 2 I am very disappointed that the Massachusetts Advocates for Children and the Boston United for Students Coalition has jumped on the demonization of teacher’s bandwagon. This contract could have been settled long ago, but Dr. Johnson has been a virtual “no show” at negotiations. That has been the hold up that has required Mediation. Now Mayor Menino is showing up in her place, and is pontificating and playing the victim card! I have never known the Mayor to show up at the BPS/BTU negotiations. Mayor Menino is not a victim here; he is trying to deflect this mess made by Dr. Johnson. After all he the hired her, and she has demonstrated that she not up for this part of the job. The inexperienced, young administrators she hired from outside BPS to run our schools are not up for the job. These are the people who will be “evaluating” teachers who have devoted their lives to educating Boston’s children! Look at mess Sito Narcisse made of English High, and does anyone need a Peterson reminder! As usual with Dr. Johnson’s administration, the evaluation training sessions for the “hundreds” (?) of evaluators, who were forced to go, and “information sessions” for teachers, where prepared and announced at the last minute! Long after everyone made plans and commitments to take other summer professional development, college courses or teach summer school!
jshore August 21, 2012 at 05:34 AM
Part 2 of 2 MAC and BUSC are misinformed in supporting Mayor Menino to unilaterally impose an evaluation system! I think that the city is misinforming them intentionally! Boston teachers expect to be evaluated, the issue is not the evaluation system itself, but the timeline on improvements needed. Mayor Menino needs to specify, in writing, what the timelines will be. The city wants it vague, the union wants specificity. Given the threats Mayor Menino made in the Boston Globe and media, and the teacher demonization in the press for the past two years by Dr. Johnson and her administration, our Union is trying to make sure evaluations are done fairly and on a level playing field! Since this is Mayor Menino’s first time at contract negotiations, someone needs to tell him that this is a MUTUAL contract between the Boston Public Schools and the Boston Teachers Union! Boston Public Schools is best urban school system in the United States according the Michael Casserly, Executive Director of the Council of the Great City Schools. He said, “The math gains in Boston are among the largest seen by any jurisdiction, state or local, in NAEP’s 30-year history!” That success happened because of the hard work done in the classroom by Boston Union Teachers, not by administrators at Court Street! All teachers are asking for is a fair and equitable resolution to our contract, that is good for children, the City of Boston, and fair to Boston Teachers. We earned that respect!
David Ertischek August 21, 2012 at 06:29 PM
According to the Mayor's press office, Mayor Menino is not attending BTU-BPS negotiations sessions instead of Supt. Johnson. If you are able to provide evidence to the contrary it would be greatly appreciated.

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