Sunday, July 8, 2012

Grading Teachers - Stalling the Stull

The Stull evaluation was a nice idea. The process was implemented by the California state legislature in 1971 in order to keep teachers accountable. Teachers who failed the Stull evaluation twice would be terminated.

Forty years later, I can testify personally that the paperwork is a ruse. How many teacher such as myself have received commendatory results from a Stull evaluation, only to notice that the assistant principal had only observed my class once, while the documents alleged the three required visits had occurred?

At the high school where I worked in Los Angeles Unified, I saw my administrator but one time. He called me into his office at the end of May and requested my signature, shortly followed by the principal's, who had not observed me at all.

The Stull evaluation was a nice idea, but remained an idea, nothing more.

The competition, the accountability that community members are looking for in our schools will never take place from the inside. Internal review and revision more often than not merely justifies the status quo and passes along barely qualified teachers without giving them another thought.

There is no value, none whatsoever, to one Stull evaluation which teachers and administrators cannot follow up in the years to follow, when a teacher has received tenure and cannot be fired.

Doe v. Deasy wants to end the easy hiring and hard firing which has plagued the teaching profession, sandbagging students with the worst teachers, who coast through the system for thirty years collecting incremental salary increase with generous pensions  and benefits waiting for them upon retirement. The lawsuit contends that a constitutional violation of equal access to state resources justifies a much-needed review and rejection of current teacher-tenure laws. Many teachers, in the abstract, certainly hate tenure, as the formality has also stuck them with incompetent colleagues who mar the efforts of previous instructors with a substandard education to follow.

The theory of the case is adequate, if not exceptional. The reality of the case is startling, since the state legislature has a mandate to uphold the state and the federal constitutions, yet in doing nothing about the current crises in public education, now dedicated parents and students have marched into the courthouse to reform the schoolhouse.

The Stull, for all aware purposes, was perhaps a stalling tactic which would comfort voters and aggrandize legislators who decades ago wanted to appear tough on teacher training.

The results to this day have been less the stellar. Dull educational practices, even with resources and standards abounding., have done nothing to improve the quality of public education.

What a shame that taxpayers have to resort to judicial fiat in order to enact reforms and innovations in our public schools. Yet even LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy appears pleased with the certain outcome that he and his district will be found liable and compelled to skirt the powers of the teachers union to implement the long-overdue end to teacher tenure and empower administrators to fire bad teachers.

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