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."