Opinion: Teacher Evaluations, Figure It Out

Teacher evaluations remains a critical point of contention between the board and the teachers' union.

Teacher Evaluations remain a critical point of contention between the and the teachers’ union.

My understanding, based on information from the January 9 board meeting is there is a current evaluation document in place that was created by both the administration and the union representatives several years ago.

This is a model that the teachers are still pleased with, but the board wants to revamp. Steve Schwartz, the Board of Education’s designated speaker at the January 9 meeting, said this was so they could evaluate “technology.”

Schwartz also said that the Board wanted the evaluation document to be a “living, breathing document” that the board and union could develop together, but that final say would be the Board’s decision.

 That was all stated in the same sentence—as the entire audience that was present burst out in laughter at the contradiction—let’s work together, but in the end we (the board) will make the final decision. It is understandable why the union is hesitant to agree to that.

Schwartz Representation Not Totally Accurate

Schwartz also stated at the meeting that the Illinois Education Association had approved a new evaluation instrument. This is not a factual statement. In researching this issue, I found out that this issue of Teacher Evaluations is an incredibly “hot” topic across the country.

In January 2010, the Performance Evaluation Reform Act was signed into Illinois law.  This act’s main focus alters the way teacher and principal/assistant principal evaluations will be conducted in coming years, focusing on “evaluating teachers and principals based on how much their students learn.”

From this law came the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PERA), comprised of educators at all levels in our state working together to develop a new evaluation model based on the new guidelines.

This model should be in effect by spring and districts can choose to utilize the State developed model or build in the key components of the model into a joint document developed by a local teachers’ union and board of education.

This revised model must be in place by 2016 in Deerfield and if an agreement cannot be reached jointly, “the district shall implement the model evaluation plan established by the State Board of Education”. Interesting.

Both Sides Need More Education

So, basically we have a board and administration that does not have all of its ducks in a row in terms of facts and a teachers union that is making a pretty huge stink about a model that will likely be altered significantly within the next four years anyway, based upon the law.

I understand the teachers are concerned about the here and now and four years seems far off, but there is some pretty clear language about what is on the horizon and what guidelines will need to be met.

I have trouble believing that with all of Deerfield’s education leaders sitting around the table, that the board, administration and union cannot come to a fair, rationale, responsible, dare I say excellent evaluation model for our teachers. Within a few minutes researching online, I found several models that could be a starting point for discussions. 

To the board, administration and union: Figure this out. Please. Reports of agreement on recent points are a step in the right direction. I know evaluations are a point of great contention. There is a lot of information to work with—please work together and continue to take positive steps toward resolution. For our teachers, for our children, for our community. Please.

Anonymous February 02, 2012 at 04:50 PM
As a parent at the meeting, the only thing that upset me was the continual unwarrented interruptions from the audience. I wanted to hear what the administrators had to say. I've already heard your issues and all about your kids; it's enough already! How am I supposed to learn about the administration's side if you don't let them talk! And my understanding was that this was NOT a board meeting, but rather an information session by the administration. I frankly didn't want to hear from the board either, and am glad that they did not speak. They made it clear that they would take individual questions after the meeting. I didn't have a problem with that since I didn't want to sit through everyone else's individual issues. I had my questions answered individually after the meeting, and I did not need to interrupt the session in order to get that result.
Katie Bittner February 02, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Most of the issues brought up WERE NOT OF AN INDIVIDUAL NATURE, they were reflective of the practices that this district has been allowed. They were specific to law and the legall rights protected by IDEA for all students with disabilities. The explanation of IDEA and the IEP process was not what we were told the meeting was to be. It was to be an EXTENSIVE OPPORTUNITY for questions and ANSWERS from District staff. Meeting is small groups to discuss what is working and not working is not a QUESTION/ANSWER Forum. If you and others to know what IDEA is that should have been presented at a Board meeting or separate strategic plan meeting. MANY parents had questions, maybe they were all not speaking, that does NOT MEAN they were not represented!
SK February 04, 2012 at 02:46 AM
And people wonder why the teachers don't have faith in the administration.
Bob Mavet February 13, 2012 at 12:42 AM
A vote to authorize a strike frames the current state of negotiations. So let's employ simple math and check out the scorecard. The teachers voted 261 - 2 to authorize a strike if an impasse in negotations is reached. The Deerfield 109 School Board is comprised of 7 members. So, at best their vote could only be 7 - 0 to maintain the status quo. Next, we should canvass the eligible voters within the District and get their opinion. A simple method would be to have people chime in on their perspective. I suggest that the concerned parents who recently organized circulate a petition for recall of board members. Use the model from the recent recall petition drive in Wisconsin that presented a strong indication of the will of the people. For illustration, the 2010 census indicates a population of 18,923. http://www.deerfield.il.us/assets/1/community_development/ExecutiveSummary-4.pdf There are 2.84 average persons per household. There are 6,586 households in Deerfield. A simple majority of 3,294 households is a nice target to achieve within the next two weeks. If you are concerned about the state of education in Deerfield Dist. 109 and wish to make a change....sign the petition. One person one vote...democracy works when people exercise their freedom of speech and their right to vote! Simple math. A few thousand trump 7 misguided individuals!! Katie, get cracking on circulating those petitions!
Bob Mavet February 13, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Regarding legal services required to comply with FOIA...it appears that the board is fiscally irresponsible and is abusing taxpayer monies. This is certainly not in the public interest. http://www.dps109.org/BOE/Community%20Packets/2-13-12%20Board%20Packet%20for%20Community.pdf As suggested in my previous post, a recall petition will bring this recklessness to a screeching halt!


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