Should New School Superintendent Cave to Teachers so Soon?

Snuggling up to the union has never worked out particularly well for Pinellas County School Superintendents.

The new teacher evaluation system continues to create a fire storm among teachers. The system appears to be rife with problems and everyone from the superintendent to the school board is putting as much distance as they can between themselves and the evaluation system.

Since everyone generally agrees that the system has serious flaws, the question arises as to why the new Scholl superintendent would feel constrained to write a letter teachers can request and put in their personnel file that contains some language about how screwed up the new system is and their low evaluation score may not be their fault.

For more detail Curtis Kruger from the Tampa Bay Times has a good article For Pinellas teachers upset about evaluations, superintendent writes letter of explanation. 

The problem I see with this approach is once in the file, the letter will stay forever. Any teacher with a nickel's worth of sense will want one of these letters in their file, regardless of their evaluation score, because the first time any action is taken regarding their performance out the letter will pop.

The entire conversation will shift to the evaluation system and that is precisely what the teachers union wants. Does not matter if it is next week or five years from now.

Superintendent Grego is about to find out how good the Pinellas County Teachers Union is. They have run the show here for years and if he caves in early he will be just as ineffective at cleaning up the school system as his predecessors.

Everyone knows the evaluation system the Administration created is flawed. There has certainly been enough press. The Union made sure of that.

Grego and his Administration should quickly go back through the evaluation system and get a revised proposal to the State as soon as possible. Let's stop apologizing, creating documented excuses for poor performance and just get it fixed.

Then there is also the left hand chance that the system is more accurate than the teachers want to admit and the poor performers really are -  poor performers.

Speaking of the Administration, if Grego hasn't already started a major house cleaning, the party is already pretty much over.

Snuggling up to the union has never worked out particularly well for Pinellas County School Superintendents, I doubt  things have changed.

e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook Friend request.

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jalen November 19, 2012 at 04:15 AM
it is good to know that education is a top priority. diplomacy is clearly needed and the system needs reform. At the end of the day the students are the ones at risk... in the meantime checkout www.inspiretampabay.com. great article doc!
Lynda November 19, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Doc, I am troubled by the seeming bitterness you have for the Pinellas teachers' union or actually the whole concept of teachers being unionized. Are you surprised that any teacher evaluated under a clearly flawed system would want an explanation? Are you saying the union did not have the right (or duty!) to publicize the flaws in a new evaluation system? I am not sure why you wrote this article other than you woke up feeling extra cranky. Schools all over this state and this country are struggling. And teachers' unions are not the only reason for their struggles. This article makes me think you are much more interested in placing blame on a union than you are in finding solutions here in Pinellas. And that certainly isn't helpful for the new superintendent.
Rob Fowler November 20, 2012 at 01:19 AM
I have a feeling teachers with little dedication and low quality teaching skills in a classroom where the kid's parents are educated and involved may have better results as far as the evaluation system than 100% dedicated teachers with excellent teaching skills who have a classroom full of kids from homes of uneducated and struggling single parents. The risk is that the best teachers will end up where their skills are not as valuable for our society because they will be able to choose the easiest schools to work and make the most money teaching kids who will do well no matter who teaches them. A perfect evaluation system would place those teachers where they will do the most good while making the best money. Give the easy kids to teachers who are not as good. Pay the best teachers based upon the difference they make, not the grades the kids get. Teaching an "F" grade student to read and get a "C" when they graduate is impressive to me, taking an "A" student and maintaining that "A" is something most teachers can do without a lot of creativity.
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