December 8th, 2010

WATCH: Toledo, Ohio's PAR Teacher Evaluation System

“If only teacher unions didn’t protect bad teachers, everything would be fine.” Doesn’t that sound familiar? This is a common opinion these days, whether it’s in that famous manifesto from leaders like Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee or in movies like Waiting for Superman. Is the charge true, or is this an easy answer with a convenient villain?

We went to Toledo, Ohio to investigate a system called PAR, or Peer Assistance and Review, that was developed by the local union and approved by the school board in 1981, nearly 30 years ago. Some now say that every school district should adopt this approach because it weeds out ineffective teachers. Can teachers be honest brokers when it comes to evaluating each other?

This program is made possible by the following funders:
Grade Level Reading Fund of the Tides Foundation, The Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.


PodcastAccomplishing Change

When Toledo Teacher’s Union President Dal Lawrence implemented PAR or Peer Assistance and Review in his school district, he was met with skepticism. Teachers evaluating one another? Having the power to recommend the dismissal of a peer? John Merrow brings us the story of the program’s rocky startup and how the union leader persevered to bring about this controversial change. Listen to the story.


Li Li LiProblems with the Toledo Plan

The Toledo Plan has been held up as a model for the rest of the country – a successful collaboration between a school district and a teacher’s union. But according to some Toledo parents, the plan only looks good on paper. John Merrow reports. Listen to the story.

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Teacher Unions are not the answer but can be part of the solution. There is no defensible data that says principals rate teachers as effective 97%of the time because there is no defensible data set on that question. Principals do need to do a better job and when properly educated and part of a sound system can do a better job.

It has been shown in TPS that more teachers are dismissed when the TFT/union evaluated than when principals evaluated. TFT has objective tools that are based on performance and facts, not opinions.

Is the charge true? You know the answer, yet you don’t post it to tease your show. Just leaving it out there in the ether as a legitimate question legitimizes anyone who thinks, erroneously, that unions protect bad teachers when they don’t. You are perpetuating an easily debunked myth for your own gain. How pathetic.

This is called irresponsible journalism.

And, PAR is inhabited by politically savvy members who often have no business making evaluations of others.

If the peers are in the classroom and at the same school, maybe it could work. In most districts, the reviewers are retired, connected old bags who do what they are told as opposed to looking at the teacher in need and actually helping them.

It’s all about power, and money (and exposure for one’s show).

I personally think teacher evaluation systems are a good thing. It’s good to have personal feedback.

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