THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
July 5, 2011
Congratulations to the National Education Association, whose members have taken the extraordinary, remarkable, unprecedented move of conceding that teachers should be evaluated, at least a little bit, on how well their students learn.
An assembly in Chicago representing the 3.2 million member teachers union recently voted for a policy statement that student scores on standardized tests could be a “limited” part of a broader set of teacher performance indicators. So far, no existing student test appears to meet the NEA’s standards as an appropriate indicator. But hey, the union’s previous standard had been something closer to rewarding teachers merely for showing up and time served, a la Woody Allen’s famous quip about 90% of life. The union also voted to give failing teachers one year, instead of the usual two, to shape up.
Credit here goes less to the NEA than to the laws of political gravity. Teachers unions have never been in such bad odor with the public. More than a dozen states are incorporating test scores in teacher evaluations as part of education Secretary Arne Duncan’s Race to the Top program.
The NEA’s calculus seems to have been driven chiefly by fear of becoming politically irrelevant, which is probably also why they rushed their endorsement of President Obama’s 2012 re-election – more than a year before the GOP ticket is even nominated. But it speaks volumes about NEA priorities that only under historic pressure would its members concede that their jobs have anything to do with student achievement!!!