Thursday, June 02, 2011

Brilliant speech by LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

A brilliant speech by LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in which he calls for California to lift its minimum years of employ to achieve teacher tenure from 2 to 4 years, and says he'd like to see it re-earned in subsequent years.  He also calls for changes in the current evaluation process, expanding it to include multiple measures, including student growth.  Here's an excerpt (it's also posted at:


A few months ago, I had the opportunity to talk to a group of teachers at a Teach Plus townhall. This organization is doing some fantastic, innovative and progressive work in support of teachers. Their event was a real learning experience for me, and not just because I was surrounded by devoted educators!

Nearly everyone present agreed that in-class observation is a critical component to measuring teacher effectiveness. After learning that many principals never even set foot in the classroom, I asked teachers to raise their hands if they had ever been evaluated without any observation.

Nearly two-thirds of the hands in the room went up. I was shocked.

But when you consider that over 99% of teachers in LA Unified receive a satisfactory evaluation, you realize that the current system just isn't functioning the way it should. Or functioning at all. Think about it this way — if over 99% of students received "A" grades, wouldn't that "A" lose its meaning?

Of course it would.

The question we really should be asking is how can we expect teachers to excel in the classroom with minimal feedback and support? How can we expect schools to hold themselves accountable when we have absolutely no idea who is succeeding and who is falling short in the classroom? Most importantly, how can we expect students to achieve at the highest levels if we have no accurate measure of teacher effectiveness?

Our schools will never truly serve all students — and all teachers — until we have a robust and relevant teacher evaluation system

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