Tuesday, July 05, 2011

How a CPS teacher went from 'excellent' to 'do-not-hire' in one year

As much as I criticize the unions and, in particular, the insanely difficult process of getting rid of even the worst teachers, I recognize that the system is messed up and that there are terrible, incompetent, vindictive principals, so the unions and the union contract are sometimes necessary to defend good teachers against things like what is described in this article: 

As a rookie teacher, she had to learn to take control of her classroom. "I've had some moments," she says. "I've been told to shut the fuck up. I had one kid grab me on the arm and say, 'Move your ass, bitch.' You have to learn how to stand up for yourself."

She thought she was making progress. The principal who hired her, William Gerstein, rated her "excellent" in her evaluations.

But in the summer of 2010, Gerstein was promoted to a job with the central office. And CPS replaced him with Fabby Williams, an interim principal, who moved to Chicago from North Carolina to take the job.

In March, Williams evaluated Bates's performance as "unsatisfactory."

I called Williams to get his side of the story, but he didn't respond to my messages.

According to Williams's evaluation of Bates, her unsatisfactory rating had nothing to do with her ability to manage a classroom or teach science to her students, many of whom are reading on a fourth-grade level. In fact, the evaluation, which is based on Williams's observation of Bates for all of 30 minutes one day, makes no mention of her teaching abilities at all.

Instead, Williams notes that she had not followed his instructions to put printed-out copies of her lesson plans in the red folder that he instructed all teachers to leave in a box in their rooms.

In advocating for a reform of the system by which teachers can be put on probation and/or dismissed, I'm NOT saying that this should be at the whim of any principal.  Teachers should have the right to appeal – but it should be a one-day hearing, not an 5-8 month (or YEAR!) process, in front of a board/judge that isn't owned by the unions.  In addition, there obviously needs to be a massive upgrade of the entire process by which teachers are evaluated.


How a CPS teacher went from 'excellent' to 'do-not-hire' in one year 

By Ben Joravsky


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