No use for limited access to teacher evals

Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. said the

Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. said the district-by-district data, originally scheduled for a December release, would instead have to be put out early in 2013. (Credit: istock)

Most parents already know which teachers are great and which ones are lousy in their kids' schools.

So do most kids.

And so do the schools, which likely is why teacher assignments are the last thing they send home in an attempt to reduce the annual parent push to get-my-kid-out-of-there.

All of which makes Albany's discussion of a proposal to limit the release of information about teacher performance to parents -- who then would be sworn to keep teachers' names secret -- puzzling.

Would administrators jail or zap parents with a "Men in Black"-style memory eraser?

Please.

That info would spread through the parent-or-guardian hotline faster that you can say Tommy Lee Jones.

So what, exactly, is Albany trying to hide?

It could be significant flaws in the teacher evaluation system itself. Forty percent of a teacher's rating would be tied to standardized test results, with 60 percent relying on classroom observations.

The idea, apparently, is that objective and subjective scoring equals a winning way to slot teachers into bins generically labeled "ineffective," "effective" and "highly effective."

Long Island parents, especially those whose kids have older siblings, already possess -- and freely pass along -- more specific assessments than that.

But then Albany wants to compound the problem by limiting release of generic information. That can't work either.

Shouldn't every district resident -- remember, most DON'T have kids in school -- be free to get a gander at how a district's staff performs? After all, they do pay the tab, which accounts for the monster portion of the property tax bill.

And why not release a better version of evaluations to the public, via the news media? As it is, both can gain access to salary, pension and other information about public employees -- and public school teachers are public employees -- through databases.

Why should data relating to performance be different? As it is, school districts jump to explain and improve upon low scores on state English and math assessment tests, how many students graduate in four years and how many gain Regents diplomas.

Shouldn't "ineffective" teachers feel public pressure to do the same?

As for complaints that other public employees do not get the same level of scrutiny -- well, given the squeeze on taxpayers and patronage employment run amok in cash-strapped Nassau and Suffolk counties, perhaps they should.

Monday, it seemed unlikely that Albany would reach a deal on whether teacher performance evaluations should be released to the public.

In any case, generic evaluations with limited distribution aren't terribly useful.

Let's grade this one incomplete.