Letters: Objecting to teacher evaluations

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is seeking to limit the Gov. Andrew Cuomo is seeking to limit the disclosure of teacher evaluations to parents of students, not the public. (September 6, 2011 ) Photo Credit: File Photo

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Imagine that the evaluation advocated by columnist Joye Brown in "Limited access to evals useless" [News, June 19] were in place. Would it improve a child's education?

Basing 40 percent of a teacher's evaluation on test scores -- 20 percent on student results on state tests and 20 percent on district-approved tests -- is an unfair burden to place upon a teacher. There are too many other factors involved. Many students are excessively absent. Moreover, rude and inappropriate behavior, a rampant problem in classrooms today, steals more class time from the lesson.

Most important, many students do not complete classroom work or homework assignments. Can we accurately judge a doctor on a patient's progress if the patient does not take his medications, make the follow-up appointments, or follow the doctor's instructions?

The remaining 60 percent of the evaluation is based on observations by administrators, who often have limited classroom experience or have not been in a classroom in many years. Are these administrators the best qualified educators to evaluate a teacher? Do they really understand the dynamics of today's classroom?

Teachers can only provide insight, tools and examples from which to learn. When we think of our best teachers, it is how they inspired us that stands out. We learned how to become better people. There is no test score or form to evaluate that.

Robert Makofsky, Port Jefferson

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Editor's note: The writer is a retired Long Island schoolteacher.
 

This is in response to "Don't hide evaluations" [Editorial, June 18]. Teacher evaluations should be serious, honest, meaningful, constructive expressions since they go to the heart of a teacher's livelihood and future, and are important in enhancing the quality of instruction. They should not be available to the public for several reasons. Administrators, the so-called watchdogs of the system, write teacher evaluations. However, who watches the watchdogs?

Nowhere in the discussion so far is there acknowledgment of favoritism or of having a teacher's response to an evaluation included. Administrators have been known to write teachers up badly to chastise those who are union activists, who confront them or speak up at faculty meetings, or whom administrators are jealous of or feel they cannot control. Often these are the best teachers. Yet they can be made to feel the sting of an administrator's pen for retaliatory reasons, or to simply make way for an upper echelon's friend or relative.

I agree with Newsday that it is important to release assessments of principals. If we're going to see how our teachers are doing, then let's all see how our chairpersons, assistant principals, principals and highly paid superintendents are doing as well.

Peter White, Centerport

Editor's note: The writer is a retired teacher from Northport High School.
 

What would the public do with the information if teacher evaluations were made public? Who would ask to have a developing teacher over a highly effective one? Wouldn't everyone want the best?

I think this would create an awful situation of misinterpreted information and a disaster of teacher shopping. Also, there was a comment that there should be a live feed from classrooms so that parents could see what was going on. As a teacher and dean of students in a New York City high school for some 35 years, I would bet that they would see student behavior in many of the low-achieving classes to be appalling.

The attitude, rudeness, lack of attention and general disrespect for fellow students and the teacher would have a concerned parent up in arms. Teachers need to be tough and fair disciplinarians, but they risk a lawsuit at every turn as they try to deal with unruly students.

It's a big problem and, in my opinion, is greatly affected by the permissiveness of society in general and perceived rights in the classroom. A teacher must have many talents besides knowledge of the subject matter, and such a person can be hard to come by.

Frank Grunseich, Deer Park

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