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Letters: Make teacher evaluations public?

A file photo of a teacher in a

A file photo of a teacher in a classroom. (June 16, 2006) Credit: Getty Images

Given that Joye Brown in her column entitled "Limited access to evals useless" [News, June 19] refers to the "flaws" in the proposed teacher evaluations, the thrust of her argument, that they merit greater public exposure, seems bewildering.

She begins by claiming, "most parents already know which teachers are great and which ones are lousy." On what is either the premise or the judgment based? As an educator of teachers, I believe that most parents would rate a teacher who gives lots of homework as great, despite mounting evidence that homework has limited to no academic benefit and can have deleterious effects on children and families. But will that information be so accessible to parents?

And then, of course, we have the test scores. Teachers would be publicly branded if the test scores of their students went down from one year to the next. Never mind that the teacher might have had more children in her class, or more with special needs, or more subjected to the stresses and deprivations of our times.

So what must a teacher do to avoid such humiliation and endangerment: Steer clear of needy children, teach to the test, and forgo any subjects, needs, enrichments or passions not on the test? Do these tests develop critical thinking, social aptitude, intellectual curiosity or lifelong learning, or are they more likely to create students, and teachers, who are little more than drones?

Alan M. Weber, Medford

Editor's note: The writer is an assistant professor of early childhood education at Suffolk County Community College.
 

Should teacher evaluations be displayed for the public to see or should they be confidential? Teachers are public employees and the public pays their salaries; I believe the evaluations should be displayed. But I believe it is unfair to select one group (almost sounds like discrimination) of public employees (teachers) while excluding all the other public employees from the same standard.

Be fair and show evaluations for all public employees -- police officers, firefighters, custodians, security guards, accounting clerks -- at all government levels, or don't show any. Play the game fairly, or don't play at all.

Henry Smith, Floral Park
 

No one can argue against employees, especially those paid with taxpayer dollars, being evaluated regularly. It is also reasonable to allow taxpayers to see the results of the evaluation.

That said, there are serious flaws in the recently enacted legislation that will supposedly release teacher evaluations only to parents of students in each teacher's class ["Teacher evals: Who'll see them -- and who won't," News, June 22].

First, the teacher evaluations will be based in part on student test scores. Only weeks ago, those tests were shown to be seriously flawed by typos and questions that had multiple "correct" answers. Has anything been done to address this problem, or are we simply giving tests that do not give an accurate picture of student achievement and, supposedly, teacher competence?

Second, anyone who thinks that the contents of teacher evaluations can be limited must also believe in Santa. This information will be passed among parents like a virus in a college dorm. Parents speak with each other, typically including statements like, "She's a great teacher," or "He's a horror show as a teacher." This is transparency and accountability?

Chris Marzuk, Greenlawn

Editor's note: The writer is an assistant superintendent for the Eastport-South Manor Central School District.

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