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Monday, Oct 20, 2014
Letters To The Editor

Letters to the editor: Evaluating teachers

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Evaluating teachers

As a former teacher and one experienced in various positions in bank management, it is getting tiresome listening to all the tripe regarding numbers/grades as a means to evaluate the performances of teachers, and then having to listen to the unions’ attempts to discredit any performance evaluation of teachers at all.

Evaluation of teacher performance is not that difficult when you consider some salient facts.

One, although some teachers may inspire some students to work hard and achieve, in most instances the students’ work ethic and performance and achievement are based on the students’ perceived interests, and therefore beyond the performance of the teachers.

Two, the teachers’ “managers” are the principals. Their primary duty is to “manage” the teachers — that is, evaluate them, not only by the “numbers” but by continual observation of their efforts and techniques.

Three, a problem is the lack of incentive for teachers to perform well, so long as their remuneration, and position itself, is secured by union involvement and so-called tenure.

For example, I used to pose this question to my economics classes: Consider the best teacher you have been exposed to in your high school experience; now, consider the worst teacher you have experienced during that same period. Do you think it is fair that they are paid the same, or that the worst is even retained? It is up to the principals to evaluate their personnel, and it is up to the school boards to set up incentivized salary schedules and retention policies — the unions be damned.

If the principals can’t handle the responsibilities of actually “managing,” then replace them. With periodic, unannounced visits to evaluate teachers, I could pretty easily determine who was making a proper effort to educate the students in the selected subject matter. Neither they, nor I, can completely control students’ aptitude/attitude toward that subject matter.

Mike Jones

Lakeland

Other evaluation variables

Regarding “Illogical evals unfair to teachers” (Steve Otto, March 5, Metro): I find it a cause for concern that an education professional’s response to seeing an algorithm is to point and laugh. It goes a long way toward explaining why so many of our young people are working low-wage jobs while our employers import talent from other countries to do the smart, high-paying work.

I’ve read for years that basing teacher evaluations on test scores ignores the many other variables that affect students’ test results.

Apparently, the “value-added model” is an attempt to factor in some of those variables. If, after analyzing the data, experts, self-appointed or otherwise, believe improvements still need to be made, the more productive response might be to write a better algorithm.

Unfortunately, most of us haven’t received the education to know where to begin.

Deborah Hall

Clearwater

Concerns about future

It is getting so bad today to go anywhere without someone having cellphones or iPads or anything to “conveniently” do your banking with, paying a bill and answering calls from a non-person — just about anything you want to do except get great service!

Does anybody realize what that, in itself, is doing to our society? I see people getting laid off, but we are going to bring into our state people who will manufacture these items and help supplement our employment ratio until the owners decide to send them to a foreign country to do it cheaper.

We are cutting back on our national defense and other work trades. It used to be that you could learn a skill in the armed services, and when you served you could carry that trade with you or stay in and serve with pride.

Now the government wants to cut our defense back to pre-WWII days, and other countries are rebuilding their services and naval fleets to prepare for struggles of the future.

One day we will not have jobs or ambitions, and things will get really out of hand. I think it is getting way out of hand, and nobody seems to really care.

Richard Broye

Tampa

Famine-genocide

Perhaps there is an explanation for the large number of Russians in the Crimean peninsula. Soviet leader Stalin murdered up to 10 million kulaks, wealthy farmers, in Ukraine, Kazakhstan and southern Russia between 1929-1932. A website is dedicated to bringing awareness to this ignored catastrophe: Faminegenocide.com. Quoting from the site: “British historian Robert Conquest is an expert on the period, and his 1986 study of the famine, “Harvest of Sorrow,” brought much information about the tragedy to Western audiences for the first time. Conquest said another contrast between the famine and the holocaust is that while Adolf Hitler had written down much of what he intended to do, Stalin did not go on record about the famine.”

Stalin also deported Crimeans to Central Asia, and they returned after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Crimea was given to Ukraine during the Soviet Empire, which was a symbolic gesture to a conquered land. Maybe Vladimir Putin thinks his reward for a Syrian plan should be a reinstatement of Crimea under Russia.

Also, according to the site, “In February, the Ukrainian parliament conducted a special hearing about the famine. The deputy prime minister for humanitarian issues, Dmytro Tabachnyk, said the famine was a deliberate terrorist act that claimed the lives of up to 10 million people. He said the government is planning to build a National Famine Memorial Complex.”

Cathy Starnes

Plant City

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