However, I have two primary objections to the position of the CTU, of which I am a member because I work in a traditional Chicago Public School. First, I don't support the status quo surrounding a teacher evaluation system that abstains from incorporating student performance as a basis for determining teacher value. Second, I don't support seniority-based hiring and firing practices, including job security through tenure.
I differ from the CTU in that I support the inclusion of student academic growth data as a key component of a teacher evaluation tool. The student assessment tool proposed in Chicago is a computer-adaptive test designed to measure academic progress. It adjusts as students progress through the assessment to pinpoint their achievement level. Thus, it can be used at the beginning and end of a school year as a means of ascertaining students' academic growth.
Still, the proposed teacher evaluation system is insufficient with only student growth assessments. Fortunately, the proposed REACH Chicago Students system integrates student growth measures with classroom observations and student feedback. The corresponding weights of each of the three components are debatable, but each of the aforementioned criteria for evaluating teachers is essential for establishing a fair teacher quality metric.
My second issue with the stance of the CTU is their aherence to seniority serving as a primary factor in hiring and firing decisions. Stemming from my previously stated complaint pertaining to teacher evaluations, I believe teachers should be hired and fired according to the evaluations they receive. This is assuming the teacher quality measure is fair and balanced, which is a precondition I assume under the REACH Chicago Kids evaluation system.
Teacher quality, not merely experience, should be the number one determinant for a teacher being hired or fired. This is fair to teachers and fair to students. I do believe teachers should be rewarded in some way for their extended commitment to a school or district, but I believe this factor must be secondary to teacher quality. If we hold principals accountable for their school's academic progress, then principals should be able to hold teachers accountable for their performance in the classroom.
In my opinion, the biggest issue preventing constructive collaboration and solutions in CPS is a result of the discordant and abrasive relationship between the Board and the CTU. Both sides continue to antagonize one another in an effort to make the other side seem aloof, irresponsible, and disingenuous. I truly believe each party wants to accomplish the same thing: attaining the highest quality public education for Chicago's kids.
Unfortunately, all has been lost in a counterproductive negotiating process in which leaders on both sides seek to demean the other and simultaneously neglect the students they are responsible for serving.
-- Anonymous Chicago Public School Teacher
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