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Extra Credit: Judging Teacher Performance

Dear Extra Credit:

After reading the comments made by Barbara Bancroft Stein ["Are Older Teachers Too Jaded to Be Effective?" Feb. 19], I was uplifted. Finally, someone who actually gets it.
Her words rung with the resonance of truth that has been clouded over by the constant upheaval of D.C. public schools leadership at almost every level for 20 years.
Her example of the principal at Shaw Middle School at Garnet-Patterson is not an isolated one. Last year at Coolidge High School, approximately 34 veteran teachers (with five years' or more experience) were told by the principal that they would not be offered a position at Coolidge for the coming school year. This was done with the approval of the chancellor, who has recently, along with the principal of Coolidge, given an interview on PBS with Bill Moyers degrading veteran teachers. In fact, the principal of Coolidge told Moyers that "if I had my way, I would get rid of 50 percent of the teachers at Coolidge," which turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Although I give kudos to Ms. Stein for stating the obvious, her comments fail to address the elephant in the room: the increased number of not only young but white teachers being brought into D.C. schools with nonwhite populations. These teachers do not have the non-academic tools and skills to deal with young urban black children who have and are experiencing things they have never experienced and will never experience because of who they are and their background.

Harold C. Cox, Washington

I learned long ago it is best to judge teachers by how much their students learn, not by their ethnicity.

-- Jay Mathews

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By Washington Post Editors  | April 2, 2009; 1:36 PM ET
Categories:  Extra Credit  
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Got to go with Jay, here Mr. Cox. If teachers lack the "non-academic tools and skills" to reach their students, their students won't learn and, if the judging Jay assumes occurs, they'll find themselves behind a desk in a cubical instead of in front of a classroom (whether black, white or some other shade).

I would like it, though, if the principals who assess teachers were required to do so more than once a year by appointment (for tenured teachers) to three times a year (for newer ones). Maybe Arne Duncan is on to something with his plans for peer review. Teachers who find that the previous teacher either prepared their students well for the next grade -- or didn't (whether by being boring, ill-informed or lacking skills) have an incentive to "blow the whistle" and ask for remediation for the teacher below or replacement.

Posted by: mct210 | April 3, 2009 7:26 AM | Report abuse

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