In recent weeks I’ve been to a number of union meetings of my state and national unions. Common to too many of the leaders present at all these meetings was a very unfortunate characterization of the evaluation of teachers prior to the recent accountability rage as “drive-by observations.” If these evaluations have been that meaningless, why is it that almost every teacher I’ve known in over forty years in public education anguishes in anticipation of being observed and takes deeply to heart every negative word in the final written document? Why is it that those observation reports that I get to read often go on for pages, documenting and criticizing almost every move the teacher made during the lesson being observed?
To suggest as some union leaders do that teachers have not been held accountable for their performance until now is to betray the people they are elected to represent. They give aid and comfort to the enemies of public education and to all of those who work in public schools. Such thoughtless, reformist positions alienate members from union leadership and weaken our ability to defend ourselves. It is essentially spreading some of the right-wing’s propaganda about us. Certainly no teacher I know believes she has not been accountable for her performance.