Target: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Goal: Prevent evaluation of teachers based on student test scores
The Chicago Teachers Union strike has recently come to a close, but the issues that teachers are fighting against are hardly solved. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has apparently won the battle against the strike, as he pushed throughout the strike to get teachers back in the classroom, even going so far as to file a lawsuit against the protest. While the atmosphere is calmer externally, the new educational reform he has laid out for the teachers of this district remains problematic, and teachers are still not content with the conclusion.
As a result of Emanuel’s reform, teachers will be evaluated based on the performance of their students in the classroom, and the evaluations will not take into account the students’ socioeconomic status, their learning disabilities, or other external factors that play into education. Up to thirty percent of teacher evaluations will depend on test scores alone.
President of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, says that society is suffering a “growing obsession with high-stakes testing, denying kids the rich learning experiences they need.” Indeed, if teachers are judged predominantly on the supposed intelligence of their students, they are forced to teach their students in a manner that will improve empirical test scores at the expense of truly learning the material, and it would be a ridiculous assertion to claim that objective test scores fully measure the intelligence of students.
Many bright students are intelligent, but poor test takers. Some students who excel at testing are simply good at memorizing and regurgitating information, but lack the ability to apply their knowledge or remember it long term. Standardized testing is a poor way to measure teacher performance.
While the alternative measures, such as evaluating course material and lesson plans or observing classrooms during class time, would be much more time consuming, any method so bald as an objective test score to determine the effectiveness of an educator is simply absurd. Teachers should be given the liberty to teach their students with the goals to learn and grow, not to get a perfect score on a test.
In this way, students are more likely to be interested in their schoolwork and therefore also more likely to perform well on tests. So while the teacher’s strike may be over for now, it does not mean that the problems they have fought to mitigate are solved.
Tell Mayor Rahm Emanuel that teachers should not, and cannot, be evaluated by these unfair methods. Education is a complex but wonderful privilege, and to restrict educators is to restrict the success of today’s students.
Dear Mayor Rahm Emanuel,
Thank you for seeking to reach agreements with Chicago Teachers to better education for the students of Chicago. While the strike seems to be coming to a close, it is important that you do not neglect teachers and undermine their efforts by evaluating them based on the standardized test scores of their students.
This would be unfair and it would force teachers to restrict their teaching to methods that improve test scores, thus denying children the “rich learning experiences” they need to grow and apply their knowledge in today’s world. In the words of the President of the American Federation of Teachers, please do not deny teachers the important “tools and conditions they need” to do their jobs, and then blame them for educational problems.
You can mitigate this issue by removing this controversial aspect to your new educational reform. Do not judge teachers based on the performance of their students. Teachers simply cannot control the many aspects that play into a child’s educational experience, including their socioeconomic status or learning disabilities. Children would benefit if teachers were given liberty to conduct their classroom around learning, not testing.
[Your Name Here]
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