Editorial: Don't let NYC teachers stall more on evaluations
Randi Weingarten, who heads the American Federation of Teachers, has called for a moratorium on consequences from the Common Core curriculum exams that 450,000 New York City public school students took last month.
She says she wants to decouple the tests from decisions that could hurt students, teachers and schools. "Put the brakes on the stakes," Weingarten said in an address this week to the Association for a Better New York.
Bad idea. While it was heartening to hear Weingarten support the Common Core standards in her presentation -- and she's right that the rollout has been ragged and messy -- a formal moratorium would be a mistake.
For one thing, it smells like a union delaying tactic. The American Federation of Teachers is the parent organization of the United Federation of Teachers, representing 75,000 city teachers. Until Weingarten embraced the new standards in full, the union hardly seemed enthusiastic about reform. In fact, it has yet to strike a deal with Mayor Michael Bloomberg on teacher evaluations. The state will impose a plan if they can't agree.
For another thing, no one expects great results from the first round of tests. State Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch told ABNY that no teachers or schools will be penalized if students do poorly. They will be measured against each other, not against previous scores, Tisch said.
What happens if an extraordinary number of teachers and schools come up short? The city can't fire every teacher or close every school. But the exams can give reformers a credible idea of where students stand and the task that lies ahead. The unions say the process is creating anxiety in pupils and teachers. Well, that's what tests do. But the results, we hope, will lead to genuine educational improvement. Some families have waited generations for that.
"Put the brakes on the stakes?" Sorry. Politicians, unions and school administrators can bicker and brawl forever about what's fair, what's not, what's reasonable and what's absurd. Procedural fights only take us so far. At some point the reform process has to begin. Time's up.