Over the weekend City Councilmember David Catania revealed privately to "Teachers and Parents for..." member Kerry Sylvia that the purpose of the contrived budget cuts was to get principals to ID their least competent teachers for removal. Today the Washington Post announced the same thing in their lead editorial. So what's the problem with this?
The problem is that the Chancellor has had more than two years to come up with a way to credibly evaluate teachers based on an objective assessment of their competence, according to a commonly held standard of what good teaching looks like. She has failed to do this. She didn't even start trying to come up with such a system until this year. And the budget cut process even bypasses the system she has just recently created. And quite frankly the teachers union has also failed to step up to the plate to offer an alternative way to effectively evaluate teachers.
Telling principals to come up with an arbitrary list of positions to cut to satify a budget cut quota randomly assigned to each school is at best a crude, blunt instrument. Budget watcher Mary Levy questions whether there is a need for cuts at all. Members of the Council also question the need for cuts. It will create ill will, unnecessary instability in every school as students are re-assigned one month into the year, and in many cases the wrong decisions will be made. It seems to us that it will also open DCPS to lawsuits on the part of people who lose thier jobs without adequate rationale or due process. The problem of teachers teaching who should have been subject to a better evaluation system is real, but this way of addressing it avoids the hard work that the Rhee administration was hired to do two and a quarter years ago.