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Comments of the week: the gift of gab for the holidays

Yes, we took a brief — and temporary — break from our “Comments of the Week” feature, which our most ardent readers happily reminded us of. But we’re back with a few select comments from the past couple of weeks.

Last week, Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky’s Community Section post about the city’s vision to accelerate the leadership track for talented teachers drew a steady stream of criticism from readers. Smart and ambitious young teachers often appear to be ideal candidates to lead a school — at first, said A.S.Neill. But he said that the strategy does not hold up over time, since good leaders possess more than intellect and a good work ethic.

The problem is that the intangibles to those who look closely are not good. They are ambitious and bright, which later easily turns into arrogance. Although on the surface, they seem to get along with everyone and are polite, in fact, they lack interest in or skill with people (except close friends on the same fast track they are), and for that matter, do not appear to be interested all that much in students personally, except as an object to improve on a test in their upward career path. They are easily overconfident but make basic mistakes often with people. One could go on here, but the basic idea is that they are a disaster waiting to happen.

A good discussion on charter school autonomy in evaluating teachers followed last week’s story on the charter sector’s decision to ignore a request to submit teacher ratings to the state education department.

Leonie Haimson was scathing, charging hypocrisy that charter schools were shrugging off an accountability measure that their closest allies have advocated for.

Isn’t it ironic that DFER, Students First, SFER & all the astroturf orgs set up to support privatization and charter expansion are pushing so hard for a damaging evaluation scheme that the charter schools themselves reject?

Tim, for one, said he sided with charter schools, but thought it might be an appropriate request in the future:

There’s nothing in the state law that calls for charter school teachers to be evaluated on the same basis as district school teachers, or for any such evaluations to be publicly reported. If charter authorizers want to start working this requirement into future authorizations/renewals, then that would be a different story.

This week, we published a national story from our friend Sarah Garland at The Hechinger Report. The report detailed the changes — big and small — that other states had made to their own evaluation models since implementation. To Former Turnaround Teacher, the changes were symbolic:

This is a very telling quote about the purpose of these evaluation systems, And one of the reasons D.C. changed its rating system this year is because the vast majority of teachers continued to be rated as either effective or highly effective. So under the new system teachers were still being rated well…Isn’t it possible then that the teachers are doing their job and thus not the problem? Nope that can never be the answer, so therefore we must change the system again so we can fire them more easily.