EAST BATON ROUGE, La. – When it comes to the legal question of whether the East Baton Rouge Parish school district had the right to publish the names of teachers who were recently rated “highly effective” under the state’s new evaluation system, our guess is as good as yours.
It’s because teachers unions still want to the public to believe that all teachers are equally effective and should be compensated that way.
It’s a ridiculous argument that the union is pushing to protect its members who aren’t making the grade. Teachers unions have a socialistic approach to compensation – they believe everyone should be on the same negotiated pay scale, regardless of their value to the school district or its students.
We suspect taxpayers would disagree.
The school district recently upset the union by purchasing a full-page ad in local newspaper, recognizing those teachers who were rated highly effective after the first year of the state’s new teacher evaluation system, according to TheAdvocate.com.
The ad purchase was simply the district’s effort to publicly reward its best teachers, and provide an incentive for others to improve.
But the union is protesting, claiming parents have no right to know and that the ad violated state law.
The union cites a section of Act 54, which created the teacher evaluation system, to support its argument.
It says the results of evaluations “are confidential, do not constitute a public record, and shall not be released or shown to any person” except employees, school officials and legal officials, according to the news report.
But East Baton Rouge Superintendent Bernard Taylor cited another section of the same law that says evaluations exist to allow districts to “recognize, reward, and retain teachers who demonstrate a high level of effectiveness.”
It sounds as though state lawmakers contradicted themselves when writing this statute, opening up the issue to inevitable legal battles.
Carnell Washington, the union president, said it would have been acceptable for the district to have a reception to honor the outstanding teachers, but publishing their names went too far, the news report said.
He argued that parents might respond by demanding that their children only be taught by outstanding teachers.
So Washington is saying it’s okay for the school district to privately honor its best educators, but their identity is none of the public’s business. What hogwash. The public pays for the school, and parents have an absolute right to demand quality teachers for their children.
The union would be doing the public a much bigger favor if it spent its time and energy assisting with teacher development and insisting that its members meet certain professional standards.
By protecting the worst teachers, the union is only cheating students. If union leaders think that point is lost on the public, they are sadly mistaken.
By Steve Gunn at EAGnews.org