Evaluations at heart of Chicago teacher strike also issue in NC

Posted September 11, 2012

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— One of the main sticking points in negotiations for a new contract for Chicago school teachers is also an issue in North Carolina.

Some education reformers, including President Barack Obama, want teachers to be evaluated in part on how much their students improve. Critics say that relying too much on standardized test scores doesn't take into account other factors, including poverty, that could affect student performance.

"When you put that pressure on teachers, some teachers who are unethical feel like we need to do whatever we can to keep our jobs," said Kathryn Bauman-Hill, a third-grade teacher at Swift Creek Elementary School in Raleigh.

Bauman-Hill used to work in the pro-union states of New Jersey and Maryland and said she misses the rights that teachers unions in those states helped secure.

"We can't get raises. We can't get rights. If you're supposed to work overtime, then you have to work overtime, or you lose your job," she said.

North Carolina is one of the few states that prohibits collective bargaining by public employees and makes strikes by teachers or other public workers a misdemeanor crime.

House Majority Leader Paul Stam said the time has come for North Carolina to treat teachers more like private-sector employees and provide successful ones with merit pay linked to performance evaluations.

Kathryn Bauman-Hill Teachers unions, strikes illegal in NC

"We've done very well by our teachers not to reduce their salaries (during tight budgets)," said Stam, R-Wake. "Public school teachers have been protected more than any others."

Stam criticized the striking Chicago teachers, saying, "Professionals don't abandon their clients, their patients, their customers."

North Carolina Association of Educators President Rodney Ellis agreed that the 2-day-old strike "paints a bad light on educators and the work we do."

Still, Ellis said, "At the end of the day, we always have to make the best decisions for the students."

Bauman-Hill said she wouldn't take to the streets like the frustrated educators in Chicago.

"We are not in this professional to make money. We are in this profession because we love children," she said, adding that she respects the stance the Chicago Teachers Union has taken.

"The unions are creating an environment where it is acceptable to teach and where you feel valued as a professional," she said.


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  • randall0123a Sep 18, 2012

    “Critics say that relying too much on standardized test scores doesn't take into account other factors, including poverty, that could affect student performance.”

    So, a family that is poor means the kids are dumb? There are plenty of well-to-do families that have kids with bad grades, and it’s called laziness. The same sticks for poor families. Some might have a longer road or tougher path to succeed, but only hard work and sacrifice will yield that result. But, since Obama pushes big government, he condones laziness and for government and taxpayers to hand-hold and take care of those that like excuses more than work.

    Teachers and other public employees are definitely underpaid. Cut back on financial assistance and wasteful spending to put taxes into supporting infrastructure for the public as it was intended, and I am sure there would be money to better pay the teachers. Oh yea, but rather than pay teachers, Perdue voted to pay out $50k to Eugenics participants.

  • Objective Scientist Sep 13, 2012

    "It just kills me to hear so called conservatives today. If you succeed, you did it all on your own. If you fail, the government is to blame. The reality is that ANY kid who shows up to school each day... ...Expecting the government to teach your kids basic life skills - like showing up and trying - is NOT conservative!" - post by bill0 - Sept 13, 2012 8:49 a.m.

    bill0... I very much agree. Can't speak for others, but can speak for myself. I have what most would consider a very good job with benefits. To get and keep that job as long as I have I earned 3 degrees from an outstanding University. Did I accomplish that from great personal effort and perseverance? You bet I did! However, if I had not had parents who "insisted" that I go to school, behave myself, and LEARN... my accomplishments would NOT have been possible. I could list infinite other examples of how other people, the school system... and YES - even the "government" played a role in my success! NO ONE is successful alone!!

  • AX MAN Sep 13, 2012

    Here we go again. Look at what democrats are doing to our state. When will they ever WAKE UP !!!

  • bill0 Sep 13, 2012

    It just kills me to hear so called conservatives today. If you succeed, you did it all on your own. If you fail, the government is to blame.

    The reality is that ANY kid who shows up to school each day and puts forth a reasonable effort is going to graduate. If a kid doesn't graduate, it's because their parents didn't make sure they were in class and didn't enforce any rules for doing homework etc. Any real conservative will put the blame/credit where it belongs - with the individual studetns/parents. Expecting the government to teach your kids basic life skills - like showing up and trying - is NOT conservative!

  • Objective Scientist Sep 12, 2012

    In NC and across the USA in our K-12 schools there are bad teachers, mediocre teachers, good teachers, and outstanding/excellent teachers. I was once a K-12 teacher and it is extremely challenging. Almost always a teacher has, in the same classroom, a mix of students ranging from those who truly thirst for knowledge and work at learning everything put in front of them to those who could not care less about the subject and spend their time and energy "disrupting" the class. Any evaluation of a teacher should take a "product in - product out - value added" approach, and to be fair, the degree to which the home environment supports and motivates the student to learn MUST be factored into the evaluation. Keep the good teachers, fire the bad ones - pay the good ones a salary commensurate to their qualifications as a professional and TREAT THEM as a professional. Do not expect teachers to control those things over which they have no control. GET REAL!!!

  • FairPlay Sep 12, 2012

    I am from Chicago and the CTU is striking because they know they will eventually be accountable for 70% of students performing below grade level. They want evaluations out because this can affect their future pay. It is impossible to fire bad teachers in a union. No teacher, police or fireman should ever strike regardless as they all provide vital services. Parents have now started counter strikes against unions today on WGN News.

  • bombayrunner Sep 12, 2012

    fire them all and start over ... and as much as everyone hates it ... this is the Obama way. money grubbing democrats.

  • leeloo67 Sep 12, 2012

    My wife has been out of work for 15 months now - sent out hundreds of resumes, been on a dozen interviews and is in school trying to get more skills. It is a little tough for either of us to read about people complaining about a job or its proposed 16% pay increase over four years. Just bad timing for a strike of all things. They say they're not in it for the money, and true teachers don't get paid much, but you DO actually get paid - something that millions of Americans can't say at the moment.

  • SaveEnergyMan Sep 12, 2012

    Politics and education are actually quite similar when you think about it. Both professions involve trying to help a multitude of less than well educated people and in the end being judged by factors almost completely out of your control. The only difference is that Mr. Stam will be judged in November and the teachers in late May.

    Mr. Stam should count his blessings that his pay is not merit based, or the entire GA would be working for free!

  • SaveEnergyMan Sep 12, 2012

    Let me give an example of why student evaluations should not be the only measure in a teacher's merit. In a factory, one is judged on the final product. If raw materials are defetive, then they are discarded or returned to the supplier. No one expects a worker to produce top dollar merchandise with inferior raw materials. At the very least, expectations are lowered by the manager.

    In a school system, defective product arrives everyday in the form of low performing students from families that don't speak English and environments where education is not valued. The best teacher in the world could not overcome these challenges. Parents are the biggest factor and most simply don't care.

    On top of this, principals have the power to decide who gets into which class. So in order to get rid of a teacher they don't like, simply load them up with low performing students and watch their test scores drop. That becomes the grounds for termination. Politics at its best.