Why All Children Must be Included in Teacher Evaluations

Why All Children Must be Included in Teacher Evaluations       
By Mike Madigan

The Buffalo School system has one of the poorest track records at educating minority students in the entire nation. The impact this has had on the city can be seen in the 50% minority unemployment rate, and the fact that the City of Buffalo is one of the most poverty stricken cities in America. The status quo can no longer be tolerated.

The following is a review of the case for and against excluding children based on attendance as part of teacher evaluations.

Reason for exclusion: Union President Phil Rumore and the Buffalo Teachers Federation (BTF) contend that teachers must not be held accountable for something they feel they have no control over. It is their position and belief that only the parent is able to control and determine whether a child attends school.

Reason for inclusion of all children: First: The teacher must not be a passive player in the education process. They must be actively engaged and encouraging child participation and engagement. Creation of a welcoming environment is essential to a successful education program. To expect otherwise would be designing an education program that is setup to fail.

Second: If the teacher is rated based only on children above a certain attendance history, and a child is known to have poor grades, the evaluation program actually incentivizes the teacher to create a hostile environment to lower that student’s attendance for the purpose of exclusion. This does not mean that a teacher would act on this incentive, but the fact is that the incentive would exist, and such an incentive cannot be permitted.

Third: If a parent is not sending a child to school, the existence of a rating system that includes all children would incentivize the teacher to engage with those parents to encourage improved attendance.

Fourth: If all children are included, the teacher would be incentivized to engage more with low performing students, even if they have an attendance problem. Exclusion would result in disengagement if it is known there is no consequence, once the student falls below the attendance threshold.  Such a program is not acceptable.

The final justification for inclusion of all children was demonstrated on April 25th, when Superintendent Amber Dixon awarded plaques to 20 Principals. These awards were given for results they achieved at their schools. It was stated that through engagement with the children and their parents, the result was improved attendance at their schools of between 21 and 35 percent. This demonstrated that these teachers impacted attendance and invalidates Phil Rumore’s and the BTF’s claim that teachers have no control over student attendance. Teachers can and do impact attendance and must be rated on it accordingly.

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Mike Madigan is a Congressional candidate for NY District 26, the seat currently held by Brian Higgins.

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