Quolke's Corner 7/26/11

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I must have missed it, but it seems the CMSD has replaced its motto of “The primary goal of the Cleveland Municipal School District is to become a premier schooldistrict in the United States of America.” with “The floggings will continue until morale improves”. Seldom does a week does go by that the Mayor, the Board Chair, politicians, or administrators are quoted in either the Columbus Dispatch or the Cleveland Plain Dealer bashing their favorite targets...TEACHERS and more specifically the Cleveland Teachers. Each article usually includes a disclaimer from those being quoted that this is not “teacher bashing”. Amazingly, those bashing teachers are the first to let you know it isn’t teacher bashing. Sorry, we’re not buying it. 
While teacher bashing seems to have become the national and state norm, the past two weeks have been loaded with attacks and misinformation.   Last Sunday’s (July 17th) Plain Dealer article was particularly eye-opening. Perhaps most troubling is Mayor Jackson’s inference that he believes the Republican run legislature used him and reneged on a promise to make it easier for him to fire teachers. The article further implies that a similar promise was made to the business community. While it is difficult to piece together what really occurred, it certainly sounds like business-as-usual politics and the article certainly implies that there were deals being made behind closed doors.
Not surprisingly, no one from the Cleveland Teachers Union, no one from the Ohio Federation of Teachers, and not a single teacher was interviewed for the article. Had that been the case, maybe some real facts would have been discussed. Facts that the Mayor and almost every legislator we talked to know - but conveniently refuse to acknowledge.
FACT:   The District and the CTU committed through our new Collective Bargaining Agreement to develop a new Teacher Development and Evaluation System that will be piloted in 25 schools next year.  
FACT:   Both the District and the CTU agreed through our Scope of Work to target Race to the Top funding to our new evaluation system. 
FACT: The District and the CTU worked throughout this school year with the Charlotte Danielson Group to develop the evaluation system. Charlotte Danielson is a national expert on teacher evaluation and distinguished in her field.
FACT: The Board has the ability to terminate or non-reappoint a teacher at any time for cause – including poor performance. Principals must conduct evaluations and make the recommendation to the Board for termination. This has happened once that I can recall in 10 years BEFORE the Peer Assistance and Review Program was implemented by the CTU.
FACT:   The CTU Peer Assistance and Review Program (PAR) works. At the end of the 2010-11 school year, the PAR program, which has peer teachers assisting and evaluating teachers, was responsible for terminating and non-reappointing 11 teachers based on evaluations - 4 with continuing contracts. Additional teachers were counseled out of the profession. PAR works to mentor and support teachers and then, if there is not success, teachers must be counseled out of the profession or terminated by the District.
FACT:   The CTU and the District developed an alternative compensation system using Federal TIF (Teacher Incentive Fund) dollars to fund our PAR advisors and fund a school by school merit pay system based on student achievement.
FACT: Student achievement has increased in Cleveland.
FACT:  The Cleveland Teachers Union has always been willing to partner around the tough issues.
During this same time the unemployment rate and foreclosure rate in Cleveland skyrocketed, services were cut, and people fled the city. I could make a fact by fact listing of economic indicators that show the problems and decline faced by Cleveland. It would be easy to start blaming the Mayor and the leaders of Cleveland for all of the ills of the city. But we know better, and understand the challenges that Cleveland faces and for that matter all urban districts face. We are not going to ignore all of the factors that created these conditions. We are not in the business of pointing fingers and blaming others.  
Bashing teachers is NO way to fix education. Those that bash teachers and claim they are not will continue their bashing– but no matter how much lipstick they put on that pig….we are not buying it.
In Union,