Sunday, August 15, 2010

California passes Rate-My-Teacher law

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Let me say that back in school I knew a PE teacher that I would have rated…

Oops.  Wrong kind of rate-my-teacher.

Let me introduce to California’s teachers Senate Bill 1422, otherwise known as the Rate-My-Teacher Act.  The bill, which passed the legislature, would allow student governments at schools to create surveys for teachers to give to students to complete.  Actually, it doesn’t have much.

-Teachers may choose whether or not to use the student surveys.

-Only the teachers may see the result of the surveys.

-Administrators or district officials are not allowed to see the survey results without written consent of the teacher.

-The surveys can’t be a part of any evaluation or be placed in a teachers record.

In essence, it is a law with nice intentions, but no real authority.  Oh, and in a move that surprises absolutely nobody, the California Teacher’s Association opposed the bill.

Like many teachers, I’m of two minds when it comes to student evaluations.  Students evaluate me every year on a form that I created and I have no problem sharing the results.  For the most part, they are pretty good.  They are pretty public too.  Just scroll down to around June of every year and check out what students have to say about me.  I do the form because I think students give some of the best feedback, although I’m also well aware that we are dealing with teenagers.  Still, a vast majority of the feedback is very valid, even if some of it won’t change my teaching.  I’m also required to have 15-16 year olds evaluate me for basketball, which is not made public and is reviewed by the athletic director, the principal, and the varsity head coach.  Now those evaluations are a sight to see.  A lack of playing time makes young teenagers rather irritable at the end of a season, and often very profane. 

Student feedback is very valuable for the teacher, but to assume that written feedback should decide whether or not a teacher should be retained would be incorrect.  Believe it or not, just about everyone in the school can point out the five best and five worst teachers, from the students to colleagues to administrators.  The need for that in writing is pretty unnecessary for justification reprimand or removal.  Oh, and the excuse that the “easy” teachers will get better reviews doesn’t hold much water either.  Students don’t want their time wasted, and the phrase “Dude, you don’t have to do shit in his/her class” is not one of respect.  Tough teachers that are good teachers get their props, and that is shown over and over again when talking to students, every kind of student. 

So thanks to the state legislature for passing a totally useless law while the state budget remains in limbo.   

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