Monday, April 16, 2007

Why a new system for evaluating employees is needed

During over twenty years of teaching at CVESD, I noticed that some teachers use every available opportunity to work themselves up into a lather as they attack the reputations of innocent children, administrators, parents, and fellow teachers. These hostile teachers would do a better job in the classroom if they focused on improving themselves instead of destroying others, and on the talents and possibilities of students and their fellow employees instead of false and damaging gossip.

Principals are influenced by teachers who use every available opportunity to sit in the principal’s office and promote themselves and make demands about how children and other teachers should be treated. The best teachers spend these times working on lesson plans, but this causes them to lose political power.

In Chula Vista Elementary Schools, good teachers are sometimes pushed out of schools to please teachers who practice personal politics. For example, Luci Fowers was pushed out of Castle Park Elementary when the principal’s decision to move Nikki Perez didn’t go over well with powerful teachers. And Heather Coman was pushed out by Robin Donlan because Robin and her friends didn't think Heather supported their "Kingdoms" program. A majority of teachers voted to get rid of the program before Heather was pushed out, and again after Heather left. So why was she targeted? Because she had low seniority. They did it because they could. Robin Donlan demanded that she be allowed to bump Heather out of her position. Then, when her victim was gone, Robin "decided" she didn't want the position after all.

Good principals are also pushed out of Chula Vista Elementary Schools, because they resist the pressure of destructive teachers. This is why Henry Manriquez was pushed out of Harborside. He didn't show proper deference to the Queen Bee of the school. When I heard that Dwight Sykes was a good principal at Kellogg, I knew his days were numbered. I never heard anything bad about him, but I wasn't surprised when Lowell Billings ousted him. Billings behaved differently toward Sykes' predecessor, who did have black marks against him that were frequently discussed in the district. Billings promoted Hall to the district office.

It would improve education if personnel decisions were made without political pressure.

A new, unbiased system needs to be devised to evaluate teachers and principals. Most elementary school principals have no idea how their teachers actually perform in the classroom, and most district administrators have no idea how principals actually perform at their schools. The district administrators often rely on the same destructive teachers that principals rely on to tell them who to fire.

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