School officials undermine city teachers

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Pittsburgh’s teachers give their all every day to nurture and develop our children. So why is the school district — based on arbitrary standards pulled from thin air — so eager to fire them?

The Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers and the district invested five years developing a model teacher evaluation and growth system. We were close to creating a system that builds positive, collaborative and meaningful teacher supports when the district abandoned collaboration. It decided, arbitrarily and unilaterally, to place 15 percent of Pittsburgh’s teachers on a path to termination.

District officials ignored the best research in the field of teacher evaluation and discounted the expertise of our PFT staff.

Most disturbing, Pittsburgh Public Schools disregarded the guidance it received from the state Department of Education, which said the district’s approach may violate the state’s teacher evaluation law and may not be permitted beyond this school year.

The PFT has always supported high standards for our teachers. Labeling teachers with a number is not a framework for great teaching. The district is oversimplifying a complex evaluation system to a single number that will label too many good teachers as poor performers. It will most certainly dissuade potential teachers from applying to our district.

We partnered with the district on an evaluation system to help improve teaching and learning, and we remain committed to creating a system of high standards and adequate support. We simply want to be graded on what we do, not an assumption pulled from thin air.

Let’s finish our work and deliver on our promise to provide Pittsburgh with a rational, supportable and permanent system that ensures quality education for the children in the city.

Pittsburgh Federation
of Teachers
South Side

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