Watch This Lawsuit!

The National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers’ union,  is not a stranger to tying up the courts with lawsuits that have stronger political than legal merits (for instance their unsuccessful pivot to states’ rights advocacy in an effort get No Child Left Behind struck down).  But it’s a mistake to dismiss the new lawsuit in Florida over teacher evaluations out of hand based on that history (and other suits waiting in the wings).   It could have political and legal consequence. As I noted in a 2010 TIME column litigation has always been a possibility here.  And as we noted at Bellwether in “The Hangover” this is a complicated area of policy with a lot of outstanding questions.

5 Replies to “Watch This Lawsuit!”

  1. From the article:

    “This lawsuit highlights the absurdity of the evaluation system that has come about as a result of SB 736,” said FEA President Andy Ford. “Teachers in Florida are being evaluated using a formula designed to measure learning gains in the FCAT math and reading tests. But most teachers, including the seven in this lawsuit, don’t teach those subjects in the grades the test is administered. One of the teachers bringing this suit is getting evaluated on the test scores of students who aren’t even in her school.”

    Sounds like they have a pretty good case.

  2. I’d love to have Bill Gates’ performance be used as the metric for my own net worth. But somehow I don’t think the world works like that. Unless perhaps you are in the parallel universe that is Florida education.

  3. How is this complicated:

    The Florida complaint cites the case of Kim Cook, a 22-year educator who teaches first grade at W.W. Irby Elementary in Alachua County. Because Irby is a school for children in kindergarten through second grade, its pupils are too young to take the state’s standardized test, known as the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

    When it came time to rate the Irby teachers this year, the local school board decided that Cook and other teachers would be judged by the test scores of all fourth- and fifth-grade students in another elementary school.

    “I never met or instructed the students at Alachua Elementary,” said Cook, one of seven teachers who are plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

    The fourth- and fifth-graders at Alachua did not perform well on the standardized tests. Since 40 percent of Cook’s evaluation depended on those test scores, she was initially given an “unsatisfactory” rating at the same time her colleagues honored her as Teacher of the Year.

    The Professional Education Reform Crowd succeeds again.

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