Thursday, March 13, 2008

Unions and school performance

Unhappy with that C for your school on the report card? Think that the “instructor” didn’t take all the proper measurements under consideration? Consider it unfair and misleading? Do what every student unsatisfied with his or her grades would consider: appeal. That’s the tack the United Federation of Teachers is taking.

During a breakfast speech on Thursday to the Association for a Better New York, Randi Weingarten, the union president, presented a detailed proposal on report cards for schools. Instead of assigning one blunt letter grade, as the city report cards did, the six-page report would grade schools on four areas: academic achievement, school safety, teamwork between teachers and administrators and support from the Department of Education.

Ms. Weingarten, who has criticized the report cards in the past, said that the more nuanced way of judging a school would be more accurate and fair than the city’s A-through-F system. She took great pride in the proposal, noting that the union had poured over the details for months and later calling it one the most “thoughtful and reflective” proposals of her career.

In what she called the most controversial part of the proposal, Ms. Weingarten suggested that the Education Department also be judged on what kind of support they provide to schools, from how much money spent on each student to class size and staff access to computers and student data.

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