Captain “Terry” Schettino and Iowa’s “Glass” Bottom Boat

The Law of Unintended consequences will be beautifully illustrated by passage of a law mandating yearly teacher evaluations in Iowa. As an example, the Des Moines school district has at least 4000 certified staff members(probably more). Evaluations don’t happen in a time warp they happen at the expense of other things. To do an adequate fair evaluation you must notify, evaluate in classroom probably twice, no doubt review testing data for several years on an individual student level as averages would be meaningless here and then discuss or remediate as needed.
The Register indicates that it will take around 16 hours in round numbers to make a valid teacher evaluation. Time spent by an administrator who is certified in evaluation (yes you have to be certified to do evaluations in Iowa). So let’s see 16 hours per evaluation times 4000 teachers that’s 64000 administrative work hours or around 8000 full school days. 8000 school days of administrative work on evaluations in the Des Moines District alone, each and every school year. Who is going to do this? Who is going to pay for this? Will the already overburdened principals do it? Unlikely, as I doubt that even if they worked 24 hours a day they would able to clear the additional 64000 hours of work. Even if we take out a third of these administrative hours to reflect the current bi/tri annual evaluation process we are left with around 43000 additional new hours of work in evaluation each year. As evaluations must by necessity take place during the school year that would indicate the need for hiring up to 50 additional administrators just to do evaluations. No matter how many are hired the fact is that we are going to rather paradoxically hire additional minimum wage non-educational clerical staff and additional high wage administrative staff in non-classroom areas during a strained budget period at the same time we will most likely be reducing teaching contact hours in one way or another.

A teacher evaluation process and remediation process has been in place for years in most if not all Iowa school districts. The answer to this “created” problem is simple, if a teacher is bad and does not respond to assistance/remediation , fire them! It’s not a difficult concept to embrace. It doesn’t take another law to be effective, nor does it take prescribed annual evaluations, it just takes an educational administration with the guts to use what they already have in place. It would be an unusual principal who simply by being out of their office and in the halls during the school day would not be able to identify those teachers in need of remediation or assistance. It would be an even more unusual principal who would wait until a formal evaluation to begin some informal assistance/remediation with needful teachers. Wallpaper evaluations may very well cover up the cracks in the system not repair them.

It seems to me that for better or worse the educational tide seems to have turned in Iowa and with our own personal Captain ‘ “Terry” Schettino at the helm steering a “Glass” bottom boat through difficult educational seas. It is still in question whether this looks good, sounds good, feels good educational proposal would raise all ships on a rising tide or as I believe, drive many of them straight onto the rocks.


About safrisri

I was a school teacher until retirement. I have taught at all educational levels from pre-school to college. My college degree is general science which I arrived at after 5 years and 5 different majors. A degree as it turns out, almost as valuable and in demand as one in Neo-Bulgarian Mythology. I have been around education for around 40 years and can remember when teaching was a pleasant, happy and creative job and our schools were the same. Now I'm the guy sitting on the porch with an opinion on everything.
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