In a recent article, New York teacher evaluations reveal that most teachers are deemed highly effective while Blacks continue to lag behind in student achievement. The state data reveals that 9.2% of the teachers were rated highly effective, 82.5% were rated effective, 7% were rated as developing and 1.2% were rated ineffective. Outside of New York City teacher evaluations reveal that 58% were rated highly effective.

One of the challenges with the New York teacher evaluation is the evaluator. Many teachers are evaluated by a principal or assistant principal. It places the administrator in an awkward situation. If the teacher evaluation for that school reveals that most are ineffective it would have a tremendous impact of the schools culture.

Many teachers would become disgruntled and further exacerbate their ineffectiveness. School districts underestimate the power of a disgruntled teacher who is pissed off because of a teacher evaluation. Disgruntled teachers are known to:

  • Create irreversible damage to students
  • Alienate parents and cause very expensive mistakes
  • Bad mouth the school to other teachers and parents
  • Stop potentially good teachers from coming to the school
  • Cause other teachers to become upset and disengaged in their work as well
  • Become tardy or absent and miss deadlines

Teachers who receive an unfavorable teacher evaluation can become harmful to the school and the principals are aware of this. They know that the teachers are the front line employees and the principal can not effectively manage the school with out teachers and teacher cooperation.

Teachers who also receive an unfavorable teacher evaluation are more likely to solicit the support of their union to ensure job security. Unions play a vital role in schools, however they also play an invaluable role that continues to support racism in education which results in the underachievement of Black students.

Teachers unions help to make sure that teachers remain employed through tenure. Tenure is the practice of guaranteeing a teacher their job. Originally, this was a due process guarantee, something intended to work as a check against administrators capriciously firing teachers and replacing them with friends or family members. It was also designed to protect teachers who took political stands the community might disagree with.

While tenure laws have enabled teachers to remain employed, it has also continued to empower teachers to resist as a group any efforts to improve the educational system. The tactic that union leaders use to ensure that teachers remain employable is paramount to fancy footwork in a dysfunctional organization.

A dysfunctional organization has five levels of progression. The first level is defense mechanisms. Defense mechanisms are the unwritten rules an individual learns and utilizes to effectively deal with circumstances that are upsetting, embarrassing, or threatening. The second level is skilled incompetence is learned from the regular application of a defense mechanism that has a high degree of incompetence embedded within it, because we are unaware of how this skill will impact our future. Skilled incompetence transforms into a defensive routine. Defensive routines are the third level. When the skilled incompetence is automatically exhibited at all times, the behavior is now a defensive routine. Defensive routines lead to the fourth level fancy footwork. Fancy footwork happens when individuals try to deny the behavioral inconsistencies they exhibit, or else they place blame on other people, which results in distancing themselves from taking responsibility for their behavioral inconsistencies. The fifth level is organizational malaise in which individuals in the organization will seek to find fault within the organization rather than accept responsibility for their actions and correct their behavior accordingly. The individual continues the process by accentuating the negative and deemphasizing the positive in an effort to cover up their actions. The organizational malaise is further exacerbated by a refusal of one or all the members to discuss their area of responsibility.

How does this play out with teacher evaluations. The defensive mechanism is the need for the teacher to remain as an employee – for survival purposes – in the school even though the administrator may attempt to remove the teacher. Skilled incompetence comes into play because the teacher will try several strategies to ensure that they survive when they realize as a tenured teacher that all they have to do is to bring in their union representative to protect their livelihood. The fancy footwork becomes evident as the teacher denies that they are the problem and the problem is the parents or the students social-economical situation.

Scores of teachers believe that it is unfair to rate them according to student test scores due to flaws in the computes models that isolate a teachers impact on the students. Other teachers feel that factors outside of the classroom such as poverty have a greater impact on student achievement. Therefore, emphasizing the fancy footwork stage in a dysfunctional organization. And in this case, a dysfunctional school.

How do we off set the characteristics of a dysfunctional school due to teacher evaluations?

  • Begin the teacher evaluation process by piloting any proposed strategy in one elementary, middle, and high school
  • Base the teacher evaluation primarily on the product which is student achievement.
  • Base teacher ratings on pre and post student achievement assessments
  • Categorize teachers rating in three categories – advanced proficient, proficient, and non proficient. Advanced proficient rating means that the student advanced at least one an one half a grader level when comparing their pre test scores. Proficient means that the students advanced one grade level when comparing their pre test scores. Non proficient means that the students did not advance one grade level when comparing student to their pre test
  • Base teacher raises on advanced proficient student advancement only. Any thing less does not warrant a raise because proficient meant that you did what was expected and non proficient means that the teacher did not do a good job.

Since the majority of New York City students are not advancing at a pace that will enhance the quality of life for the children that they service, the community, schools officials, teaching staff must implement teacher evaluations that are help students and not ensure that bad teachers remain in the educational workforce. Without improvement and accountability by utilizing teacher evaluations, teachers will continue to fuel classroom racism (Cloomism).

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012


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