Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


January 14, 2010

Teachers union blocks bid for federal money: Teachers' leaders against tying performance to their evaluations

Teachers' leaders against tying performance to their evaluations

The School Committee says Andover missed out on a chance to get federal money for its town schools yesterday, Wednesday, Jan. 13, because the teachers union president would not sign on to the effort.

Superintendent Claudia Bach and the five members of the School Committee had hoped to apply for federal Race To the Top money. The sticking point is that a grant application requires a "memorandum of understanding" to be signed by the teachers union president, superintendent and School Committee chairperson.

The union disagreed with one of the memorandum's frameworks, which seeks to improve "teacher and principal effectiveness based on performance."

After a serious discussion, the 58 member executive board of the Andover Education Association voted unanimously against signing the memorandum earlier this month, said Tom Meyers, AEA president and Andover High School social studies teacher.

"The feeling of the executive board was that if you're going to tie evaluation to compensation, then teachers are tied to student performance. It will drive all education to standardized testing, denying the creativity and tremendous originality that goes into planning lessons in Andover. Rather than benefit education, it would homogenize and standardize education, and not take into consideration all the myriad of learning styles that students exhibit."

The School Committee issued a lengthy statement this week, signed by all five members and the superintendent.

"We do not believe that at this stage there is any downside to all three parties (superintendent, School Committee chairwoman and union president) signing the memorandum of understanding at this time. There is, however, a significant loss of opportunity for money, change and innovation all backed by federal dollars," wrote the committee, in part. "We are disappointed in the response of the union leadership. We believe this is not in the best interest of the children, the teachers and the community."

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