October 2011

There has been much discussion of the “Danielson framework” – an evaluation system based on the work of Charlotte Danielson, designed to promote professional conversation and growth. Clearly Department of Education administrators are abusing the framework, using it to promote drive-by observations, using it for ratings when no system has been agreed.

The professional conversation piece – really the part Danielson herself created – is interesting. In the right hands it might even be pro-teacher. But today, that’s not the point.

In the hands of administrators who do not collaborate, this framework becomes a weapon pointed at us. Michael Mulgrew, Ernest Logan, and Dennis Walcott wrote a letter seeking to curb abuse of the framework. But why was the letter necessary?  Did hundreds of principals independently misunderstand the DoE’s intention? Or in the toxic atmosphere of Bloomberg’s third term, do many principals assume their job is to go after teachers? Reports from many schools testify to the lack of collaboration.

We continue to be extremely concerned. Who is evaluating us, and what are their credentials, what is their experience? Will outsiders evaluate? Are administrators with little or no teaching experience qualified to evaluate us? How many observations will occur? What protections will we have against abuse, what safeguards? What will the teacher improvement plan look like? How will the appeals process work? In the current system, we lose all our appeals of U-ratings. How different will the new system be?

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