News that a Rhode Island teachers union has won a $200,000 union-funded grant to develop teacher evaluations can’t help but stir fears that the fox wants to guard the henhouse. Public-employee unions, after all, are in the business of promoting their own economic interests, which do not always coincide with the interests of students.
Yet it appears to be welcome news that the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals, under Marcia Reback, will be working to help develop some standards for weeding out sub-par teachers early on in their careers.
“The union is tired of being portrayed as a protector of bad teachers,” Ms. Reback said.
In a sense, the unions do have an economic interest in promoting higher standards in their profession, since that tends to build public support for giving teachers greater financial rewards. And early in their career is an excellent time to evaluate fairly whether teachers can truly cut the mustard. Under Ms. Reback’s proposal, unions would work closely with administrators to develop a proposed system of evaluations.