Monday, June 20, 2011

Teachers? No. Incumbents? Yes!

Among the many factoids tossed around in the current education wars is the satisfactory evaluation rates of teachers. Pennsylvania Education Secretary Ronald Tomalis is quoted in "Virtually all of Pennsylvania principals rated satisfactory, but state education secretary says that doesn't square with student test scores," by Jan Murphy 6/08/2011 Patriot News, as saying:

“It is very difficult for me to rationalize how our state can have virtually 100 percent of educators evaluated as satisfactory when, based on the statewide assessment, one-in-four students are scoring below proficient in reading, and one-in-three are scoring below proficient in math," Tomalis said.

For contrast, let's take a look at the evaluation rates of another occupational group: incumbent elected officials:

In 2010, congressional and senate incumbents nationwide were re-elected 98% of the time (95% if you count those who faced a primary). See "Anti-Anti-Incumbency
The 2010 election meme that refuses to die
," by Christopher Beam, Slate, Aug. 4, 2010

In 1994, the Pennsylvania State House and Senate had respective incumbent re-election rates of 98% and 95% (National Conference of State Legislatures, 1996)

"A Certain Uncertainty," (June 21, 2005 by Dr. G. Terry Madonna and Dr. Michael Young found that:
Nationally House congressional incumbent reelection rates have exceeded 95-percent for almost two decades. In recent election cycles, fewer than ten percent of House seats (about 30 of 435 seats) are considered "competitive." In Pennsylvania, state legislative incumbents have been reelected even more consistently, presently averaging 98-percent.

If one follows Mr. Tomalis's logic, 98% incumbency re-election rates would be justified if students (would that be us voters?) were doing well, or if the legislators were doing a great job. Do you think you are doing well or that your elected officials are doing great job? Do all but 2% of our elected officials really deserve to keep their jobs?

If teachers are threatened with job loss because of the performance of their students, shouldn't elected officials lose their jobs if their constituents have high unemployment rates or poor environmental conditions?

One so seldom hears those in government talking about their own job security rates. But teachers these days are fair game.

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