Last week the Boston Teachers Union released a report based onschool department data that showed that the performance evaluation system in place has been disproportionately targeting black and Hispanic teachers, older teachers, and male teachers for potential dismissal. Last week’s report followed an earlier report from last May that revealed the same troubling trends.
As of November 1, 2013, a black teacher who works in the BPS is more than five times as likely as a white teacher to receive an unsatisfactory evaluation. An Hispanic teacher is more than twice as likely.
A male teacher is three times as likely as a female teacher to receive an unsatisfactory. And a teacher older than 60 is twice as likely to receive an unsatisfactory as a teacher between 50 and 59 and 12 times as likely as a teacher between 30 and 39.
The school department, through a spokesperson, maintained that the current system is fair.
The state commissioner of elementary and secondary education reaffirms this belief.
“…Richard Stutman, the president of the union, says school officials and policy makers should be very concerned:
‘There is no trust or confidence in the evaluations,’ he said. ‘But I think the larger issue is why would the school department rely on a system that is race-biased.’
“Mitchell Chester, Massachusetts’ commissioner of elementary and secondary education, takes issue with that characterization.
“‘I think the evaluation we’ve set up in and of itself has no bias in it,’ Chester said…” (WGBH, November 21, 2013)
If the system is fair and unbiased, then how does one justify that after more than two years of data collection — over two separate cycles — the results are skewed along racial, age, and gender lines? The school district has an obligation to explain this paradox. We cannot imagine that these results are random.(See school-by-school ratings of teachers here.)