Fixing schools will require more than teacher evaluations

In Gov. Cuomo’s recent State of the State address, he emphasized education and called for additional teacher evaluation ratings as a means of increasing teacher accountability.

The governor wants to have half of the teacher evaluation ratings decided by how students do on state standardized exams.

Another part of the evaluation would include classroom observations. The teacher tenure system is affected by this since with this new system, teachers would not be awarded tenure unless they got five years of effective ratings instead of the present three years.

In recent years the main responsibility for student progress has fallen on the teaching profession. There seems to be much less attention paid to other factors such as student interest, motivation, learning ability and good educational environment. Without these factors present, no matter how well the instructor teaches, students will have a difficult time learning. It only takes one or two disruptive students to prevent other students in the class from learning.

It will be difficult to evaluate teachers fairly from the standpoint that different areas of the state have communities with students from different socio-economic backgrounds. This will affect teacher evaluation in different ways.

The system has to develop to the point where school administrators, teachers and parents work together to improve student performance.

More attention should be given to students who do not show that much interest in an academic education or in going to college by the state providing vocational school training. That type of education seemed to work well in the period of the 1940s and ‘50s. It may be time to bring it back.

A public school that gives both academic and vocational training can encourage students to stay in school with fewer dropouts.

Teachers have always been shown respect for their efforts. There is too much emphasis on using terms like failing schools and failing teachers. The proper tools and support should be given to our teachers.

If vocational education can become an integral part of our city educational system, it could go a long way toward improving our education methods and increasing our students learning.

This year our state Senate and state Assembly will be considering the governor’s plan for teacher evaluation. It can be hoped that they will be taking an interest in bringing into being vocational training in our public schools.

The governor’s plan also included a call for more charter schools statewide, boosting the number from 460 to 560 schools. New York City would have additional charter schools to open. The charter schools have had some success during the last few years. This trend can continue if encouraged.

Charter schools together with vocational schools can improve our city and statewide education.

There have been many experiments in education over the years. It is time to work with charter and vocational schools, however.

The year 2015 will be a political year in Queens with little activity. There will be no general election except for Queens district attorney and some judgeships.

In the Queens Republican Party, there will be elections for district leaders and county committee in September. The elected county committee will elect a county chairman and county officers.

This year for all political parties in Queens will be a year of preparation for the major elections of 2016, including the presidential race.

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