Academic Freedom

Teacher Evaluations Back in the News


The ability to recruit and retain effective, quality teachers is one of the most crucial elements of education reform and improved student achievement. Excellent educators should be recognized for their unparalleled ability to reach students and change lives. Likewise, those teachers deemed less effective by regular, data-driven evaluations should be considered accordingly. All too often, education policies uphold the status quo making it difficult to remove less effective instructors from the classroom. Concerned citizens in New York and Virginia are fighting to improve teacher evaluation policies for their children’s futures.

In mid-March, a New York judge handed a victory to citizens who question the constitutionality of teacher tenure. Current state policy protects educators who have served for just three years, regardless of their performance in the classroom. A group of parents has sued over the issue, claiming this practice inhibits their child’s education. State and local officials and teachers unions filed a motion to dismiss the case, but that was denied.

In The Old Dominion, parents are suing the state to release evaluation data on public school teachers, claiming they have the right to know how their child’s instructors are performing. While parents seek to discern how their children’s teachers are adding up, state and union officials proclaim the release of evaluation data is an invasion of teacher privacy. They allege releasing the evaluations amounts to “public shaming”, and the raw data could be misinterpreted without proper context.

Few disagree that teachers should be evaluated. Disputes arise when the question turns to how and what happens afterward. The battle over teacher tenure and evaluations will continue as parents seek more influence over their children’s education.

In Depth: Academic Freedom

Freedom of speech and inquiry are crucial in higher education. Universities exist to educate students and pursue knowledge. As a “marketplace of ideas,” the university offers a forum for ideas to compete. This intellectual competition produces a level of academic rigor that is impossible to produce without freedom of speech …

+ Academic Freedom In Depth