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Rating Teachers in L.A. Schools

September 21, 1997

* In your Sept. 14 editorial, "Grading the Teachers," you piously extol the very practice today's highly competitive, quality-driven companies abandoned long ago--grading and ranking employee performance on numerical "results," consigning the hindmost to the devil. The late Edwards Deming, guru of the quality movement, believed that most employees had an innate desire to do a good job. The important thing, said Deming, is to examine the process. If you have poor results, it's the system that has to go, not the person.

So it is in our schools. Peer review, which United Teachers Los Angeles advocates, examines what a teacher's practice is within the context of administrative and parental support (or lack thereof), the transiency and nature of the student population--all the actual facts--and judges the teacher on the basis of what he or she can actually control.

What UTLA has negotiated is the right to determine how the teaching profession will judge its own. Accountability to one's peers is the hallmark of a profession. It is the only kind of accountability that carries the sophistication needed to deal fairly and constructively with the quality of teaching practice.

DAY HIGUCHI, President

United Teachers Los Angeles

* When you write of unbalanced power, and accountability, this speaks volumes about the state of LAUSD today. The public may not be aware, but UTLA and its members literally run our schools.

A few examples of the union's power would include: Principals, assistant principals and the visiting psychologist no longer have assigned parking spaces. Because of their being mobile, these valuable people must park off-campus when such travel is required. Certain positions, such as magnet school coordinators at the elementary school level, are selected by the faculty, who are not in the position of knowing the full scope of the position. This also leads to favoritism, etc. We also see the blind leading the blind in the LEARN program, where the so-called site councils, etc. are in place. These councils are made up of local parents and school site teachers not fully qualified for selecting principals or assistant principals.

There needs to be a ballot measure so the public can throw UTLA out of the system.

WALLACE T. RUSSELL

Inglewood

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