Without reliable information, it comes down to trust. Which instructor a child gets is usually decided behind closed doors by principals and teachers, whose criteria vary widely.
"Mi niño, all his teachers are good," said Maura Merino, whose son Valentin Cruz was in the fifth-grade class of John Smith, the low-performing Broadous teacher, last school year. "He never had a problem. Everything is OK."
Merino said it's hard for her to tell the difference between teachers because she doesn't speak English. If she knew her son was assigned to a struggling teacher, "I wouldn't know what to do," she said, speaking in Spanish. "But I would try to get him to the best."
In a conversation after school one day, several Broadous teachers, including Aguilar and Smith, said parents should have the chance to see how teachers measure up.