In my region, some parents are seeking to force state officials to release the effectiveness-evaluation data the state has collected on school teachers. I don't suppose that's just happening around here; I feel sure that if it's happening here it's going on elsewhere in the country, too.
The parent featured here, one Brian Davison, contends that "parents have a right to know" how their kids' teachers are "performing," and that such information would be valuable and useful (presumably so that every "caring" parent could go to bat to switch his kids out of a class taught by a low-scoring teacher).
On the other hand, arguments against releasing these evaluations center on the fact that they may provide an incomplete picture of how well a teacher performs. Indeed, the state itself, after gathering this data, has chosen not to use it as a basis for its actual evaluation of teacher performance. The problems are obvious. And what does an assessment of student scores on various tests in different fields of knowledge really tell us about a teacher's performance?
Further, and even more obvious (though apparently not to Mr. Davison and his like-minded cohort), are factors involving the clay being molded, such as intelligence, home environment, and upbringing. A teacher may teach very well, but may have a group of kids who are less capable than others of learning.
Beyond these pedagogic factors, though, I find myself searching for the correct answer (regarding making teacher scores public) in the privacy implications. . An employer's evaluation of how an employee does a job is a matter between those two parties, and not a business that ought to be public knowledge. And such information should be equally as private for public sector employees as for the private sector.
We rely upon managers and supervisors, in either case, to deal with their employees, to assess their work, and to determine when it falls below acceptable standards - and to protect the privacy of the process. But if we should wish to make it even more difficult to recruit good teachers, by all means, let's make their personal performance evaluations public. And to be fair, let's also require publication of everybody's work evaluations, in all walks of life. Mr. Davison no doubt would be happy to offer up his.
Anything else is vigilantism. Loudoun County, Virginia, where this episode is playing out, was recently pegged in one survey as the nation's wealthiest. With wealth, however, does not necessarily go education or wisdom.