- The Washington Times - Monday, May 17, 2010

Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, is currently proposing an education funding bill that would force the Senate to ignore tenure when dismissing teachers due to budget cuts.

This would create a performance-based evaluation system that would weed out ineffective teachers who have tenure, giving newer teachers an equal chance to keep their jobs. Without a fair system of evaluation, however, the program may prove to be ineffective.

In addition to administrative oversight, another current method of determining teacher effectiveness is through student testing. Although it may be a good evaluation for administrators and schools, it is an inadequate way to judge effective teachers. Students are individuals. Even though there are 30 or more children in many public-school classes, some may be learning at a grade level or two lower. To evaluate these students equally is not a fair way to determine whether the teacher is having a positive impact on their education process.

I believe giving all teachers an opportunity to show the quality of their teaching skills is a good idea, but first we must devise a more accurate system to determine the difference between good teachers and great ones.

WAYNE LARSON



Arcadia, Calif.

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