Bloomberg on public teacher evaluations: Parents have the right to know, and anyway you asked for it

Michael Bloomberg. (Azi Paybarah, via flickr)
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Asked today about a proposal by New York State Board of Regents chancellor Merryl Tisch to change state law to prevent the public release of teacher evaluations in the future, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, "I would be opposed to any law that tried to restrict parents' right to know."

The mayor made his comments today at a press conference at Coney Island's MCU Park at which he touted the city's job-placement efforts.

In response to a question about whether the controversial release of teacher-evaluation data served a useful public purpose, the mayor said, "The arrogance of some people to say that the parents don't have the ability to look at numbers and put them in context and to make decisions is just astounding to me. Parents have a right to know every bit of information that we can possibly collect about the teacher that's in front of their kids. This is about our kids' lives. This is not about anything else.

"And no evaluation system is every gonna be perfect. Every elected official stands up and says 'we want an evaluation system.' Well, this is one that was created. It's very thoughtful ... This was the court decision at the request of your newspaper and other newspapers that forced these numbers to be out in the public domain, but I'm not so sure that that's bad ... This is not like police and fire. You think about it. Police and fire, we assign a cop or a firefighter to a station, to a post, to a firehouse, to a piece of equipment. And all of the firefighers and all of the cops are changed. Not only are they interchangable, we deliberately move them around, because that helps their careers and they learn more things and they're better able to perform their jobs ...

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"Education is different. A teacher is in front of that child for the whole year ... You get evaluated every day. They look at what you write and they look at whether people read it ... I get evaluated every day. God knows you guys all write and talk about the job the mayor is doing every single day.

"There's nothing wrong with an evaluation system. And the arrogance that says, 'Oh, they'll never understand the numbers.' That may very well be. I hope not. But nevertheless, this data belongs to the public, and it certainly belongs to the parents of the kids who have been given to us to change their lives and give them an opportunity that, if they don't get it now, they're never gonna have for the rest of their lives."