Calling for an end to the unfair distribution of teacher quality across New York City public schools, StudentsFirstNY organizers and hundreds of New York City public school parents came together today to demand action to address the disproportionate number of unsatisfactory-rated teachers in schools with the highest needs. Several parents addressed the crowd and shared their personal commitment to this effort.
Analysis of the New York City teacher-rating data reveals that New York City’s most vulnerable students have a disproportionate share of the city’s unsatisfactory-rated teachers. A study conducted by StudentsFirstNY analyzed 1,509 schools and revealed significant inequities: school populations with the highest rates of poverty, the lowest rates of student achievement and high concentrations of students of color had the most amount of teachers with unsatisfactory ratings. Conversely, wealthier, higher-achieving schools have fewer “U”-rated teachers. The findings are consistent among students of every age group and across every borough.
“Why should a child’s zip code determine whether or not he or she would have access to a quality education and a highly-rated teacher?” Said A.U. Hogan, a member of StudentsFirstNY’s Queen chapter. “As a New York City public school parent and grandparent, my children’s education is deeply personal. We must reform the school system and ensure all school children have the tools they need for success.
“This effort is vital for my grandchildren, and all school children in New York City, because students in high poverty schools are more than three times as likely to be taught by an unsatisfactory-rated teacher as students in low poverty schools,” said Bronx resident Sandra DeJesus, who was among the New York City public school parents to sign on to the complaint. “I shouldn’t have to change zip codes to have access to quality teachers, and hopefully this call to action will pave the way towards achieving that.” “The concentration of ineffective teachers among certain schools is beyond outrageous and represents a clear violation of students’ civil rights,” said StudentFirstNY Deputy Executive Director Glen Weiner. “We cannot allow this injustice to continue. We are hopeful that our efforts will lead to reforms ensuring all students, regardless of zip code, race or socioeconomic status, are afforded a quality education.”
Under the old teacher evaluation system, New York City public school teachers were subjectively rated either satisfactory or unsatisfactory and almost all teachers received a satisfactory rating, with fewer than 3% rated unsatisfactory. However, starting this school year, teachers will be rated using a state mandated rigorous system that includes a four-point scale based on multiple measures including student achievement, principal observations and eventually student feedback.
Implementing this more robust evaluation system was one of several proposed solutions recommended in the StudentsFirstNY report, which also included:
Require parental consent for a student to be taught by an ineffective teacher
Provide significant salary increases to highly effective teachers who stay in the classrooms of high-needs schools
Prohibit schools from assigning to the class of an ineffective teacher any student taught by an ineffective teacher in the previous year
Make it easier for top college graduates to enter teaching, and provide financial incentives for them to do so
Impose a cap on how many ineffective teachers may be allowed to remain at any one school year after year
Require annual reporting by the New York City Department of Education on the distribution of teacher quality across schools and student populations
“Parents deserve the right to be notified when their child is assigned to a teacher who’s been rated unsatisfactory two consecutive years or more,” said Ramona Wooden, a New York City school parent and member of StudentsFirstNY’s Harlem chapter. “Until every classroom has a highly qualified, effective teacher, we must standup and protest unjust learning conditions – exactly what we are doing here today.”