Friday, June 22, 2012

My letter to Bloomberg re parents' right to know performance evaluations of top Tweed officials

The Legislature passed the Governor’s bill on disclosure of teacher evaluations yesterday.  No matter that the evaluations, based primarily on test scores, are unfair, unreliable, erratic and have up to a 85 point error rate.   
No matter that the legislation will allow parents to call or email to find out the rating of their child’s teacher.  No matter that the ratings of all teachers at public schools will be published, by school, grade and subject, making it all-too-easy for parents to gossip and trade information about which teacher got which (totally unreliable) score.   
 No matter that for some reason, in our electeds’ continuing , and unaccountable deference to charter schools, they will remain free of any damaging and morale-busting disclosures.  
Still Bloomberg went ballistic because not every teacher’s name will be published in the newspaper, and says he will have every school call every single parent with children in grades 4-8 and offer them this information, because parents have a “right to know.”  UPDATE and correction:  According to this piece in GothamSchools, Bloomberg said that all parents will be called -- up to a million -- to offer them this information. The ratings will also posted on each child's ARIS page-- which may be in violation of the intent of the law, since parents are encouraged to log into ARIS for lots of other reasons.
Hah!  Bloomberg has no respect for parent rights.  When we protest school co-locations or closings, he says we“don’t understand the value of a good education.”  When wepush for more schools to be built to alleviate overcrowding, he says we have no right to be involved in this issue either.  
And the parent’s right to know?  I have submitted FOILs (Freedom of Information Law requests) for information that I have been waiting three years for, without a substantive response.  And this is far from unusual.  The DOE and other city agencies constantly flout the law and stonewall when it comes to the public’s right to know.
In February, I asked for the performance evaluations of the Chancellor’s Leadership team, and I am still waiting.  So today I thought I would email Bloomberg and Walcott.  I have also put a clock on my website in order to mark the time I have waited for these performance evaluations, which by law, are the right of every citizen to obtain.

From: Leonie Haimson []
Sent: Friday, June 22, 2012 7:49 PM
Subject: FOIL request ignored for performance evaluations of top DOE officials
Dear Mayor Bloomberg:
I have heard that you invoke a parent’s right to know when it comes to the teacher evaluation reports, so much so that you are willing to have school employees spend hours and hours of their precious time, calling up parents personally to ask them if they want the information.  Yet more than four months ago, on February 28, I submitted a FOIL request to the Department of Education for the performance evaluations of the top officials at Tweed.  So far, I have gotten nothing but letters of delay in response.  Here the latest response from DOE:
 If parents have a right to see the ratings of their children’s teachers, which according to most experts are statistically unreliable, don’t they also have the right to see the evaluations of top employees at Tweed who are making six-figure salaries?  Or are teachers the only ones who, in your view, should be subject to potentially demoralizing disclosures?

Leonie Haimson
Class Size Matters
Filer of FOIL #F8144
See below.
From: Leonie Haimson <>
To: FOIL <>
Cc: leonie <>
Sent: Tue, Feb 28, 2012 9:34 pm
Subject: FOIL request
February 28, 2012
Records Access Officer
NYC Department of Education
52 Chambers Street, Room 308
New York, NY 10007

Dear Records Access Officer:

Under the provisions of the New York Freedom of Information Law, Article 6 of the Public Officers Law, I hereby request a copy of the following records or portions thereof:
The final performance evaluations of all of the members of the Chancellor’s leadership team for 2009, 2010 and 2011, in the NYC Department of Education, including but not limited to every Deputy Chancellor, as well as the performance evaluation of t he Chancellor himself.
According to Robert Freeman of the NYS Open Govt. Committee, the performance evaluations of all public employees in NY State are available to the public through FOILs, except for police and correction officers and firefighters.
These requested records are not exempt from disclosure under FOIL. To the extent that information contained in the requested records is protected please redact such information and provide us with the remaining information. In the event that all or part of this request is denied, please cite each specific applicable FOIL exemption and notify us of appeal procedures available under the law. 

To the extent that these records are readily available in an electronic format, we request that they be provided in that format. Please provide responsive records as they are ident ified, rather than waiting to gather all records.

I request to be notified of any fees associated with this request of over $100.00.

The Freedom of Information Law requires agencies to respond within five (5) business days of a records request.   Please contact me by phone at the below number or by email at  with any questions. Thank you in advance for your timely consideration of this request.

Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters


ksprowal said...

Thank you Leonie! When I saw the news headlines this morning "Teachers Win" I thought to myself are there any teachers out there that really believe this crap? I dont know, maybe he thinks his continued attacks and demonzation of teachers will keep us from asking the real questions that need to be answered. Everything about the teachers evaluations, disclosures is so insulting to me as public school parent! Mr. Mayor when are you going to be acountable to parents? We want full disclosure and access to evaluations for tweed six figured salary public employees, the chancellor and his team?

My Child is NOT a Test Score said...

This Mayor continues to offend parents and misuse his position to implement horrible policies and conditions for our teachers, principals and parent coordinators. Much like the misuse of "his" police force, he sees it fit to use the funds and energy of these public employees (or servants??) in anyway that serves his misguided rule of the land. As Leonie points out, he disregards every real input and demand of parents when it comes to school policies, testing, charter school co-locations, budget cuts, teacher lay offs, etc., but then insists he knows what parents want in regard to TDRs. I guess when you run the DoE from way up in a castle, it's hard to see what is real on the ground. Why not put the time and money toward real learning and real teaching rather than use the unfit TDRs as a way to scape goat teachers, who are not the reason for a failed education system. Yes, let's see the Tweed performance evaluations and make headline news with these!

edith said...

Leonie, Thank you!

When was the last time Bloomberg even set foot in a public school?

Mayoral control of schools has drowned out the parents' voices. Citywide and Community Education Councils used to have a say in decisions about schools, and that was taken away when Bloomberg and his Panel of Education Policy took over. We must write to our Public Advocate, Borough Presidents, and other elected officials that we don't want our principals' time wasted on these phone calls. We must press the issue of mayoral control at the June 25 rally against growing fees charter schools receive.

Once again the mayor disregards parent concerns. How much will automated phone calls cost? Or will administrators have to spend their precious time doing this? How much will it cost the DOE to "publish" this data? The release of NYC teacher data in February showed that there was a huge margin of error in the teacher data: 35-53 points in either direction. The data is essentially meaningless.
This is the data that showed that a teacher at a top citywide gifted school was ranked the worst 8th grade math teacher in NYC, even though her students passed Math Regents exams for 10th graders. This is not reliable data. Mayoral control is out of control!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for showing us all the extreme hypocrisy emanating from the Bloomberg administration, especially when it comes to a parent's right to know.

What a shameful display of arrogance and power.

Anonymous said...

Leonie: Thank you for all that you do on behalf of NYC families.

TeachmyclassMrMayor said...

I assume, none of us should hold our breath waiting for the information to be released, should we?

Anonymous said...

Thanks Leonie for writing this letter. Can we now write another to say please do not waste the time and money to "inform" me about the unreliable teacher evaluations. Also, please do not post teachers' flawed scores on Aris which is reserved for information about my children only!

Unknown said...

I posted this in response to the article: I don't know about Bloomberg, but as a parent, I don't need a teacher evaluation report to find anything out about the quality of my child's teacher. I speak to his teachers on a consistent basis, even on certain of items on standardized tests, to discuss areas of strength and needs. There is nothing, absolutely nothing a data report, based on test scores, that are most likely unreliable, could tell me that I don't already know about his teacher. Through conversations and reports, I know that he is very creative, develops stories with illustrations with incredible detail, loves to read nonfiction texts and prefers to exhibit his learning through process dramas. I also know that he struggles with computing double digit numbers, a result of having several strategies he wants to try at once. I wouldn't have known that the way I was showing him how to add, subtract, multiply and divide were confusing him; however, he gained confidence once I was on the same page- a result of ongoing communication with his teacher. He did not perform well on his math assessment, I am almost certain, but I know that he has made gains this year that are huge. I can speak for many parents of children in public schools in this city, our schools are centers of our community. We do not view teachers as distant and cold fillers of vessels. They ignite curiosity, provide tools and strategies for learning, provide social emotional support when our children get frustrated. NO DATA REPORT CAN SUPPLY THIS KIND OF INFORMATION about an individual. Bloomberg can continue to reveal his ludicrous assumptions about our public schools and the families who attend them. We know our schools well, and it is quite clear that he has absolutely no clue.