Bloomberg and the Subjective Evaluation of Teachers

As he plans to lay off thousands of public school teachers, Mayor Bloomberg says he wants officials to decide which educators to keep and which to get rid of based on a new, “merit-based” evaluation system, not, as the current law mandates, based on seniority.

But in an interview this weekend, Bloomberg described the new evaluation system as akin to what workers in the private sector face, which the mayor described as “subjective.”

The Interview:

HOST: How do you avoid putting politics into assessing whether or not a teacher should stay based on merit?

BLOOMBERG: How do you decide that as KISS-FM?

HOST: Ummm.

BLOOMBERG: Isn’t it true whoever runs KISS-FM decides whether or not you keep your job or not?

HOST: It’s based on talent.

HOST2: That’s a little different.

BLOOMBERG: Well, that’s exactly the measure we should use. But there are abuses, there’s always abuses, but the private sector —

HOST: But it’s very subjective Mr. Mayor.

BLOOMBERG: There’s no argument about that. The private sector, the people that pay the taxes, all live in a world where they are judged subjectively and their boss, if their boss is bad and stupid, they can get hurt. But if you say ‘well, nobody is going to get hurt in government,’ then you don’t get the best and the brightest. Then it’s a question – nothing’s perfect – but I think everybody, 85 percent of the public agrees when you do these polls, we should have subjective measures to try to decide who are the best teachers.

Remember, a lot of these people, including some of the unions, complain when you have just a test, and you say ‘oh, you can’t just use the numbers’ you have to use subjective ways to evaluate teachers,’ I couldn’t agree more. That’s exactly the whole thing here.


Bloomberg and the Subjective Evaluation of Teachers