To the Editor:
David McGrath’s account of his 20-year teaching career in a Chicago high school makes a sharp distinction between the behavior of students in and outside the classroom (“Respecting Teachers,” Commentary, Nov. 28, 2007). He was fortunate in this regard. In too many schools, the bell marking the beginning of instruction does not necessarily mean the beginning of learning. That’s because a lack of respect and decorum tends to be ubiquitous.
But try telling that to the members of the Teacher Performance Unit, which was recently established for New York City’s public schools to identify incompetent teachers. It is composed of five lawyers, headed by a former prosecutor, with no experience or expertise in instruction. The creation of a panel devoid of practicing teachers certified in the same field as the teacher under review makes a mockery of accountability. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein need to make Mr. McGrath’s essay mandatory reading for their brainchild.
Los Angeles, Calif.