Saturday, October 13, 2007

Peer Assistance and Review (PAR)

This weekend I am in Silver Spring, Maryland for a 3 1/2 day workshop on peer assistance and review (PAR). I am very interested in PAR for a few reasons. First, I want teachers to be able to control the quality of our profession. Our union has organized teachers to address the quality of our wages, benefits, and working conditions but historically we have let our adversaries, or those politicians who know nothing about education, control the quality of our profession. I have been president for a very short time, but twice in that time probationary teachers have been let go despite being advocated for by a number of tenured teachers or experienced EAs who actually KNEW THEIR WORK as opposed to an administrator's 10 minute classroom visit and/or hearsay from another district. We are the group who should be the gatekeepers to the quality of our profession because we have dedicated ourselves to our profession. We do the work of teaching the students of St. Paul Schools everyday and we are responsible to build on the work of our colleagues. I can't wait to explore PAR with the building stewards, members, and Executive Board of SPFT, to determine how we can use this idea to ensure the quality and reputation of our profession.

We already have the language in the back of our contract that says we will develop PAR, now it is just up to us to do this in a way that supports and enhances a new teacher's achievement of tenure within some very clear standards that measure effective teaching. The more obvious we make it known that we have standards for quality in our teaching ranks, the more obvious it will be to everyone in St. Paul and Minnesota that St. Paul Public Schools and the St. Paul Federation of Teachers are both serious about working together to ensure a world-class education for every child.

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