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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

May 22, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Effective teachers

Proposal without solid criteria is ineffective itself

Andrew Kwatinetz has joined the chorus calling for teachers to be retained during layoffs based on something he calls effectiveness [“Teacher retention should be based on effectiveness, not seniority,” Opinion, guest column, May 20]. However, nowhere in his column is there a hint of how he would measure that.

When either professionals or laymen propose new ways of dealing with difficult situations, they owe everyone the intellectual honesty to offer some practical suggestion on implementation. Everyone is in favor of effective teachers, most especially teachers. The question is how to measure effectiveness in a way that is equitable, feasible and cost-effective.

If The Times or Kwatinetz were to suggest interstellar travel as a solution to overpopulation, we would expect some information of how to achieve it, but nowhere do we find even an outline of the plan to measure effectiveness. Until we see that plan, it is just pie in the sky — it’s pretty and looks sweet, but is ultimately without body or flavor.

— Robert DuChaine, Buckley

Stalemate between district and union blocks change

Andrew Kwatinetz nails the biggest problem in Seattle Public Schools with his argument that teacher retention should be based on effectiveness, not seniority. Unfortunately, it won’t happen without legislative intervention.

For more than 30 years, citizen pressure has failed to change key seniority provisions in the teachers’ contract. There’s no reason to believe parental demands — even expressed by a leader as articulate as Kwatinetz — will make any difference in the current round of negotiations.

The Seattle school district administration and the Seattle Education Association both claim to care about educational excellence above all, but are locked in an adversarial relationship whose common goal in contract talks is labor peace.

The solution: Diminish the power of both organizations. The means: charter schools.

— Phillip Johnson, Seattle

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