CTU boss Karen Lewis
  • Andrew A. Nelles/Sun-Times Media
  • CTU boss Karen Lewis

I’ve never had a boss who didn’t have a pretty good idea how well I was doing my job. If schools were run along the lines of most workplaces, principals would reward their best teachers and get rid of the worst ones, and no one would question whether they should all be held accountable for the education of their students. Simple common sense said that of course they should.

“Union leaders don’t want teacher evaluations tied heavily to student academic growth . . . ” said the Tribune the other day in an editorial telling the striking Chicago Teachers Union that it’s on the wrong side of history. “Look around, Ms. Lewis. Nationwide, this fight is over. Reforms that hold teachers and principals accountable for student growth won. What used to be the status quo has lost.”

In education, common sense has somehow turned into education reform, and a strike is under way in Chicago to determine whether reform shall be implemented. But what is the reform movement predicated on? Science. Numbers. Testing.

Reform-minded educators have decreed that the progress of students will be measured by testing and retesting them. There are dangers in this, the chief one being that to facsimilate progress, students will be taught to the tests they will be measured by. But flawed data is better than no data at all. The reformers—many of whom send their children to private schools that reject this kind of incessant testing and skewed teaching—believe that in imposing their tests they are serving the public well.