Should teacher performance be publicly disclosed?

I ran across this story on Slashdot not too long ago which stated:

“According to Newsweek, the local teachers union is infuriated over the disclosure of teacher performance metrics. Quoting: ‘Do parents have the right to know which of their kids’ teachers are the most and least effective? That’s the controversy roaring in California this week with the publication of an investigative series by the Los Angeles Times’s Jason Song and Jason Felch, who used seven years of math and English test data to publicly identify the best and the worst third- to fifth-grade teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District. The newspaper’s announcement of its plans to release data later this month on all 6,000 of the city’s elementary-school teachers has prompted the local teachers’ union to rally members to organize a boycott of the newspaper.’ According to the linked Times article, United Teachers Los Angeles president A.J. Duffy said the database was ‘an irresponsible, offensive intrusion into your professional life that will do nothing to improve student learning.'”

One comment in particular caught my eye:

“I get evaluated at my job, should i be outraged?”

Should you get outraged if your evaluation is printed in a major daily newspaper as an example? Without a reporter even as much as contacting you for a chance at filling in your side of the story?

Here is my response with a subsequent follow up:

A key difference for most of us is that we are not public employees and therefore our ultimate source of income is not the pockets of taxpayers. So yes, their evaluations should be published publicly, especially if voters are to be informed when they go to vote for politicians who support unions who harbor bad teachers.

Ultimately everyone is answerable to market forces. Public servants are answerable to their market which is taxpayers while private sector employees are ultimately answerable to their market, the consumers. Your output in either position lets your direct employers, the state or local municipality in the case of public workers, or the corporate chain of command in the private sector, decide whether or not you are helping or hurting them in their efforts to satisfy their intended markets.

A key difference here, though, is that private institutions respond to markets by either growing or shrinking in their income whereas public institutions enjoy a sort of monopolistic safety where the only thing they have to fear is a change in policy enacted by elected officials who are, in turn, selected by the market of voters.

Another corollary can be drawn here with SEC filings of publicly traded companies in order to keep potential traders well-informed (or at least that is the aim). People need to be able to make well-informed decisions, whether it be with their votes or with their dollars. And disclosures like these only serve to aid that effort.

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