To: Phil Mendolson, Chairman, Yvette Alexander, Councilmember, Charles Allen, Councilmember, Anita Bonds, Councilmember, Mary M. Cheh, Councilmember, Jack Evans, Councilmember, David Grosso, Councilmember, LaRuby May, Councilmember, Kenyan M...

Vote NO on the "Educator Evaluation Data Protection" Provision

American Federation of Teachers

On June 16th, D.C. City Council will be asked to take a final vote on the mayor's Budget Support Act. Embedded in this legislation is a provision titled "Educator Evaluation Data Protection" that would amend the D.C. Freedom of Information Act to reclassify all teacher evaluations, ratings, observations and data collected during the evaluation process, and totally remove that information from public view.

Please vote NO and reject this unnecessary expansion of government secrecy!

Why is this important?

What are the District of Columbia Public Schools and some in the city government trying to hide?
On Tuesday, the Washington, D.C., City Council will vote on a stunning new rule that would make it impossible for educators, parents and the general public to judge whether some of DCPS core instructional strategies and policies are really helping District children succeed.
Here’s the background: Over a year ago, the Washington Teachers’ Union filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to see the data from the school district’s IMPACT evaluation system—a system that’s used for big choices, like the firing of 563 teachers in just the past four years, curriculum decisions, school closures and more. The FOIA request was filed because DCPS refused to provide the data.
The data is essential for the union to be able to represent our members and serve our students. It’s essential to understanding and addressing the DCPS policies and practices that impact our members’ daily work. We requested the data with all personal information removed to protect teachers’ privacy.

Now, the district not only has rejected our request, it is also trying to override the FOIA laws through a radical new secrecy provision to hide the information that’s being used to make big decisions that impact our kids, our teachers and our schools.
And to top it all off, the language in the law is so poorly written, no one’s even sure what it says. The mayor’s office claims it would only apply to certain schools, but open-government advocates say that—as written—it would apply to all schools. This confusion alone is enough reason to reject this bad idea.
Without access to this data, there’s no way for the public or our union to tell whether the strategies DCPS uses—like mayoral control—are helping students or simply creating school closures and high teacher turnover. And just last week, the National Academy of Sciences released a report that raises a lot of questions about whether those strategies have really moved the needle of student achievement.
Transparency shines a light on whether the District’s policies are helping kids, supporting teachers and improving schools. Hiding this data takes us in the wrong direction.