Parents of students in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) went to court on July 23 to make the district release the individual records of teachers alongside their names. This information is kept within the district and is not revealed to the public, or even the teachers. The parent’s case was overturned by a three judge appellate court. The judges felt that keeping the information private served a greater public interest than releasing it because it could cause conflict among teachers.
The parents involved in the case felt that releasing the records would not be harmful, and it would help them understand what kind of teacher that their child was studying under. According to the LA Times, the judges said that parents wanting to place their children with the highest-performing teachers was of particular concern. The LAUSD and the union, United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) were against releasing the records.
“Releasing the names would lead to resentment and jealousy among teachers, spur unhealthy comparisons among staff, cause some instructors to leave the nation’s second-largest school system and interfere with teacher recruitment,” LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy said, according to the Los Angeles Times (LA Times).
A year ago, a case on the same issue arose between the LA Times and the district. Kelli Sager, an attorney for the LA Times, said that the district presented no evidence that harm would come to teachers, but the panel decided it was best not to release the records.
LA County Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant ruled that the public’s interest in the teachers’ records took priority over the California Public Records Act, which keeps teacher records private. The district relinquished up the records, but did not meet the condition that the records also contain the names of the teachers.
“It will make parents form assumptions on teachers without meeting them. I think it creates a tone of evaluation rather than one of collaboration. I don’t think it [releasing teacher records] is even close to happening in our district because we have a strong union.” English teacher Dorothy Burkhart said.
As stated by the LA Times, the district will not be releasing the individual teachers’ records, but instead will be using a mathematical formula named Academic Growth Over Time to judge the effectiveness of teachers. It takes into account such things as the race, poverty and previous test performances of students. The UTLA, however, is strongly opposed to the formula, arguing that the system is unreliable.
“Parents should be concerned about their child’s education. [The records] would allow parents to become more involved in their child’s learning, but it might not be good for parents to take action,” junior Tina Le said. “If I were a parent, I would want the best teacher for my child, but I wouldn’t go to extremes.”
The UTLA and the LAUSD will continue to fight against releasing the teachers’ records.