Expect more of this kind of shit. Thanks to a link at Harry Clarke's blog, I've just learnt of a web-site - operated out of the United States - that specialises in catering to students and parents who might feel the occasional urge to vent on their students. It's called "Rate My Teachers" and I'll be buggered if I'm going to link to it.
Harry notes the predictable opposition "of the dinosaurs in The Australian Education Union, such as Mary Bluett" to such on-line evaluations and an obvious flaw in the evaluation technique used on the site:
The comments ... are entirely unrepresentative - the 'squeaky wheels' are most likely to offer a view and indeed perhaps to repeat views by 'sock puppeting'.Nonetheless he retains "some sympathy for this flawed evaluation technique":
I know from experience that incompetent teachers do maintain teaching positions for long periods in both schools and universities despite various internal, private evaluation procedures.
When I try to extract the underlying logic of Harry's position, it looks something like this:
Reforms that retrain or replace incompetent teachers are overdue and would do away entirely with parents needing to rely on biased public websites to get information. (original emphasis)
Reforms to education are badly needed and anything that pushes progress on such reform is OK by me;Here's where Harry and I part company - the site's not OK by me. Actually we parted company on this point back in my first paragraph; I'm just making a mealy-mouthed attempt to butter him up so that he might be persuaded by what I have to say in the rest of the post.
This site will push progress on reforms to education ergo
This site is OK by me.
Reading the anonymous site operator's mission statement (on the site's About page) made it obvious that the problem of teacher incompetence is not exactly a new one - at least in Kern County, California, where any claims against the site must be filed. It's clear that whoever taught the author of the page English failed to impart a few essential writing skills, such as the basic art of paragraphing. The page opens with this disclaimer:
As the owners/operators of a website that allows the anonymous rating of teachers, we are frequently asked, "Why do you do this? Aren't you doing a disservice to teachers?" Our answer is a resounding NO...Now that's where the first paragraph ought to end, according to what I learnt in high school English but it rambles on:
In the public discourse on improving education, we believe the most important voices are often ignored. For the first time in the history of public schools, the student is being heard, and parents can share their experiences in an open forum...And on. You'll notice that the author isn't exactly a master of the art of making clear, succinct statements either - especially in the section of the page dealing with the site's purposes (the paragraph breaks in the next excerpt are mine):
RateMyTeachers started much like other new websites - by ordinary people with a vision for a better way of doing something. Thousands of student volunteers help keep the site going on a day by day basis.The first stated objective is just the sort of waffle you'd hear in a bullshit bingo session. That second is a doozy - the site is a place for students and parents to get their opinions validated? You can't see anything wrong with that - well neither did those parents with kids at Essex Heights Primary see anything wrong with setting up a web-site where they could all get together and validate their various low opinions of the new principal.
The purpose of the site is threefold. First, it is to help facilitate a positive change in the way parents, students, and teachers alike look at the education system and therefore to encourage structural changes with regards to school and teacher choice.
Secondly, it is a place for students and parents to have their opinions validated. We all like to be heard, especially when it comes to life issues such as education... (my emphasis)
And the site's third purpose? It's to help the teachers, of course:
Lastly, RateMyTeachers is a useful resource to the teachers who are open and self-assured enough to face the opinions of their customers, i.e. students and parents.And here's another failure in this wingnut's education: no-one ever told him what a mealy-mouthed little git he was. And so he remains today. The last paragraph of the "About" page has this helpful information for any teacher offended by what the site tells them about themselves:
Any disputes or claims must be filed in the State of California, County of Kern.Rate My Teachers Australia - like Rate My Teachers Canada, Rate My Teachers Great Britain, Rate My Teachers New Zealand and Rate My Teachers India - is a subsidiary domain of Rate My Teachers US, where you'll also find an interesting "Legal" page and an FAQ page. The "Legal" page begins:
IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING A LAW SUIT, YOU REALLY SHOULD READ THIS PAGE!That is, don't even bother filing any claims in the State of California, County of Kern - you won't win.
Our users are anonymous. The Supreme Court of the United States has held that anonymity of speech is protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution (see McIntyre v. Ohio, 514 U.S. at 337; Talley v. State of California, 362 U.S. 60). United States courts also recognize the right to speak anonymously - AND have held that the right extends to speech on the Internet. When courts have ordered disclosure of the name of an anonymous user, a litigant must show that its need for identifying information outweighs the user's constitutional right. RateMyTeachers.com recognizes this right to anonymity.
So, what's the site really about? Here's one clue - each page is chocka with advertising. Here's another - the domain has a named advertisement server. And here's another from the FAQ:
I know a business that I think would like to advertise on the site. Are you interested?And here's a FAQ that tells you just how serious the site operators are about those three lofty purposes they listed on the "About" page:
Of course!!! Contact us and we will discuss our rates for banner ads and sponsorship opportunities.
Who can rate? Is it limited to students?In plain simple English, Rate My Teachers is a scam - and a very sleazy one.
We prefer you only rate teachers of whom you have first-hand knowledge. It is not possible to verify that a rater had a particular teacher, so use caution in making decisions based on isolated ratings. Anyone can rate - students, the teacher, other teachers, parents, dogs, cats, etc.
Any disputes or claims arising out of this post must be filed in the Supreme Court of Victoria, in The Land Down Under.