PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Pittsburgh Public Schools have become ground zero in a national debate over evaluating teachers.

Talks between the Pittsburgh Teachers Union and the district have broken down.

And KD Investigator Andy Sheehan says money and resources from the national union appear to be pouring in, making a showdown over teacher evaluations.

“We think our work around making sure we have the most effective teachers in front of every child, every day is so crucial to the success of the district,” Pittsburgh Public School Superintendent Dr. Linda Lane said.

The district and the union had an agreement on the evaluations, but they broke down over implementation.

What the district calls performance ranges, the union calls cut scores — fall below and a teacher can be ordered to undergo training or even be dismissed.

“It would take a lot of good teachers out of the classroom,” said Nina Esposito-Visgitis with the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers. “It would unfairly target Pittsburgh teachers since it would be so much higher than across anywhere in the state.”

Now Pittsburgh has become the center in a national fight.

The AFT, the American Federation of Teachers, has taken a keen interest — funding union positions, developing strategy, penning this open letter to Dr. Lane saying:

“The future of Pittsburgh schools is a matter of great importance locally, statewide and nationally,” Going to say that the national is going “to stand with” the union “in this crucial fight.”

“AFT has been here from the beginning on this evaluation system. they sent in experts they have been a key player in this,” Esposito-Visgitis said.

But tactics are escalating — the AFT and the local have hit Lane herself with a flurry of right to know requests — her daily schedules and her correspondence — and Lane says the fight has become personal.

“I’m sorry it has sunk to this level,” she said. “This should be about the kids in Pittsburgh it should not be about me.”


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