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Baltimore City Teachers Protest Last-Minute Performance Evaluation Changes

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Baltimore City teachers protested outside city schools headquarters Monday. They are upset about changes made to the way they are evaluated, which is tied to their pay.

Rick Ritter has more on their demands.

Hundreds of teachers made it out to the rally Monday night. They say the move blindsided them, and that it restricts them from getting a raise and instead saves the district money.

"They can't do this to us," said Victoria Volk, special education teacher.

"They're demoralizing teachers," said Nick McDaniels, building representative.

Devastated and beside themselves, dozens of teachers sent a message that extended beyond their picket signs.

"You were more than blindsided. You were slapped in the face," said Marietta English, president of the Baltimore Teachers' Union.

The outrage stems from changes to the performance evaluation system, which is used to rate teachers highly effective, developing or ineffective.

The district says it recently raised the scores. For example, a teacher receiving a score of 80 was rated highly effective in the original system. Under the new system, that teacher must receive a score of 86.

"People aren't getting paid their pay raise because our evaluations are now tied to pay. That's really serious," Volk said.

Teachers say they weren't informed of the new scoring system until June 2, when many started to receive their year-end evaluations.

"It was sprung on us at the last-minute," McDaniels said.

Many teachers say the number of highly effective ratings was limited. They feel it's an effort to save the district money.

"There is no doubt in my mind the district is trying to save money," McDaniels said. "We've gotta fight this until it's resolved."

Baltimore City Schools fired back, releasing a statement.

"The union is asking that we lower our standards to a point of which 97 percent of our teachers would be rated highly effective or effective, making the evaluation system essentially meaningless," said Tisha Edwards, interim chief executive officer of Baltimore City Public Schools, in a statement. "Lowering the standards by which teachers are evaluated would be a grave disservice to our best classroom teachers and our children and send the wrong message to the families and communities who support our schools."

The Baltimore Teachers' Union filed a class act grievance saying it did not agree to the new scores.

District officials say the last-minute changes were a result of legislation that was not signed until May.

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