SableGate: A Break in the Case

A correspondent who wants to remain anonymous emailed me today with the following bit of insight. A friend of a friend of a source relates that SableGate is a follow-on to the School District's extension of the teachers' contract earlier this Fall. It appears that the Superintendent was not only executing her job, but she was actively pursuing the interests of students and parents. In connection with the contract extension, she insisted on performance reviews and individual evaluations for teachers, leading to retention and termination based on these evaluations. The Board fundamentally disagreed; having made labor peace, the last thing it wanted was to stir up trouble by raising the issue of finding out whether individual teachers are any good. If this is true, then it's certainly possible that the School District risked losing a claim brought by the teachers' union on the ground that performance evaluations breached the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, and it's certainly possible that the loss would have cost the District more than $500,000. If this is true, then purely on financial grounds, the Board's action makes sense. But from the standpoint of the best interests of the parents and students in the School District, the Board bought labor peace at the likely expense of educational quality. It's no surprise to hear that teachers' union chief Mark McCloskey was hardly sad to see Margery Sable leave town. The idea of accountability for classroom performance may have left town with her.


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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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