Did Rigoberto Ruelas, Missing Educator Found Dead, Commit Suicide Over L.A. Times' Controversial Teacher Ratings? Union Tells Times To Take Down The Evaluations

See Jill Stewart's post about how teacher's union chief A.J. Duffy should resign. Also see our post about how media speculation over the teacher's death is based on thin evidence.

TV news reports over the weekend painted Rigoberto Ruelas as a dedicated elementary school teacher whose students celebrated his impact even after they had moved up the public-school ladder.

The 39-year-old hiker from South Gate went missing last week after he phoned in for a substitute to take over his duties at Miramonte Elementary School Monday and Tuesday. Now television reports indicate he might have been distraught over his lackluster showing at the Los Angeles Times' controversial teacher ratings site.

Ruelas was found dead in the Angeles National Forest Sunday morning, and his Toyota SUV was nearby, according to reports. It appeared he might have jumped off a bridge that spanned a 100-foot-deep ravine.

The Times database had Ruelas as "Less effective than average overall," "Less effective than average in math," and "Average in English."

Ruelas taught for 13 years and, according to family members, had perfect attendance in recent years.

The Times ratings drew the ire of the L.A. teachers' union, which protested outside the paper's headquarters.

On Sunday, the union, United Teachers Los Angeles, issued a statement demanding that the paper "take the so-called 'teacher effectiveness' scores off their website and cease and desist from publishing any further scores for individual teachers now or in the future.''

Media critics have weighed in on both sides, with Slate's Jack Shafer supporting the paper's decision to air the dirty laundry, and LA Observed's Bill Boyarsky, a former top news editor at the paper, stating that the paper should have better explained the "value-added" system of analyzing teacher performance, which is prone to at least some amount of error.

Interestingly, the Times' own story on Ruelas' death doesn't mention that he might have been distraught as a result of his showing in the paper's database.


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