Sunday, February 5, 2012

A halftime post . . .

It looks like the charter and evaluation bills in Olympia are encountering some difficulty in the form of the Senate and House education committee chairs. Senator McAuliffe and Representative Santos refused to give the bills a vote in their respective committees. Absent a vote they will not make it to the floor. The response in this Seattle Times piece is not positive.

"It is discouraging that two individuals could completely block the dialogue from happening," said Ramona Hattendorf, of the Washington state PTA. "The idea of having a good evaluation and discussing how it should be used is not radical."

The evaluation bill is intended to add accountability to the evaluation process by including the use of student achievement data. Even though we are in the second year of a revised evaluation process, new legislation was introduced this year because some lawmakers and others are concerned with the lack of focus in the process on test scores. The legislation would ensure that test scores would be included.

It's worth reviewing what's at stake. Stronger teacher evaluations are set to go statewide in 2013 but a key ingredient, student achievement, is missing from the policy critera. Teachers like the more-robust evaluations' inclusion of individualized development plans and training to help improve their craft.

But efforts to tie them to student growth measures — including test scores — have been rejected by the teachers union and the Democrats who do their bidding. That's too bad. The credibility of the new evaluations hinges on the ability to hold teachers accountable.

Interesting words when one considers that the intent of the original review was to support teacher growth. It would seem that growth is giving way to accountability, a trend that we have seen at the national level. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the course of the session. What I find most interesting is the lack of focus and information on how the legislators will close the budget gap. Same sex marriage, charters, evaluations and much more seem to be taking up their time. Could it be that the budget discussions are taking place behind closed doors and we will only learn about them as the session comes to a close leaving no time to lobby?

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

Mike, you're starting to get as cynical as me. :::smile::: I told a colleague the other day that "no doubt they are discussing budget deals behind the scenes, and rolling out these other measures in an attempt to show the public they are doing something".

The Seattle Times agenda is painfully obvious, and these unnamed 'editorial' pieces are repetitive and boring; 'reform' trumps all else, even common sense. Let's change the evaluation process and the formation of schools before we bother to fund them adequately.

I applaud Senator McAuliffe and Representative Santos. It's time to come up with real solutions to the problems we face. Instead of spending countless hours crafting unfunded 'reforms', let's get to work. I am not a democrat, as the article seems to infer all teachers are, but I know no legislation is better than bad legislation.

The real question the Seattle Times seems to be asking is "how far can the legislature let our schools slip before we can start blaming teachers?" I have yet to read any meaningful solution in the Times addressing the real problems educators are facing.

It may be about time we exert our 'accountability system' and organize a boycott of the Seattle times.