Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Proven wrong . . .

I am completely surprised by what happened yesterday in the State Senate when SB 5246 requiring the use of state test results in teacher evaluation failed to pass.  I believed that the lobby supporting the bill would prevail because of the fear of loosing the federal NCLB waiver and control over $40 million in federal revenue across the state even suggesting it in last post.  I should have listened to Senator Mullet who told us on our Olympia trip that other provisions added to the bill would make it more difficult to pass.  It was also one of the few losses the majority coalition has experienced as explained in this Seattle Times article.

The proposal would require that statewide student tests be used as part of teacher and principal evaluations — a change federal officials said would be necessary for Washington to keep its waiver from some painful parts of the federal No Child Left Behind law.

It was unclear how the bill could be revived, because 5 p.m. Tuesday marked a deadline for non-budget-related legislation to make it out of at least one chamber of the Legislature. The teacher-evaluation bill was the last one the Senate considered before the cutoff.

“I thought we had it, but obviously we didn’t,” said state Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup, vice chair of the Senate Education Committee. “It’s very disappointing.”

Dammeier blamed the loss on Democrats who supported a nearly identical bill just weeks ago. He said the Democrats reversed course after receiving pressure from the state teachers union.

This is the second big surprise this session with the first being the restructuring and delay of the 1080 hour requirement in SB 6552 that passed the Senate and was moved to the House.  In both cases, many of us were told and felt that both the implementation of the 1080 hour requirement and the change in language to keep the federal waiver were a done deal.  For once, I feel good that I was wrong.

Why the change?  Enough legislators were influenced by the lobby effort from multiple organizations and switched their position because of the stories that were told of how these bills would have a negative impact on our work.

State Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, the ranking Democrat on the education committee, said she and others pulled their support after hearing testimony in committee.

“We heard from parents, teachers, school boards,” said McAuliffe, D-Bothell. “They said our state tests are not designed to measure student growth,” as the bill would require.

McAuliffe said Democrats “remain committed to finding the right solution” to keep the No Child Left Behind waiver.

I also believe that we are witnessing what is happening across the country where legislators from both parties and from the right and left are forming coalitions to push back against the common core and common core aligned assessments.  This coalition forming played out in the Senate vote on SB 5246.

Seven Republicans also sided with Democrats to sink the bill.

Senate Republican Leader Mark Schoesler, who supported the bill, said some of his colleagues voted against the bill because they did not like testing imposed by the federal government.

Time to thank those legislators for taking this stand and forcing the federal education department to make a decision.  Do they support the work being done in our state that Secretary Duncan has commended or do they impose the unrealistic expectations of NCLB and the penalties that go with those expectations?  Your turn Secretary Duncan.

1 comment:

Jen Dunham said...

I to am very surprised on what happened with both bills this session. I can only hope that we are seeing a turning point in education where the policy makers will actually listen to those involved in education, not just people with no experience with education.