Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Making a commitment and reconsidering . . .

I would like to be posting about tonight's PSE Appreciation Dinner, but I'll wait until tomorrow when Kevin will get me some pictures for the post.  Instead, I'll share a decision I made and how two subsequent conversations resulted in wondering and revisiting the decision.

In this post from last week, I shared how competing commitments emerged in a meeting of superintendents and association presidents related to crafting a letter to legislators opposing changes to teacher evaluation to assure continuation of the NCLB waiver.  John Schuster, Tahoma President, asked if I would consider sending a letter from our system since consensus was not possible in the larger group.  It took a few days, but I made the commitment to take a position based on what is best for our system and not what would best benefit all school systems across the state.

Today, we sent this letter to all of our legislative representatives.  Though I understand that loss of the waiver will create issues for school systems across the state, I believe this was the right thing to do.  It will not resonate with most of my colleagues or the professional organizations that represent us, but this is a time to operate from belief not politics.

Later in the afternoon I received a phone call from Senator Mullet wanting to discuss the letter.  He was concerned and wanted to better understand our position.  He also shared some information that opened the door to consider a different context for the change.  Later, at the PSE Dinner, I had an opportunity for a brief conversation with Superintendent Dorn where he shared similar information and more detail that I didn't have that made me wonder.  It also made me wonder if I had done adequate research before commiting to the letter.

Based on these two conversations with men I respect I feel compelled to follow-up today's letter with a second rescinding my request for a no vote on House Bill 2800 while affirming my opposition to Senate Bill 5880.   I'm led to believe that this will result in an implementation delay until the 2017 school year and the locus of control for how we use state or other achievement data will continue to be determined in local bargaining.  Given this, it makes sense for me to reconsider and not add to the anxiety and stress created by the threat of waiver loss from Secretary Duncan.

I also had the chance for a brief conversation with John at the dinner and shared some of my thinking.  I'm not changing my belief that the best decision is no change to the existing law for all the reasons in the letter, but given the assurance of local control in the House Bill, I believe that we can maintain the positive impacts of TPEP without the burden of potentially negative change in how student growth is measured.

If you are looking for a short description of the struggle over this proposed legislative change I would recommend this short article in the  Bellingham Herald

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