Sunday, February 06, 2011

In the Year 5399....If Kids Are Doing Fine....and the LEV is Over the Line.....You May Find.....

The first big education kerfuffle of the legislative session is regarding SB5399, proposed by Senator Rodney Tom, which would mandate that those teachers with the lowest evaluations were the first laid off, and order that the principal must agree before any teacher can be transferred into the building. You can read most of the obvious objections to the bill in this comment thread over at Publicola, but there are a couple of other pieces of media that deserve to be highlighted too:

On The Conversation on KUOW last week they had a segment with Mike Ragan, Vice President of the WEA, and Shannon Campion of Stand for Children, an advocacy group that has poured tens of thousands of dollars into supporting senators like Tom who will bring forward their bills. The money quote from Campion comes at the 15 minute mark, after a comment about how the bill will get in the way of teacher collaboration.
Shannon Campion: "Teachers won't get ranked in the school. The evaluation....that's not really connected to what this bill is all about. There's no public ranking or listing of teachers."
Shannon apparently didn't read the bill her group wrote, because that's exactly the entire purpose of what they're trying to do here: rank the teachers, and get rid of the ones on the bottom when the whim strikes. There's a math formula embedded within the bill that averages evaluations and comes up with a number for each teacher, fer chrissakes. To pretend that this isn't a ranking system is intellectually dishonest.

Then there's Chris Korsmo of the League of "Education" Voters:
Publicola covered the opposition to the bill which seemed a little ill-informed. The opposition, that is – ill informed. The bill includes a “mutual agreement” provision requiring the school principal and teacher to agree on the teacher’s placement. This legislation would be a great next step in the work to change the way we assess and value our teachers.
No comments on why the opposition is ill-informed, no sign of her participating in the debate over at Publicola, and no rebuttal of the very real objections that have been raised. Way to raise the debate, Chris.

My belief, on which I will not yield, is that RIF should be about economics and non-renewal should be about performance, and never the two should meet. Building a system where a principal has every incentive to give higher-paid employees worse evaluations so that they can put more money into their own budgets isn't in anyone's interest, but that's what this bill does. Elevating the principal above the contract, the superintendent, and the school board might make sense to some (hi, Liv), but to everyone else that's lunacy.

This is a bad bill. It won't make things better. It should go no farther.

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