Dispense with the Pretense to Listen

Now that the budget bill is about to be signed, we can dispense with the notion that the Governor was serious about soliciting advice from teachers.

"There are teachers in the state who are concerned about the criteria," Kasich said. "I want to make sure that teachers across the state know that if they want to participate in establishing this criteria, we want to invite them to be a part of this process.

"They can contact the governor's office. They can start there, and send an email. ... I look forward to it. And even if there are several hundred that want to participate, we'll sit them down and walk them through this."

That was just a short month ago. None of that input was shared with legislators. The Senate had sensibly removed teacher merit pay and evaluation provisions, but over a single weekend a heandful of legislators met behind closed doors to dream up their own rubric - based on what, no one seems to know or understand.

What they did come up with is byzantine and can be broken into 2 basic pieces.

Merit Pay

Merit pay will replace current salary schedules, but only for those schools that are participating in the Federal Race to the Top (RttT) program. Plunderbund smartly comments

To clarify, only the 479 school/districts that have received money through the federal Race to the Top program will be required to implement a merit pay program. For the other 441 schools/districts, it will remain business as usual.

We have been INUNDATED with information that claims that business as usual is THE problem with our schools and that merit pay is a key to fixing them (research refutes this), but in the final solution the Committee decides to go 50/50?

If merit pay is such an effective method of reform that the legislature included it in Ohio’s budget bill, mandating it for 479 schools/districts (negating any RttT work they have engaged in), then why not mandate it for everyone?

Furthermore, many have commented to us that RttT agreements might be violated by these measures, as RttT was designed to be developed in partnership with, and not forced up, teachers. It should also be noted that the General Assembly did not allocate any money for merit pay - something we observed recently.

Teacher Evaluations

We highlighted the teacher evaluation language in a previous post. Back are the requirements that 50% of evaluations be based upon high stakes testing. For the 70% of teachers where such data is not available, new testing regimes need to be designed, developed and implemented - at huge cost. This all needs to be done by the end of July 2013. The new provisions also call for costly twice a year in-class observations - something we calculated would cost millions of dollars and produce a huge administrative burden.

None of these provisions were needed, and had the Governor done as he said he would, and listened to teachers he would have realized that the Ohio Educator Standards Board (ESB) has developed a research based teacher evaluation model as part of the RttT grant. Districts and teachers have already been collaborating in developing evaluation and compensation system based on this ESB framework.

Now, in a rush to continue the assault on teachers and public education, that work is wasted and replaced with a bifurcated, unfunded mandate that is not based on any valid research.