Same song, second verse.
In February, the Gates funded organization the League of Education Voters and yes, the Gates funded PTA, were pushing for the approval of two bills that proposed to determine teacher layoff’s by student performance, test scores, and to permanently fire teachers if there was a school closing. You can read the post Legislative Update and Action that I wrote regarding those two bills.
Fortunately, because of a quick response by many after reading that post and the action of others, the bill didn’t make it into hearings. But, as they say about the legislative period in Olympia, it ain’t over ‘til it’s over. The same folks are back with another bill but this time with a fancy title that makes it sound so wonderful. How could anyone not like a bill that is titled the “Excellent Teachers for Every Student Act”? Really.
Here’s the skinny on this high sounding bill.
Reductions in Force (RIF): The bill states that during a RIF, when there is not enough money to pay for teachers and teachers have to be laid off, that the teachers with the lowest evaluations, meaning lowest student test scores, should not have their contracts renewed. Talk about high stakes testing! Even President Obama has a problem with this idea although his Secretary of Education doesn’t and has been pushing this with his Race to the Top agenda.
Then under the heading of “Removal of Teachers Detrimental to Student Academic Performance”, the authors of this bill mention a study that is being undertaken, thanks to the ed reform bill that was pushed through by the Seattle and Washington PTA and the League of Education Voters (LEV) with a lot of assistance from Representative Reuven Carlyle last year, to determine if teaching experience has anything to do with a teacher’s performance. This is the argument that Gates and folks like Teach for America (TFA) founder and CEO Wendy Kopp have been making about bringing in inexperienced and untrained teachers and placing then in our lowest performing schools. Good for folks wanting to make a profit on charter schools by hiring inexperienced therefore inexpensive personnel, not good for students.
I can’t believe that during such a horrific financial downturn even our PTA pushed to have us pay for this study. I don’t know about you, but I would choose a dentist, surgeon, architect or basically any professional with more experience than someone straight out of school and with no experience or even training in the field to work with me. Go figure.
It would also be interesting to find out who this “working group” is that has been tasked to come up with a conclusion on the value of experience in a classroom and how much this cost, a study that will take two years to complete.
The bill goes on to propose merit pay, linking student test scores to a yearly bonus. Apparently our state legislators as well as the PTA have not been keeping up on their reading because in the states where this has been instituted it has only produced cheating, not by students but by administrators, and no gain by the students. The focus remains on the test score and nothing more.
So much for politicians making policy regarding education. Or even the PTA for that matter as long as Gates is pulling their strings.
And to top this off, it is proposed that a teacher not be compensated more for having or pursuing a Masters’ degree. I still can’t figure out the logic of this one. Education is important and yet it isn’t? How does that work? It goes back to what is put forth by folks who want to profit on the limited resources of public education, that inexperienced and under trained recruits are as good as, if not better than, those who have devoted years of education, training and their own resources into pursuing what they consider a profession. Well, if not as good as, at least cheaper than qualified and certificated teachers.
One phone call or e-mail to our representatives would make it clear that this bill is not what we want for our students. Our legislative representatives want to hear from us. That was made clear to me when I had the opportunity to meet with many of them in February. They hear from lobbyists and big-money interests all of the time and they know their game but they have said to me that if they hear from the voters, the rest of us, that is enough for them to take a stand. We did it in February and we can do it again now.
Below is a list of representatives to contact. In addition to this list, if your representative is not listed just Google them and their contact information will come up. If you don’t know who your rep is, go to the State of Washington website where the information can be found. If you have all of legislator’s contact information at your fingertips, even better. The more of our reps who understand the ramifications of this proposal, the better off our students will be.
Senator Rosemary McAuliffe, Chair of the Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee
(360) 786-7600 firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Lisa Brown (360) 786-7604 email@example.com
Senator Maralyn Chase (360) 786-7662 firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Nick Harper (360)786-7674 email@example.com
Senator Bob Hasegawa (360) 786-7862 firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Adam Kline (360) 787-7688 email@example.com
Senator Sharon Nelson (360) 787-7667 firstname.lastname@example.org