I have urged my legislators to vote NO on HB 1443. It has become an unwieldy Frankensausage of a bill, larded with controversial and discredited corporate ed reform practices, many of which usurp local authority and labor union rights and do harm to teaching and learning. It would not make good law.
HB 1443 contains language that reinforces the controversial and flawed practice of tying teacher evaluations to standardized student test scores. It potentially enables school closures, weakens teachers unions, enables less qualified teachers to get teaching positions, and revisits teacher and principal evaluations even though these matters have already been or should be determined by local contracts with these unions. And it opens the door to punitive — and discredited — federal interventions in our schools.
As a parent, I oppose this bill.
As a parent, I do not support the state government stepping into my child’s classroom and making edicts about how the teachers in our district should be treated.
Here in Seattle, we have negotiated our teachers’ contract and our principals’ contract. It is inappropriate and undemocratic for the state to step in and push to “revise” what has already been established locally.
I also oppose the conflating of the policy of seniority and the responsibility of school principals to assess and maintain a strong teaching staff in her/his school at all times.
Bills like HB 1443 conflate two separate issues — addressing weak teachers, and budget-induced layoffs, falsely linking budget cuts with the issue of weak teachers.
If there are weak teachers in a school, a principal should not wait around for a budgetary crisis as an excuse to address the issue. This bill and the ed reform argument that goes with it is effectively a bad faith argument that fails to hold principals accountable for maintaining a strong teaching staff at all times.
“Last in, first out” is not some strange voodoo invented by the teachers union, but a common practice even in the business world. In times of budgetary cutbacks, it is common for companies to lay off the most recent hires, keeping the most experienced workers on staff. It’s common sense.
Corporate ed reformers and anti-union politicians from Wisconsin to Michigan to Florida and now, it appears, Washington, are using the issue of weak teachers — which is a statistically minor occurrence, by the way — to weaken the teachers’ unions and strip teachers of any protections or rights. It is no secret that more experienced teachers are largely targeted by these ed reformers because they cost more and are more likely to speak up for themselves and their students.
Section 401 is especially troubling. It takes aim at teacher seniority and is based on linking teacher evaluations to standardized student test scores. That amounts to high-stakes testing and it is harmful to students and teachers alike. This is a deeply flawed method which is highly controversial, but a current favorite fad of ed reformers, most of whom have zero expertise in education.
We should not make laws based on fads.
The issue of weak teachers has been overstated by the ed reformers. Our schools are not teeming with bad teachers, yet with all the teacher bashing going on in the national ed reform dialogue, you would think there was a veritable plague of bad teachers.
According to Stephen Fink, the executive director of the University of Washington’s Center for Educational Leadership, very few teachers are actually “ineffective.” From a Feb. 10 Seattle Times article about a program by the University of Washington’s Center for Educational Leadership, “Classroom tours aim to find great teaching,” by Linda Shaw:
“As they talk, the school leaders refer to two dense pages from Fink and his associates — a summary of years of research into what constitutes high-quality teaching.
Too much of the conversation about improving schools, Fink says later, centers on how to get rid of ineffective teachers or reward great ones. The reality, he says, is that few teachers are truly ineffective — or completely effective. The vast majority, he says, are working hard to the best of their ability.
The more important challenge, in his view, is to help the vast majority of teachers get better.”
There already are policies in place to address weak teachers and it is the principals’ duty to follow this process. It strikes me that principals are being let off the hook in the national discussion about “teacher quality.”
It’s also highly ironic that the same people who (falsely) claim we have so many bad teachers are also supporting the de-professionalizing of the teaching profession by supporting “alternative pathways” to teacher credentialing and the hiring of short-term fresh college grads like Teach for America, Inc. recruits, who have only 5 weeks of training, no classroom experience, and are only required to commit to two years of teaching before pursuing their true careers (in management or finance). There is a proviso in this bill that supports such alternative teacher credentials, which is another reason why I find this bill troubling.
Another disturbing element of the bill is its support for high-stakes testing. Section 401 refers to teacher evaluations, which are increasingly being determined by standardized student test scores thanks to demands of Race to the Top and other dubious ed reforms. This method and policy is fraught with error and inequity and is being decried by education experts like Diane Ravitch and Yong Zhao (and the entire country of Finland!). It is also, quite simply, bad for our kids. It is leading to teaching to the test, and is narrowing what our children are being taught. Here in Seattle, the school district is currently misusing the MAP test in this way. Here is a memo from John Cronin of NWEA — the manufacturer of the MAP test — telling a school district not to use the MAP test this way.
We all need to be mindful of the fact that the issue of how to deal with weak teachers is being used politically by those who have long opposed unions, in order to take aim at union policies (see Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida) and strip teachers of their rights. Meanwhile, value-added measurements, merit pay — the sorts of ed reform fads that this bill supports — are repeatedly being found flawed by a growing body of research.
For more information on why parents like myself oppose this bill, see: The PTA, “Ed Reform”, Don Nielson and Bill 1443
Below are excerpts from HB 1443 that concern me (BOLD CAP HEADLINES & COMMENTS ARE MINE).
ENABLES OR SUPPORTS PUNITIVE FEDERAL INTERVENTION MEASURES, SUCH AS SCHOOL CLOSURES. CHARTERS ARE ALSO MENTIONED. SUCH MEASURES HAVE NOT BEEN PROVEN TO BE EFFECTIVE, BUT CAN IN FACT BE HARMFUL TO SCHOOL COMMUNITIES
Sec. 106. RCW 28A.657.050 and 2010 c 235 s 105 are each amended to
28 read as follows: (…)
10 (2) A required action plan must include all of the following:
11 (a) Implementation of one of the four federal intervention models
12 required for the receipt of a federal school improvement grant, for
13 those persistently lowest-achieving schools that the district will be
14 focusing on for required action. However, a district may not establish
15 a charter school under a federal intervention model without express
16 legislative authority. The intervention models are the turnaround,
17 restart, school closure, and transformation models. The intervention
18 model selected must address the concerns raised in the academic
19 performance audit and be intended to improve student performance to
20 allow a school district to be removed from the list of districts
21 designated as a required action district by the state board of
22 education within three years of implementation of the plan;
23 (b) Submission of an application for a federal school improvement
24 grant or a grant from other federal funds for school improvement to the
25 superintendent of public instruction;
26 (c) A budget that provides for adequate resources to implement the
27 federal model selected and any other requirements of the plan;
28 (d) A description of the changes in the district’s or school’s
29 existing policies, structures, agreements, processes, and practices
30 that are intended to attain significant achievement gains for all
31 students enrolled in the school and how the district intends to address
32 the findings of the academic performance audit; ((and))
33 (e) Use of the state kindergarten readiness assessment process if
34 the school is an elementary school;
35 (f) Use of family engagement coordinators to build relationships
36 between families, the school, and the community to improve student
37 achievement; and
E2SHB 1443 p.
SEEMS TO OPEN THE DOOR TO WEAKEN OR DO AWAY WITH COLLECTIVE BARGAINING
(3)(a) For any district designated for required action, the parties
9 to any collective bargaining agreement negotiated, renewed, or extended
10 under chapter 41.59 or 41.56 RCW after June 10, 2010, must reopen the
11 agreement, or negotiate an addendum, if needed, to make changes to
12 terms and conditions of employment that are necessary to implement a
13 required action plan.
14 (b) If the school district and the employee organizations are
15 unable to agree on the terms of an addendum or modification to an
16 existing collective bargaining agreement, the parties, including all
17 labor organizations affected under the required action plan, shall
18 request the public employment relations commission to, and the
19 commission shall, appoint an employee of the commission to act as a
20 mediator to assist in the resolution of a dispute between the school
21 district and the employee organizations. Beginning in 2011, and each
22 year thereafter, mediation shall commence no later than April 15th.
23 All mediations held under this section shall include the employer and
24 representatives of all affected bargaining units.
25 (c) If the executive director of the public employment…
ALTERNATIVE CREDENTIALING PATHWAYS FOR TEACHING (= DE-PROFESSIONALIZING TEACHING, AND ENABLING TEACH FOR AMERICA RECRUITS?)
Sec. 213. RCW 28A.660.040 and 2010 c 235 s 504 are each amended to
6 read as follows:
7 Alternative route programs under this chapter shall operate one to
8 four specific route programs. Successful completion of the program
9 shall make a candidate eligible for residency teacher certification.
10 The mentor of the teacher candidate at the school and the supervisor of
11 the teacher candidate from the teacher preparation program must both
12 agree that the teacher candidate has successfully completed the
14 (1) Alternative route programs operating route one programs shall
15 enroll currently employed classified instructional employees with
16 transferable associate degrees or former participants in the recruiting
17 Washington teachers program who enter through the pipeline for
18 paraeducators conditional scholarship program under RCW 28A.660.042 who
19 are seeking residency teacher certification with endorsements in
20 mathematics, special education, bilingual education, or English as a
21 second language. It is anticipated that candidates enrolled in this
22 route will complete both their baccalaureate degree and requirements
23 for residency certification in two years or less, including a mentored
24 internship to be completed in the final year. In addition, partnership
25 programs shall uphold entry requirements for candidates that include:
26 (a) District or building validation of qualifications, including
27 one year of successful student interaction and leadership as a
28 classified instructional employee;
29 (b) Successful passage of the statewide basic skills exam; and
30 (c) Meeting the age, good moral character, and personal fitness
31 requirements adopted by rule for teachers.
32 (2) Alternative route programs operating route two programs shall
33 enroll currently employed classified staff with baccalaureate degrees
34 seeking residency teacher certification in subject matter shortage
35 areas and areas with shortages due to geographic location. Candidates
36 enrolled in this route must complete a mentored internship complemented
37 by flexibly scheduled training and coursework offered at a local site,
E2SHB 1443 p. 28
1 such as a school or educational service district, or online or via
2 video-conference over the K-20 network, in collaboration with the
3 partnership program’s higher education partner. In addition,
4 partnership grant programs shall uphold entry requirements for
5 candidates that include:
6 (a) District or building validation of qualifications, including
7 one year of successful student interaction and leadership as classified
9 (b) A baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution
10 of higher education. The individual’s college or university grade
11 point average may be considered as a selection factor;
12 (c) Successful completion of the subject matter assessment required
13 by RCW 28A.410.220(3);
14 (d) Meeting the age, good moral character, and personal fitness
15 requirements adopted by rule for teachers; and
16 (e) Successful passage of the statewide basic skills exam.
17 (3) Alternative route programs seeking funds to operate route three
18 programs shall enroll individuals with baccalaureate degrees, who are
19 not employed in the district at the time of application. When
20 selecting candidates for certification through route three, districts
21 and approved preparation program providers shall give priority to
22 individuals who are seeking residency teacher certification in subject
23 matter shortage areas or shortages due to geographic locations.
24 Cohorts of candidates for this route shall attend an intensive summer
25 teaching academy, followed by a full year employed by a district in a
26 mentored internship, followed, if necessary, by a second summer
27 teaching academy. In addition, partnership programs shall uphold entry
28 requirements for candidates that include:
29 (a) A baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution
30 of higher education. The individual’s grade point average may be
31 considered as a selection factor;
32 (b) Successful completion of the subject matter assessment required
33 by RCW 28A.410.220(3);
34 (c) External validation of qualifications, including demonstrated
35 successful experience with students or children, such as reference
36 letters and letters of support from previous employers;
37 (d) Meeting the age, good moral character, and personal fitness
38 requirements adopted by rule for teachers; and
p. 29 E2SHB 1443
1 (e) Successful passage of statewide basic skills exam.
2 (4) Alternative route programs operating route four programs shall
3 enroll individuals with baccalaureate degrees, who are employed in the
4 district at the time of application, or who hold conditional teaching
5 certificates or emergency substitute certificates. Cohorts of
6 candidates for this route shall attend an intensive summer teaching
7 academy, followed by a full year employed by a district in a mentored
8 internship. If employed on a conditional certificate, the intern may
9 serve as the teacher of record, supported by a well-trained mentor. In
10 addition, partnership programs shall uphold entry requirements for
11 candidates that include:
12 (a) A baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution
13 of higher education. The individual’s grade point average may be
14 considered as a selection factor;
15 (b) Successful completion of the subject matter assessment required
16 by RCW 28A.410.220(3);
17 (c) External validation of qualifications, including demonstrated
18 successful experience with students or children, such as reference
19 letters and letters of support from previous employers;
20 (d) Meeting the age, good moral character, and personal fitness
21 requirements adopted by rule for teachers; and
22 (e) Successful passage of statewide basic skills exam.
23 (5) Applicants for alternative route programs who are eligible
24 veterans or national guard members and who meet the entry requirements
25 for the alternative route program for which application is made shall
26 be given preference in admission.
27 PART III
TEACHER & PRINCIPAL EVALUATIONS (THESE HAVE BEEN AND SHOULD BE DETERMINED AT THE LOCAL LEVEL IN CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS. WHY IS THE STATE GETTING INVOLVED? WHY IS THE STATE TRYING TO “REVISE” THESE POLICIES? ALSO, ED REFORMERS ARE TRYING TO TIE TEACHER AND PRINCIPAL EVALUATION TO STUDENT TEST SCORES. THIS LEADS TO HIGH-STAKES TESTING, WHICH STIFLES EDUCATION AND CREATIVITY, AND HAS BEEN PROVEN NOT TO IMPROVE TEACHING OR LEARNING.)
NEW SECTION. Sec. 301. The legislature intends to continue
30 development and implementation of revised teacher and principal
31 evaluation systems according to the schedule in RCW 28A.405.100,
32 including supporting the work of those school districts developing and
33 piloting the revised evaluation systems.
34 Sec. 302. RCW 28A.400.201 and 2010 c 236 s 7 are each amended to
35 read as follows:
E2SHB 1443 p. 30
1 (1) The legislature recognizes that providing students with the
2 opportunity to access a world-class educational system depends on our
3 continuing ability to provide students with access to world-class
4 educators. The legislature also understands that continuing to attract
5 and retain the highest quality educators will require increased
6 investments. The legislature intends to enhance the current salary
7 allocation model and recognizes that changes to the current model
8 cannot be imposed without great deliberation and input from teachers,
9 administrators, and classified employees. Therefore, it is the intent
10 of the legislature to begin the process of developing an enhanced
11 salary allocation model that is collaboratively designed to ensure the
12 rationality of any conclusions regarding what constitutes adequate
14 (2) Beginning July 1
THIS ADDED SECTION CONFLATES BUDGET-INDUCED LAYOFFS WITH A PRINCIPAL’S RESPONSIBILITY TO ADDRESS WEAK TEACHERS. IT ALSO REINFORCES THE SERIOUSLY FLAWED AND CONTROVERSIAL PRACTICE OF BASING TEACHER EVALUATIONS ON STANDARDIZED STUDENT TEST SCORES. THIS IS BAD POLICY AND SHOULD NOT BE MADE INTO LAW.
19 PERFORMANCE-BASED REDUCTION IN FORCE DUE TO ENROLLMENT
20 DECLINE OR REVENUE LOSS
21 NEW SECTION. Sec. 401. A new section is added to chapter 28A.405
22 RCW to read as follows:
23 (1) When reductions in the workforce occur due to enrollment
24 decline or revenue loss, the employment contracts of any certificated
25 classroom teacher must be nonrenewed in the following manner within
26 each particular certification or endorsement area. Certificated
27 classroom teachers who received the lowest evaluation rating, as
28 described in RCW 28A.405.100 must have their contracts nonrenewed
30 (2) The board of directors of each school district shall adopt a
31 written policy governing procedures for the nonrenewal of employment
32 contracts for certificated classroom teachers as provided for in
33 subsection (1) of this section.
34 (3) Any school district whose board policies or locally bargained
35 agreement outlines recall rights for certificated classroom teachers
Official Print – 35 1443-S2.E AMS TOM S2830.1
1 must recall staff in the reverse order contracts were nonrenewed as
2 provided for in subsection (1) of this section.
3 (4) All collective bargaining agreements and other contracts
4 entered into between a school district and an employee bargaining unit
5 or an employee after the effective date of this section, as well as
6 bargaining agreements existing on the effective date of this section,
7 but renewed or extended after the effective date of this section, must
8 be consistent with this section. (…)
— Sue p.