This bill creates a pool of bonus money that school districts are to use to create end-of-course assessments for all classes, and to evaluate the performance of teachers and school-based administrators based in part on these assessments. Five percent of the state instructional dollars will be set aside to make up the tests and then give bonuses to those who have the best scores. I could go on for hours about how this will lead to inauthentic assessments, and the implementation issues for teachers who work with the most challenging kids, but I will leave those arguments to others. Instead, I would like to focus on just one question for my fellow educators:
What do you think we should do to ensure high quality teaching and learning?
As I have been perusing social media sites, and receiving calls-to-action from unions regarding this matter, I have been absolutely stunned. Teachers keep focusing on how this will ruin our schools and damage our kids - and believe me, I agree. However, what are our solutions? I keep reading that educators are having trouble getting the attention of the media on this issue. They are lamenting how they have protested and written letters and they are being ignored. Well, I hate to tell you, but it really is all our own fault. For decades now, we teachers, led by powerful unions, have demanded and received incredible increases in salaries and improvement in working conditions. We have resisted every effort at holding ourselves accountable for student performance and hung onto the notion that we should be guaranteed a job for life - even if we don’t deserve it. Unfortunately, there isn’t much research that supports that any of these efforts have improved our education system.
So, I ask again - what do you think we should do? I believe that instead of fighting SB 6, we should work with key legislators to develop another bill that will really have an impact of improving teaching and learning. WE need to use all available research and experience to determine what that means, and translate it into legislation that will benefit the kids we serve. We need to stop reacting to bad ideas, and start creating good ones that will truly transform schools. If you want proof that this approach will work, just ask Hillsborough County educators. They have a waiver thanks to their work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Check out this language in the SB 6:
“Other Significant Provisions
The bill creates an unnumbered section to provide a waiver of the provisions of the bill for districts that receive $75 million or more in a grant from a private foundation for improving the effectiveness of teachers within the school district.”