In an interview with Education News Colorado, Senate Candidate and former Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, acknowledged some of the merits of--and raised concerns over--the state's recently-passed teacher tenure reform bill (SB 191). Romanoff ultimately declined to say whether he would have voted for the controversial law, which has divided Democrats heading into the August primaries.
Romanoff, who made education one of his signature issues as Speaker of the House, told Education News Colorado he believes that teachers--next to parents--are the second most important influence in the lives of children.
"Since it's harder for us to legislate good parenting, a lot of efforts in the capital and elsewhere are aimed at legislating good teaching," Romanoff said.
Senate Bill 191, which was introduced in the legislature by Democratic Senator Michael Johnston, will more closely link student performance with teacher tenure.
The bill passed with widespread Republican support, but failed to gain the endorsement of many in the Democratic caucus. The legislation was also panned by the Colorado teachers' union, a key constituency for Democrats.
In his interview, Romanoff did not say explicitly whether he would have voted for SB 191. He did, however, echo many of the points made by the teachers' union and legislators who opposed the bill.
"Most of the teachers I've talked to would be thrilled if someone evaluated their performance and paid them accordingly, but the evaluation can't be simply on the basis of a test score... A comprehensive evaluation of a teacher performance demands more... than the typre of evaluation you might be able to make on the basis of a test score... It demands principals do their jobs... Conduct reviews with peers, and take a look at the value a teacher is adding."
Concerns over using test scores as a barometer for student growth were a recurring theme throughout the debate on SB 191. Democrat Mike Merrifield, a former teacher who chairs the House Education Committee and was one of the SB 191's most vociferous detractors, told the Denver Post "There were so much emphasis on using testing as the evaluating tool, and I just do not believe in tests as being the logical, legitimate way to test a teacher's skills."
Romanoff's opponent, incumbent Michael Bennet, has not publicly endorsed the teacher tenure reform law either. However, he became a public face of the school reform movement--which has supported reform--as Superintendent of the Denver Public School system.
Despite Romanoff's moderate stance on school reform, many of his supporters have made efforts to exploit Bennet's history as a reformer in order to gain the support of teachers.
The Colorado teachers' union, known as the Colorado Education Association, has not made an official endorsement of either candidate.
WATCH Romanoff's interview:
WATCH Romanoff supporter Wade Norris discusses education reform with members of the teachers' union:
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