Florida teachers just won a victory over Senate Bill 6, which would base teacher pay solely on test scores.
Now, teachers in Colorado are seeing a similar piece of legislation. Senate bill 191 creates a new system of bureaucracy to grade 'teacher effectiveness' without paying for it.
Teachers wanted to talk, and you can hear their opinions on this bill.
The backers Senate Bill 191 may have good intentions, but it makes 50% of teachers pay and job security based solely on students' standardized test scores.
Two teachers, Melissa Underwood-Verdeal and Barbara Bennett weigh in on this bill:
Senate Bill 191 addresses teacher effectiveness without defining what teacher effectiveness means. I believe I have a responsibility to the whole child, not just the part of the child that is going to put a pencil in their hand and take a test.
50% of teachers effectiveness is based on student test scores. I currently have 28 students who are English language learners, and for me to have 50% of my effectiveness determined by student responses on a test they can't even read is of grave concern to me.
This quote seems to sum up the disparities this bill does not consider; in fact, this bill seems likely to simply reward teachers who teach in affluent districts whose students are likely to do better on standardized tests, regardless of teacher 'effectiveness,' and at the same time add a disincentive to those who would take on the task of teaching in schools who have higher numbers of students who don't speak English or are from poorer backgrounds.
Senator Johnston's bill seeks to get 'Race to the Top' money, but they are failing to recognize that every bill must have teacher union support or it will lose Race to the Top points, and teachers and the union are going to fight this bill, just as they did in Florida.
This last point is the most important - this bill seeks "Race to the Top" points, however, one of the qualifications of the Race to the Top program is that the teachers union in each participating state must support legislation to meet the requirements.
If Senate Bill 191 passes, it is apparent that the teachers union will not support it, thus nullifying any ability for Colorado to qualify for Race to the Top funds - so what is the end game?
It appears that if Senator Johnston truly wanted the Race to the Top funds, he would have sought to craft a bill which Teachers would have supported.
Additionally, Senator Johnston is proposing a bill that mandates more spending at a time that the State budget is already being slashed and the largest school district, Denver Public schools, is reeling from losses from investing in a banking derivative.
Reform is a good thing, and is appreciated, but this approach seeks reform blindly in an attempt to get federal funds, without considering the unintended consequences or how educators themselves view this bill.
Please contact Colorado legislators and tell them to vote 'NO' on Senate Bill 191.
(for more information on the Bill's sponsor and the interesting history on these types of test bills, evaluations and the Bush family, read UM's piece Edu-haters on the Rampage in Colorado!'
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