The Subject


What Next in the pursuit of no reform in education?

California used to be 4th in the USA in educating K through 12.   Now it is 46th.   What school choice is bringing is more than a sense of decisions being made by concerned parents.  It is the increase in accountability leading to new management paradigms in education.  In other words mgmt. approaches that are more like the private sector.  

If we have to have a court make a decision on what is included in the evaluation of a teacher than we know we are going in the wrong direction.



California's School Head Fake: Link

Sacramento tries to strip student performance from teacher evaluations.


Covering the skullduggery in Sacramento is a full-time job, and sometimes it's hard to keep up, but we'll try. The latest example is an education bill that seeks to pre-empt a recent court order requiring that teachers be evaluated in part on student test scores. As always, the unions are getting the last word.


The school reform movement is sweeping the country as even many liberal Democrats seek to unite with parents against the union establishment. The Obama Administration has helped at the margin by making teacher accountability a factor in requests for more federal aid. Half of states now link teacher evaluations with student learning, and another half dozen are moving in that direction. Then there's California, which is doing a moon-walk on school reform.


In 1971 the state passed the Stull Act requiring that teacher evaluations take into account student progress. The legislature amended the law twice in the 1990s to make state standardized test scores a criterion for measuring progress. However, since most school boards take their marching orders from the unions, the law has been largely ignored. That was until a handful of parents last year sued the Los Angeles Unified School District for noncompliance.


In June Superior Court Judge James Chalfant ordered the district to include student test scores in teacher evaluations in accordance with the law. As the judge noted, something's amiss when 99.3% of teachers receive the highest grade on their evaluations, but only 46% of students score proficient on language arts state tests. The ruling set a precedent for parents across the state to demand that their districts also obey Stull.


This has alarmed the unions, which ordered their friends in the legislature to supersede the Los Angeles court order and ward off more legal challenges. The Assembly has dutifully passed a bill, which the Senate is now considering, that makes teacher evaluations entirely subject to collective bargaining. The bill would supposedly require evaluations to measure student academic growth, but that too would be subject to union negotiations.


Here's the kicker. Governor Jerry Brown and state Superintendent Tom Torlakson think they can sell this legislation as genuine reform to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who should know better. According to Mr. Torlakson, the bill would make the state's application for a No Child Left Behind waiver "more attractive."


Only in the eyes of the union beholders and beholden. One of the Education Department's criteria for a waiver is that states link a significant share of teacher evaluations to student achievement and test scores.


The anti-reformers are betting the White House will bend because it needs union support this fall. If Mr. Duncan does oblige, he'll be undermining his own standards for federal aid and betraying California students.



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