Union: Better education 'not just test scores'
Published 6:30 pm, Wednesday, January 4, 2012
The education reform package advanced Tuesday by the state's largest teachers' union would speed up the dismissal process for poor teachers, but would not strengthen the link between job security and how well students do on state tests.
"There are multiple indicators. It's not just about test scores," she said, adding true reform would be to streamline the dismissal process for bad teachers and do more to make sure teachers have proper training before and once they get into the classroom.
The CEA package, called A View From the Classroom, contains a number of other suggestions to provide universal preschool and all-day kindergarten and increase state funding for local education expenses.
Malloy has said the session will focus largely on efforts to improve education.
In recent weeks, a number of groups have issued education recommendations, including the organization that represents school administrators.
The teacher plan was praised Tuesday by Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor as credible and full of good ideas.
"We agree more than we don't," said Pryor, refusing to elaborate.
He later said he does not think the state's teacher evaluation process does enough to elevate the profession. He called the certification system broken.
The union's plan to evaluate teachers, according to Levine, would create a professional standards board for educators that would be made up of educators.
Lawmakers must trust that educators, like other professionals, want to elevate their status by setting heightened standards for the teaching profession, according to the report.
"We want to be evaluated," said Levine, who said now, the process skips over some teachers.
Beyond test scores, Levine said teachers should be judged on how well they plan, organize and manage their classrooms, interact with peers and continue to learn.
Levine said the current due process law for dismissing bad teachers is outdated.
She would shorten the time line, from 120 to 80 days and use one arbitrator instead of three.
As for the state's education funding formula, Levine said it needs to be based on more realistic and up-to-date data that takes into account the true cost of educating students, as well as more accurate community wealth and pupil population data.
State Sen. Pro Tem Donald Williams called the union plan full of excellent suggestions.
He said the ideas about universal pre-kindergarten are widely acknowledged as key to improving student achievement, but need to be balanced with budgetary realities.
He wants to start with school districts that have the most student performance problems.
Williams seemed to side with the union on the issue of linking teacher evaluations to how well students do. He likened it to judging doctors by how many of their patients recover.
"You couldn't get doctors to work in poor communities if that was the case because you won't get the same outcomes," he said, adding that patients in poor communities have less opportunity to take care of themselves.
"The same is true in education," said Williams. "Student performance is important but not the entire picture."