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Don't Change the Rules at Half-Time

Access to High-Quality Schools, Current Events & News, Legislation, Teachers & Principals | 03/16/2016

Lauren Fine

Lauren is a teacher at McGlone Elementary School

Like you, I have been closely watching the flow of bills that have been introduced this legislative session by the Colorado General Assembly. While I know that our legislators have good intentions, I am troubled by a few proposed education-related policies that would take our state backward. As an educator, I have testified on some of these bills, urging our lawmakers to give me and my colleagues the chance to digest the changes to standards and assessments that have only been implemented in the past year or two.

To start, Colorado only first used PARCC in 2015, which is hardly enough time to measure the merits of the assessment. To be clear, there were issues with implementation, but I am confident that these problems will be resolved moving forward. I want the opportunity to see how well my students’ PARCC scores have improved between last year and this year; the next PARCC exam is coming up in April. Legislation that seeks to pull us out of PARCC will only create more confusion and frustration for teachers and students.

Equally troubling was Senator Merrifield’s SB16-105, which sought to drastically alter the way in which educator evaluations are quantified. When I testified before the Senate Education Committee on this bill several weeks ago, I made it clear that I am responsible for what my students learn and how much they grow. Teachers deserve an evaluation system that gives them regular and fair feedback. SB1-191 has not even been fully implemented, so please give it some time.

Lastly, a bill was introduced with the goal of repealing mutual consent, a provision that requires districts and teachers to jointly agree on placement. HB16-1099 by Representative Salazar will be heard on March 21. I will be in attendance to testify about why this bill is bad for educators and schools across the state. Not only could it force teachers into a placement that they do not want, but it could also put ineffective teachers into schools that need the best, most experienced teachers.

I hope your main takeaway is this: it has taken teachers several years to prepare for PARCC assessments, and many of us are starting to embrace the policies introduced in SB10-191. Please, don’t change the rules at half-time. As we have just planted our feet and become comfortable with many of the new changes to our educational system, the Colorado General Assembly cannot pull the rug from under us now.  Please, keep us grounded so we can do what we educators do best: teach our kids.

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  • Not clear. How does the mutual consent work. ( I think I get it, but humor me) vs. Real life example of what the new bill would do. I.e a school district can tell you to leave a school and report to another school? I get that it's unpopular. How would a school get a bad teacher? You mean one administrator is slacking and not making the teacher do well, so they send you ( doing great) over to bad school as a model ( good for them), but they send the "bad" (/uninspired) teacher to the good school ( also as a model ( she is getting to see a good model, and be able to reach her potential ( or find out it's too hard and quits..... ) How is that ability to manage and use people to the maximum, for overall good of the district. What if they gave teachers that excel at eval, but disagreed to move, a mandatory bonus to move? Teachers that don't excel at eval, don't get the bonus. That takes the sting out of great teachers in great schools, being used to raise standards in those other schools. Plus, sed have to give you two years to establish a new performance baseline, indicitive of that other schools docio/economic/intellectual/education bases, so you can't be shown on eval to go backwards. Gouf get the bonus for those two years. I'd say 10% a year. So 4,5,$6000 bonus. Depending on salary. How's that?
    Barry Cole

    March 17, 2016 4:43 PM

  • Hi Barry-- Thanks for your question. We connected with our policy team to gather more information. Mutual consent hiring only happens after a school or district goes through a reduction-in-force (RIF) due to budget changes or cuts. Some people call it reduction-in-building (RIB); they're the same thing. If a building has to make personnel cuts, there's a long procedure involving teachers, administrators, and other stakeholders who decide which position(s) will be eliminated. The teachers whose positions are cut are given assistance by the district in finding a new placement. This can include resume assistance, placement in a priority hiring pool, or early interview dates. And here's where mutual consent comes into play... WITHOUT mutual consent the district would be required to find an open position and fill it with one of the RIFed teachers, regardless of whether the teacher or the school felt comfortable with the placement - and continue to pay the teacher until they are placed. WITH mutual consent, RIFed teachers continue to receive salary and benefits for 2 hiring cycles or 18 months, whichever is longer, while they look for another district position. At the end of that time, if the educator hasn't been offered a placement by a school, the teacher stops receiving salary and benefits. So the whole purpose is to ensure that teachers and schools have a good fit. This legislation, would bring back what is called “forced-placement” for teachers. This would require the district to place teachers impacted by RIB/RIF in schools with open positions regardless of whether or not the teacher wants to work there or the school determines it is the right fit. For more information, check out our new blog post on this topic: http://bit.ly/1XAEwFR and the Denver Post editorial board recently wrote about the legislation as well: http://dpo.st/1pyRTfd.
    kdoran

    March 18, 2016 11:01 AM