Publicola had an interview with Governor Gregoire and she had some interesting things to say about education:
PubliCola: It seems more aggressive than the one you laid out. [Gregoire announced a reform proposal last week—AP report here— that will put a pilot project of 4-tiered teacher evaluations in play statewide]. It ties teacher evaluations to student test scores, calls for charter schools, and allows the state to step in and take over failing schools. It’s in sync with President Obama’s education reform agenda. The proposal you came out with last week seems like a “lite” version of that to education reformers [because the evaluations aren't tied explicitly to "student academic growth"].
Gregoire: I don’t really think so. I think what it is is a Washington reform. The most recent studies on charter schools come out of Stanford. And there’s no guarantee of anything there. As many as there are doing OK, there are an equal number that are not. … Why would we go down a path where there’s no big success to be had? And our voters have already turned [charters] down three times.
I developed this lab school idea, which serves two purposes: One, you have our four-year university schools partner up with one of our bottom five percent schools and really run the school and get them to transition out of their low performance. And two, you really do take your schools of education and improve them dramatically, because if they’re going to train teachers, what better training for them than to be inside a classroom and see what works and what doesn’t work?
PubliCola: What about tying test scores to teacher evaluations?
Gregoire: So, come with me to a school that I went to in the Renton School District—28 kids in this guy’s classroom when he starts the school year, and at the end of the year he has eight of the original 28. So we’re going to say to a teacher, your career rests and falls on a class of eight because the other 20 transferred out?
Is it hypothetically a good idea? Sure—when we can make sure that it works. Until then, I think it’s a huge mistake.
PubliCola: Using that logic, you get critiqued from the other side, the union side. Your proposal will be statewide evaluations. So, why should a teacher in one district be judged the same way a teacher in another district is judged when there are different communities and different needs?
Gregoire: There are eight criteria and 16 school districts that have been piloting, from rural to urban, and those 16 have done it together and they have done a marvelous job … because it didn’t come from the top down, it came based on research and best practices of education experts around the country.
So, if I am [an] unsatisfactory [teacher] here, then it’s my principal’s job to take care of me here, and if I can’t get it together over the course of that school year and raise myself to basic, I need to look for employment elsewhere. And elsewhere doesn’t mean I go across town [to another school.]