Showdown in Olympia

Tomorrow is a big day in Olympia as House Bill 1609 (the so-called "Great Schools" legislation) will hold a public hearing. LEV and Stand for Children are all for this bill which would overturn the teachers contract issue of using seniority for RIFs.

Let me go on the record as saying I see both sides. I can see why, in the face of the lack of any known method of assessing teachers fairly, teachers would go with seniority. On the other hand, it does seem wrong that being a teacher longer than another teacher would necessarily be the game changer. It says absolutely nothing about your abilities (except that in all your years of being a teacher, you had done nothing to get kicked out).

It's quite the dilemma.

I also want to point out that in Seattle, the SEA signed their contract for 3 more years of continuing the use of seniority in RIFs. But I also want to point out that the School Board agreed to this and the district signed off on it. So don't put it all on the union when the leadership in this district said yes as well. Be mad if you don't like it but remember who signed the document.

LEV had a blurb about the bill coming up for the hearing. And they said this:

The House Education Committee will hold a public hearing tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. on House Bill 1609, which would allow school districts to keep their most effective teachers.

What I take issue with is this: it is indeed possible that under seniority, you could lose a good teacher. But the statement above says,

"...which would allow school districts to keep their most effective teachers."

How do you know every teacher RIFed is a "most effective teacher"? Some might be and some might not. It's easy to use hyperbole when you want to push a bill but it's not really fair. Not every teacher who is RIFed is one of the most effective.

LEV gives no mention that at least in Seattle, the new contract HAS a new system of teacher assessment (which most would consider a step in the right direction). Once that is in place I can see eliminating seniority. There are also 17 pilot projects throughout Washington state on teacher assessment. So there is work and movement in the direction away from the use of seniority but apparently no one wants to wait to see the work through.

I'm no lawyer (so help me out you Perry Masons) but, if passed, would this law would overturn those portions of the teachers contract about seniority? Would those have to be renegotiated or does the law now just substitute for that wording?


dan dempsey said…
This line is complete and utter BS ==>

"...which would allow school districts to keep their most effective teachers."

The school District has no way of determining most effective teachers.

What they are more likely to do is keep their most compliant teachers. ... Think about math in the SPS.

Meanwhile... Why is the SPS keeping their Superintendent? It must be that the Board found her most effective and extended her contract.

... Really is the District cannot even determine that the "Supe" is totally misguided .... How could this organization possibly have a clue about much of anything involving teachers?

Check the appeal of the Math adoption "Arbitrary and Capricious" ruling ... these folks couldn't recognize "effective" under any circumstance.


Really, since when has relevant data been applied to do anything effectively in Education?
dan dempsey said…
Try this for showdown in Olympia.....

My 4:45 PM letter to the Gov......

Dear Gov,

Ms. Melody Younglove, your Constituent Services Manager has been provided extensive proof of a class C Felony, Forgery, committed in the Seattle Public Schools, which is neither being investigated nor prosecuted. See has been given information on three separate occasions. The first two times she failed to contact me. Only on a third face to face visit did I have contact with her. It appears that she has no intention of following up on a felony committed by one or more Seattle School Administrators.

Do I need to file a recall action for the recall and discharge of a public official?

Should I begin recall action with the King County Prosecutor, the Attorney General, or the Governor?

Or recall action against all three?

Please advise.


Danaher M. Dempsey, Jr.
Mark Ahlness said…
We have no idea how how to assess teachers, so let's just eliminate seniority. That'll fix 'em.

Oh good grief. This is the edreform movement at its air-headed best.

The problem with education in this country is not its teachers.
Anonymous said…
I was fascinated in 1980 when I was 20 and making 4 bucks an hour as a cook at the bald faced lies of Ronnie Raygun - how could anyone above drooler brain power believe his lies?

HOW could the uber connected, uber credentialed, uber degreed DIM-0-crats lost to such lies?

Here we are 31 years later, and Raygun's lies are accepted truths for too much of the population, and too frequently repeated and given credence in the circles of Democratic "leaders".

In the last few years, I have see the teacher bashing "truths" of the education reform crowd tossed about like Raygun's fantasies on tax cuts for the rich pigs on top - ya know, the pigs who need the cuts to stay on top and to stay pigs?

From YOUR reports of Chris Korsmo's Thursday night performance, the LEV crowd has, yet again, this tight little world of soundbites which account for all villains and which provide all solutions against the villains.

I suppose that years and decades of rubbing elbows with the pooh-bah$ = telling pooh-bah$ what they want to hear. Obviously, what pooh-bah$ want to hear is blame the teachers - otherwise they'd have to stop ignoring the "work" of those who've been in charge of the education systems and who've done a bang up job of letting the systems rot.

Anyone have a $pare ticket to the Neverland reform expre$$?

"Buster" as in union buster said…
I see 1609 as a very slippery slope.

There will be an enormous amount of temptation to reduce costs. What better way than to eliminate a senior teacher? 1609 is a bad move.

I wonder how it feels to be a union busting democrat.
ericb said…
I think your comment "don't put it all on the union " is a real understatement. The Union is doing what they are supposed to do - advocating for their members. It is our elected Board and the District that is supposed to advocate for the students and the people. If they sign a contract that is not in our best interest (and I personally think that RIFs based on seniority is not) then that is not a failing of the union, but of the Board and the District. As for what happens if State law changes, look at the first comment when you asked this same question in the "Teachers and RIFs" post Jan 29.
Unknown said…
This bill has principals essentially making a numerical list of their favorite to least favorite teachers. Creepy. Ass-kissing will certainly go up. Competition between teachers will go up. If you think new teachers struggle now, wait until they're competing directly with experienced teachers for their jobs. Why would anybody do anything for a new teacher? Teachers do a lot of free work not in their own self-interest, but there's a limit somewhere to free good will.

And if you've got a principal who's too lazy or incompetent to build a good staff (and remove incompetent teachers) through the evaluation process, you've exactly got a principal that is likely to exploit all the worst possibilities of abuse of power. Imagine: "Well, Ms. Jones, thanks for coming into my office so late in the afternoon. Let's sit on the couch here and discuss what you can do to move up the RiF list."

The RiF will also be used to lower average teacher pay, by targeting older teachers, not based on effectiveness, but on where they are on the salary scale. "Effectiveness" will quickly evolve into "cost-effectiveness." Watch.

And it enshrines the RiF process as the way to cull staff. So you'll get RiFs every year. How can that possibly be good for schools and kids? I've worked at schools in California that had 25% staff turnover every year (not from RiFs, just attrition). Impossible to sustain programs. Every teacher an island.

Why does the public believe that experience doesn't matter in teaching? It matters everywhere else. Every year of the 25 years I've taught, I've become a better teacher. And I know how to still work harder than almost any 22 year old.
dan dempsey said…
Tuesday 2-15-2011.

Hearing on HB 1609 today.

Info here.
Jet City mom said…
I've gone to education lobby day before- it was ...interesting - even though I sat next to Helen Sommers which was a frustrating experience-( she was pretty rigid in her perception of families) other reps were more realistic however.

It is also environmental lobby day today- but I am putting my time where I think it will count the most & heading down on the 28th for Reproductive health & rights day.

Anyway- has any one seen this yet?
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Parents, school superintendents and potential teachers will soon be able to determine the quality of teacher education programs in Ohio's public and private colleges.

On Wednesday, the state became the first in the country to set standards for annual performance reports assessing the training provided by every program and whether its graduates are thriving or struggling in the classroom.

Schools of education will be graded based on factors including how well graduates perform on state licensure exams, how those graduates perform as teachers and how well their students do.

I do think there should be more interaction with school districts and schools of education.

I've been on 5 or 6 teacher hiring committees ( & 2 for principal), in SPS & just shall we say it was a " learning experience".

I do think that schools of education need to be transparent about their graduates & how they do on certification exams- just from the applicants perspective alone, but I do not want schools of education to be evaluated on how K-12 students pass group administered tests, because given the flaws of the state sanctioned tests- that piece of data would not tell me about the teachers ability to adapt to the needs of individual students & the classroom.

Not everything that is important is measurable.

I agree that it sounds like a bad bill.
Principals already have structures in place to remove really bad teachers- is it the teachers fault if the principals think documenting cause is too much work?

I do know, of some teachers who basically are hanging in till retirement. Proud to say that they haven't changed anything for twenty years. I do not think that is the majority- & I don't it won't kill any kid to have one or two bad teachers but have two bad teachers in a row combined with a couple mediocre ones & that messes up their school career for a long time.
From Article 1, Section 10 of the United States Constitution:

"No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility."

A contract or the terms of a contract cannot be simply repealed by a legislature. What the legislature could do is prohibit school boards from signing labor contracts that include seniority clauses in the future, but the current ones seem likely to be safe.
Anonymous said…
LEV's "Big Girl Pants" is at it again begging people to try and revive proposed Bill 5399 by way of her latest spam e-mail.

I can't believe that this woman is a parent but I guess money talks for some people and Gates and Broad are paying LEV plenty to talk for them.

Now is the time to act, Seattle. Let's step out of the blogosphere for a minute and contact our reps and let them know what the rest of us think.
Anonymous said…

The last time that I looked at the teacher's contract, there was a clause that if TFA is hired to work in Seattle, then the contract is up for renegotiation.

Don't be too sure that the teacher's contract is locked up and all is safe with the world, not as long as there are folks like Gates and Broad around who want to make changes to our schools and will pay lots of money to try and force that happen.

I would suggest going back and reading the fineprint.
salander said…
There have been rumors floating around that in order to justify their recent pay raise principals must meet quotas (complete with deadlines) of passing out negative feedback to teachers.

These rumors have recently been confirmed as there is suddenly a drastic increase in teachers on probation plans. Most of these are experieced (costly) teachers.
The last time that I looked at the teacher's contract, there was a clause that if TFA is hired to work in Seattle, then the contract is up for renegotiation.

Why on God's green earth did the teacher's union agree to that?

Serious question - I don't get who that provision benefits.

In any case, my original point stands - contracts are, in general, constitutionally protected against legislative meddling. If the contract has a big old hole in it that the district can take advantage of, well, then the union's contract negotiators didn't do a very good job.
Anonymous said…
Cascadia, I agree.

I very much wanted to testify today but because of my commitment to teaching, was not able to but...word has it that there was one teacher who testified FOR Bill 1609 today and guess who that was!

A former TFAer who is also married to one of our District Directors,Bree Dusseault who, according to Melissa, comes from a background in charter schools.

By the way, this same individual was spotted at the recent Seattle Forum saying that the Strategic Plan was "A OK" with him.

Oh what a tangled web we weave...

Everyone is bought and sold in this ed reform business.
Anonymous said…
By the way, the guy's name is Chris Eide and he teaches at Mercer Middle School.

You can see him at about 1 hour and 19 minutes into today's session.

See House Education Committee Hearings.
Just for the record, Chris is the former TFAer that I met with when I did my research on TFA. He is a kind and decent person and a dedicated teacher. I know he and other TFAers are not happy with me but that is the nature of activism.

I actually have a long TFA article that is coming soon.
Anonymous said…
Brianna Dusseault, yeah just alittle bit biased...

How the hell did she get hired to oversee principals much more experienced than she? GAWWW

Chris S. said…
Melissa, I sat next to Chris Eide at the Town Hall and you're a much classier person than he is. He didn't say anything terrible about you but he didn't say you were a kind and dedicated person either.
Anonymous said…
It doesn't matter to me if Chris is a decent and wonderful guy or Jack the Ripper.

It is important to know who is saying what and possibly why.

And regarding TFA, Sue and I will be all over it as a special warm welcome to Wendy Kopp when she graces us with her presence in March.
Chris S. said…
Like, "sure, the strategic plan is pretty good" coming from someone whose honey got a six-figure position out of it?
I'd like to go on record as saying that I am in no way upset with Melissa- quite the contrary. I think that her work (and Mr. Dempsey's work as well) on digging up relevant data on education issues and presenting them in a cohesive way is nothing short of commendable. I deeply appreciate having all of the facts brought to the table and having a problem-solving attitude when approaching them. In fact, I think that Melissa's work is often unfortunately tied to others who contribute to this blog who are prone to heresay, slander, and closed-mindedness. Melissa, I hope that you keep up your good work, and that your fellow contributors rise up to your level of detail, analysis and relative impartiality. Chris, I regret not having introduced myself at the Town Hall, perhaps that was not classy. I hope that you will excuse me that, I was quite preoccupied. Please give me another chance.
In addition, I didn't say that the strategic plan was alright by me, I said that I think that the four-tiered evaluation system is valuable for teachers who believe that we must always push to improve our practice.
Anonymous said…
You guys are aware that Chris Eide is married to Bree the NW director...right?

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