I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Business Leaders are Supportive of School Reform

Today's viewpoint submission in the PJN by Gulf Power CEO Susan Story really points out the disconnect between the business community and others in education who want to continue the status quo. First off--I'm in agreement with the the viewpoint--I think she is right on--the problem is--the FEA has sent out a strong message to the state Department of Education, shooting holes through "Race to the Top." The State teacher's union has come right out of the gate, slammed their fist on the table, and said no to this initiative by Barack Obama and Arne Duncan. I think this is premature and unfortunate.

The Union's biggest gripes?

1. Merit Pay/teacher compensation reform --Union feels this Race to the Top component is unfair because it rewards some teachers but not all teachers equally. ("NO FAIR") Also, the union feels that it is impossible to rate a teacher. There is no "perfect" system, so because perfection has not been achieved we should never try to even think about developing a system to rate teachers and pay the best ones extra. Besides, paying some teachers more than others could cause some hard feelings among some teachers. (Remember, according to the union-- all teachers are fantastic, and the BEST and ONLY fair way to compensate teachers is by years of service and educational attainment/certification on a single salary scale)

The problem with the union's thought on this is that people from around America, Captains of Industry and Business leaders from every trade imaginable are taking a hard look at Education in America--and the suggestions they are making mirror much of what Race to the Top emphasizes.

A recent study by the Committee for Economic Development took a hard look at Merit Pay/Teacher Compensation and the consensus was that Change is necessary for a variety of reasons--for the good of our nation's students. I know our friends in the Union wish that this report would never have seen the light of day. They hate the fact that their guy Barack Obama is really pushing the education reform train, and they hate that conservatives agree with Obama on his Education Agenda. If people from broad backgrounds around the nation are clammoring for reform, but the Union says "no"-- who is right? I think it is intelligent folks like Bill Gates and others who are saying something has to change--I think these are the ones who have it right.

2. Teacher Evaluations --Union feels that the sigular, one and only reason that evaluations are meaningless is because Principals do a terrible job of evaluating--it's all the fault of the Principal! (reformers like me want to utilize longitudinal student test data--which we have-- as one measure among several factors to identify and reward high performing teachers and to show weak performers the door.) The Union feels this is "not fair"

I am all for Race to the Top. I'm on record with being in support, but the sad fact is that one county at a time, 67 battlegrounds will emerge, and one by one Florida counties will succumb to unrelenting pressure from our friends in the union and dissassocite themselves from race to the top.

Everyone in education needs to pay close attention in the next few months to see who really wants to change education in America, and who wants to guard the status quo, claim to be in it for the kids, and keep crying for more money. I, for one, am sick of hearing the same line over and over "we're in it for the kids, but we need more money" from some in education--and then these same people immediately do everything they can to protect their fifedoms and the status quo--often to the detriment of students.

I've said it before, I do not listen to what they say, I watch what they do. Actions speak louder than words.

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