On Teacher Tenure, Everybody Slow Down

/ 8 March 2012 / jennifer

Michael Diedrich, Minnesota 2020, March 8, 2012 –

Governor Dayton’s going to have a big decision to make soon. The state Senate and House of Representatives have each passed billsreplacing seniority with a teacher evaluation system as the initial determinant of teacher layoffs. Here’s the thing: that system doesn’t exist yet.

It’s being developed by a task force working under the Minnesota Department of Education. You can visit their web site here and see that we’re still a long way from having this system drafted, much less refined to the point of being workable. The bottom line is that the system won’t go statewide until the 2014-15 school year, with plans for improvements and revisions after that. It seems to me that we have more pressing matters in our schools than specifying the uses of a system that’s five years from completion.

Here’s the official timeline, straight from the “Teacher Evaluation ESEA Summary” document on the task force site:

  1. 2011-2012 Model Development: Develop core competencies, training requirements.
  2. 2012-2013 Model Refinement: Design evaluator training, enhance state data systems and determine SEA* approval process of LEA** models.
  3. 2013-2014 Pilot Year: Select schools will participate in the new evaluation process including evaluator training, model revision based on pilot feedback, monitor initial fidelity of implementation.
  4. 2014-2015 Full Implementation: All LEAs statewide will implement.
  5. 2015-2016 Implementation Refinement: Adjustments will be made to the model and implementation strategies based on lessons learned.

As you can see, this thing is many years away from being ready for prime time.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the conservative rush to make this a law. If they lose ground in the state government between now and when this system could reasonably be used for something meaningful, this push might no longer be possible. My only question is why some progressives are giving them political cover for this.

This law won’t do anything to help our kids now. You know what would? More state support for our schools (instead of delayed payments). More attention for early childhood. More advocacy for a broader view of education that isn’t limited by narrow and unreliable tests of basic skills. Think conservatives will pick up any of these calls? I’m not holding my breath.

_* State Education Agency (the Minnesota Department of Education)

** Local Education Agency (basically, a school district)_