Teachers Sought by Union to Oppose Evaluations

by lewwaters

Amazing the steps the teachers union apparently will take to fight basing teacher evaluations on student test scores. Following is a full email sent to me that is claimed to have been sent out to all members of the WEA, along with the request to not reply, print or forward the email.

Fortunately, someone decided the public has a right to know.

You in the private sector do not receive the opportunity to miss work, with pay and have your travel paid to support or oppose legislation that effects your children. But the teachers union apparently does.

From: “Tim Brittell [WA]” <TBrittell@WashingtonEA.org>
Sent: Tuesday, March 4, 2014 9:37:42 AM
Subject: We will pay for your sub to come to Olympia.

Please do not reply, print, or forward this message. To sign up for the bus, call us from your cell phone on non-work time. NSEA: 425.486.7101 x 111

Dear NSEA Member,

To make it easier for you to go to Olympia this Thursday (the day after tomorrow) to stop legislation to base our evaluations on student test scores:

· Your absence may create difficulties at your school for ONE DAY, but losing this fight will create even greater difficulties for your school, colleagues, and students for the foreseeable future.

· Now, you don’t need a Personal Day join us on this Statewide lobby and rally day. NSEA will pay for your substitute for the first 50 members who make this commitment to go. (Many of us want to go to Olympia on Thursday, but don’t have a Personal Day available. So we cut the budget for other NSEA programs so you can go!) Call 425.486.7101 x 111 to sign up for the bus, and we will send you the sub code to use for the day.

· Earlier departure and return: We will now leave from Pop Keeney at 9 AM (not 10 AM) and return no later than 3:30 sharp (not 4 pm).

· Each school should be sending teachers for this important effort.

· If you have already signed up, we will send you a new “sub code” to use, so you won’t use a Personal Day.

This could affect you, your students, and school for decades to come. Join us for a big day of lobbying and a rally to stop legislation to make our evaluations based on our students’ test scores. Don’t regret later that you passed up this opportunity to stand up for what’s right.

Call us at 425.486.7101 ext. 111 to sign up for the NSEA bus to Olympia this Thursday, March 6. This is first come-first serve. We will then email you with a sub code to use for Thursday. We will send out an email to all once the bus is filled.

Thank you!

Tim Brittell
President, NSEA

Will your evaluation be based on your students’ test scores?
LOBBY & RALLY WITH US TO STOP THIS. COME TO OLYMPIA ON THE NSEA BUS!
THIS THURSDAY, MARCH 6

Please don’t regret later that you missed this opportunity to make a difference.

Basing teacher evaluations on student test scores is worse than a bad idea. It would not only be unfair to teachers, but it would also narrow our teaching and damage our students and schools.

In the final days of this Legislative Session, some legislators, along with the US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, are crafting a bill to do just this! Educators from across the state will be converging on the Capitol this Thursday, March 6 to tell legislators this hurts students and is unfair to all educators.

NSEA has chartered a bus to transport you to Olympia and back. We will also be providing sack lunches for all that attend. Come join your colleagues and stand up for your students, yourself, and public education! The district has been advised of this action and will not contest the use of personal leave.

When: Thursday, March 6th
Leave From: Pop Keeney Field Parking Lot at 9:00 am
Return To: Pop Keeney Field Parking Lot approx. 3:30 pm

As we once again are faced with pumping more money into the teachers union, err, schools and the union fights effort to evaluate those teachers, reflect on words spoken by Sen. Patty Murray on Aug. 10, 2011 in Richland, Wa. “Too often, I hear from students who feel that what they learn in school isn’t relevant to the work they will do when they graduate — and unfortunately, too often they’re right.”

Maybe it’s time we tried another approach than what the teachers union offers every year?

21 Comments to “Teachers Sought by Union to Oppose Evaluations”

  1. Lew, Well stated, agree big time!!! Our High School drop out rate is 30% and our kids are not getting the education and training skillsthey need to get jobs!!!

    Chuck Miller, Director Washington Citizens for Responsible GovernmentCamas, WA. 98607

    From: Clark County Conservative >To: wcfrg@att.net >Sent: Tuesday, March 4, 2014 10:08 PM >Subject: [New post] Teachers Sought to Oppose Evaluations > >lewwaters posted: “Amazing the steps the teachers union apparently will take to fight basing teacher evaluations on student test scores. Following is a full email sent to me that is claimed to have been sent out to all members of the WEA, along with the request to not reply” >

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  2. Tying teacher evaluations to student performance on standardized tests is asinine. Why? Here’s how I attempted to explain it to Sen. Rivers:

    Senator Rivers,

    I’m writing to you today with the hopes that you will withdraw your support of SB 5246. I realize there is a tremendous amount of pressure from multiple sources on state governments to increase teacher accountability, but you need to know that this is not the right direction. My wife Jane and I have been professional educators for the past 14 years. We, along with our seasoned colleagues, have the best understanding of what it takes to education children in the 21st century. We know first-hand what happens in a classroom on a daily basis and how diverse the students are that we teach. That diversity is not limited to race, but extends much further to learning styles, learning abilities, socio-economic status, and much more. Our students cannot be conveniently placed into a pre-packaged, one-size-fits-all box of standardized tests and state assessments. And yet, SB 5246 is designed to do just that by forcing teachers to make a choice between facilitating a learning environment for all the students in their classes, and teaching students how to pass a state assessment. It’s wrong and it is doing a disservice to our students’ and their potential.

    By tying teacher evaluations and by extension employment status to student test scores, you are tying teacher effectiveness directly to the assessment itself while ignoring the inherent flaws of that assessment. Students only spend 4-5 days out of a 180 day school year on the state assessment. It is a tiny snap-shot in a long school year that can be effected by an endless number of internal and external variables. Jane works at Covington Middle School. That school’s student population is made up of over 60% who qualified for free and reduced lunch. In addition, they have over a 25% mobility rate—meaning during the course of that 180 school year more than 25% of the students they start the year with will be gone and replaced by a new 25%. I’m not sure our elected officials fully understand the impact those very real facts have on the learning environment, nor do they understand the reasons behind it. Students, like many of those at Covington, live in households with broken families. They move from apartment to apartment multiple times a year because their parents are getting evicted. Many of them are raising their younger siblings because their parents are incapable of doing it and then they come to school and are expected to perform to a very high standard. All of those external variables have an impact on a student’s ability to perform. When they happen to occur during that very small testing window of the school year, then we are not getting a true measure of student progress and ability.

    If you truly want to see more teacher accountability and an increase in student performance, there are multiple other target areas that you should be addressing:
    1. –Teacher Preparation – Increase the accountability and rigor of our state university teacher prep programs so that we have a pool of new teacher hires that are truly ready and prepped for the reality of the classroom. Those candidates need so much more than content area expertise. They need more time in the actual classroom during their training. They need more practical experience and training in classroom management.

    2. –Administrators – Our principals need both the professional development and ability to weed out new teachers that have no business in the business. They need the training to know what to look for and how to deal with it. Additionally, they need the teeth to actually do something about it. Pass legislation to fund that professional development and strip away the ridiculous union protections those new teachers are afforded.

    3. –High Stakes Testing – Pass legislation that will sunset the current and outdated model of high stakes and/or standardized assessment and allow the professional educators and administrators design an authentic assessment that measures student growth over time and allows for the least amount of impact by those internal/external variables I mentioned earlier.

    4. –Economy – In order to have more students who are academically successful we need to strengthen the family and home. We need to create an economic environment in our state that provides families the opportunities they need to break the generational cycle of poverty. Teachers can’t do it all. They need a strong family environment that values education and supports the learning environment at school.

    Once again I urge you in the strongest possible way to withdraw your support for this bill and encourage your colleagues in the Senate to do the same. It absolutely will not produce the results you are looking for. In fact, just the opposite is true as it will be one more thing that pushes the great teachers over the edge and into another career.

    Frank Decker

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  3. Uh, don’t the older tenured teachers receive far more union protection than new teachers do?

    I notice the absence of any call for a means to hold those who have been teaching so long that they have lost their zeal for teaching kids and are only there to draw a paycheck and benefits.

    I fail to see where newly hired teachers, who most often have the most zeal for reaching young minds, are the ones receiving all of the union protection. Especially since we all know that when it comes to layoffs, union contracts call for those with the least seniority to go first.

    As we saw in Wisconsin a couple years ago, when they were trying to recall Governor walker, teachers faced layoffs and the young teacher chosen teacher of the year would have been one of the first to be laid off since she had the least seniority.

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  4. Come on, Lew. The stereotype of the seasoned teachers is beneath you. Do you feel like you’re a little wiser and smarter than you were when you were 22? Do years of practice make a doctor less qualified than one right out of med school? Do you prefer flying with a pilot on their first commercial flight after having be licensed, or with one who has logged some hours?

    Besides, what does tenure or anything thing in your reply have to do specifically with basing teacher evaluations on student achievement on standardized tests? You speak as if there is no accountability already built into the system. It’s ridiculous. You using generalities and making assumptions here that have no basis in reality.

    The data show that the students who do the best in school are those that have solid support and structure at home. Those are more often than not in homes that are more affluent. Can a teacher control that? Can a teacher control whether or not a student is from a broken home, an alcoholic or drug addicted home, a home with no home at all? When teacher evaluations are based on student performance, the inevitable result is that those teachers in schools with the highest poverty rates are going to either migrate to the more affluent schools to keep their jobs, or they are going to change careers. Who will be left to teach those kids, Lew? The quality teachers or the mediocre? Is that a plan that will increase graduation rates or lower them you think? And when the whole thing goes to hell in a hand basket, who are you going to blame then? Teachers?

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  5. Frank, you’re honestly trying to claim that newly hired union teachers aren’t the first to go under layoffs and that seniority means nothing to the teachers union?

    This isn’t about the home, Frank, we all agree those kids do better. But would you legislate home life to accomplish that?

    I know of a few teachers too, Frank.

    As far as what does my comment have to do with the evaluation, about as much as half of your claim.

    So, as some of us repeatedly say, if you can’t handle the job or being held accountable by taxpayers, seek other employment.

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  6. Lew, I consider you a fairly smart guy so try and keep up 😉 I’m not trying to claim anything with regards to tenure. What I plainly stated was that this argument over teacher evaluations being tied to student performance on standardized testing has nothing to do with tenure. And yes, this is absolutely about the home. How you cannot recognize that is beyond me. Of course I’m not in favor of legislating what happens in the home, any more than I am trying to legislate student performance, student behavior, or teacher effectiveness for that matter. The two are equally invasive and unconstitutional as far as I’m concerned. But let me back up the claim that this has nothing to do with tenure and a lot to do with the home with some simple to follow logic.

    The premise of any legislation to tie teacher evaluations to student performance is, at least on the surface, rooted in the notion of increasing teacher accountability. It is a flawed premise right from the very beginning and here’s why. Student performance or achievement, at least as far as the state and the fed is concerned is determined by performance on a single standardized test. In WA right now that is the MSP. This test is administered in a 4-5 day period out of 180 actual school days. The dates the test is administered is determined by the state and with just a week or two window exception, is out of the control of districts, teachers, and students. Consider the undeniable fact that in that short period of time—a mere fraction of the overall school year—that there are quite literally thousands of variables that can and do effect how that student will perform on that test. Is the student feeling ill, did they have a sleepless night because mom and dad were fighting, are they homeless, and the list goes on. Then consider that of all those thousands of possible variables, not a single one is in the scope of control of the classroom teacher. Consider the assessment itself? This assessment is the only measure of student performance being used (proposed use) to evaluate a teacher’s effectiveness. Isn’t it prudent to ensure the assessment tool itself is valid? Consider Common Core and the SmarterBalanced assessment that it is associated with and will replace the MSP next year. Are you aware that teachers have not control over the implementation of Common Core or that new assessment tool? Are you aware that any teacher who has seen the sample tests will tell you that the assessment is grade level inappropriate at any K-12 level? Do you understand that student performance assessment scores are going to completely tank next year because the tool is flawed? And back to the home aspect associated with this issue. As I mentioned earlier, the data show that students who have higher academic achievement success are from the affluent homes where there is a strong structure and support dynamic. Is a teacher now shouldering the responsibility of the socio-economic status of their students and their parents/guardians? All of the examples I’ve listed here are comprised of things that are completely out of the teacher’s scope of control.

    Now ask yourself, would you support legislation that stack-ranked and evaluated doctors based on health of their patients? Can a doctor control whether or not I take my high blood pressure medication? Can a doctor control whether or not their patients follow a healthy diet and exercise? Can a doctor control it when the FDA approves a drug, they prescribe it, and that drug eventually leads to the death or serious injury of the patients? Or what about the farmer, should we pass legislation that evaluates them based on their outcome crop? Can a farmer control the weather? Can a farmer stop a draught or keep crops from freezing in a late winter?

    There are problems in the public education system. The unions do have too much power. Quality younger teachers being RIF’d when a tenured poor teacher keeps their job is absolutely a problem. And like any profession, there are a majority of good employees and statistically 5% of bad employees. However, what is before the state legislature right now isn’t legislation designed to fix all or any of these problems. What’s before them is legislation that will absolutely not improve teaching practice, student achievement, or make a single teacher more accountable. What’s before them amounts to nothing more that legislation whose only purpose is to capitulate to the ransom demands of Arne Duncan and the Federal government.

    The state legislature is going to have to make a choice. Are they going to cave to ridiculous and asinine demands of a federal government that has no Constitutional mandate to be in the education to begin with, or are they going take a stand for state rights and local control over public education, which includes meeting their state constitutional core mandate of fully funding basic education. And you’re going to have to make a choice as well, Lew. Are you going to play into the stereotyping and the emotionally charged us vs the unions game so popular among my fellow conservatives, or are you going to take an intellectually honest position on this issue by looking at the facts, the data, and apply an objective, logic-based approach to your analysis. In both cases I hope for the latter.

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  7. Frank, I’ll say this one time and one time only to you. Condescending remarks to me is not conducive to your ability to comment here. I realize that is a favorite tactic of Ron Paulies, but it doesn’t wash with me.

    You have yet to explain as to why you teachers should not be evaluated like everybody else, by the outcome of your performance. Instead, you throw out probabilities to excuse poor performance by students not being the responsibility of the teacher.

    Teaching is a job, like any other. And if a person is not performing adequately in that job, why should they receive protection to remain on the taxpayers dime?

    Allow me to tell you a little story from many years ago. A guy went to school, wanted to drop out because his home life really sucked. An abusive mother and a drunk father in a roach infested shanty of a house was what he had to look forward to. He received the same education as did the other kids who had much better lives. He curried no favors, had no teachers making excuses and ended up graduating with average grades. Nearly every class he had contained 30 or more students.

    He went in the Army a few years later, married and had a couple of children of his own. After 8 years in the Army, he took some college courses and held a pretty decent GPA, again with no excuses being made.

    One of the best things that ever happened to him was his 10th Grade World History teacher who inspired him to not let a miserable home life hold him back.

    As for doctors, I would support legislation on them for holding them more accountable to patients that died or remained critically ill. In fact, we already have such a system established in malpractice suits. We do not have anything similar with teachers, do we?

    Unbeknownst to you, Frank, I have experience with teachers who feel they have the right to tell me how to run my household and took every chance to interfere, file bogus CPS reports and be complete assholes. They succeeded and empowered step kids I had years ago.

    After raising two children of my own, I took on step kids and my how times had changed.

    To make a long story short, my two natural children are grown, have families and are productive citizens.

    As for the step kids, one is currently trying to call me collect from some correctional facility in Hawaii.

    As for being emotionally charged, I suggest you review your own postings. I do find it strange for a “conservative” to be so supportive of a “liberal union” position.

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  8. Well, Lew, if you want to ban me from posting that would of course be up to you. I can’t control what offends you or what you define as “condescending”. As to your last comment, I was under the impression from previous conversations that you had already determined I wasn’t a real “conservative” anyway, so that’s sort of a moot point, isn’t it?

    As far as the subject at hand, if you aren’t willing to look at the issue objectively, then not much anyone one can do there. As long a person is stuck in the cycle of despising the teachers unions so much that it clouds their judgement with regards to the actual teachers, then it will be very difficult to look at any educational issue objectively.

    Ever wonder why 2/3’s of teachers are democrats? Perhaps it is the constant barrage of anti-teacher rhetoric and the marginalization of conservative educators that keep them from the conservative platform and/or the Republican party. Just a theory 🙂

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  9. Frank, you and you alone have control over your condescension.

    The rest of your comment will just remain. Good luck with that 2/3 and the new R3publicans.

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  10. Here’s my line for teachers:

    If you don’t like the high pay, the only to dream for benefits, the conditions within which you have to work, including class size, or the standards we impose to measure your effectiveness….

    … then quit. We won’t miss you, and the next time you pick a career, find out what the requirements are FIRST… since that way, you won’t look like a sniveling, whiny, idiot when you complain about it.

    My message for Sen. Rivers, who is my Senator representing me, is that unless or until the WEA comes up with a better idea, a plan that actually works, then feel free to stuff this one down their throats.

    But oh, my God am I sick of the monumental bitching, whining and complaining of teachers.

    Don’t like the job?

    Then go pump gas for a living.

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  11. You two crack me up. Looks like Kelly has a waiver on the condescension rule. Perhaps it’s because he is a “real conservative”, who knows. I’ll leave you both to your evening of pontification. I’ve got a meeting to do some planning on executing some hands-on work in this county in order to defeat the progressives.

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  12. Whined like a regular Paulie.

    But you go ahead and keep your meeting. I’m sure you have all of the answers.

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  13. I do need to thank you, Frank. I supported your effort for city council, fully knowing how popular Anne was, even among Republicans. Still, I wrote in support of you and don’t recall ever speaking against you.

    But I have written in opposition to Ron Paul, done so for many years now.

    I guess that is what it took for you to make your slur against me at Poletti’s, I don’t know.

    You have now shown me that perhaps I should decline to support any candidates that I do not know personally.

    You have opened my eyes, Frank.

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  14. Well, that’s disappointing, Lew. I appreciated your positive support of my campaign. I guess I didn’t realize then and until now that a caveat of your support was a candidate had to agree with you on all issues. You don’t think I didn’t know about your long-standing disgust of Ron Paul when I contacted you for a meeting during the campaign? Personally, I don’t operate on a all-or nothing approach like that. As a secular conservative that caucused for Paul, if I did operate that way I wouldn’t have the good working relationships with other conservatives that I do and who prefer to focus on common ground issues.

    If, as conservatives, we can’t disagree on specific issues, have the guts to call each other out when appropriate, and to debate amongst ourselves objectively, then what are we?

    As to your “slur against me at Poletti’s”, I’d be interested in knowing what you are referencing there.

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  15. Get off the self pity, Frank.

    Does “And those bloggers you mention? Well, the reality is for KJ and Lew no one is ever going to be good enough. I guess there are those that talk (blog) and those that walk” ring a bell?

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  16. Ah, that statement. Yup, rings a bell. Admittedly, the second half of that statement was over the top. You have my official apology for that. I’d explain what that prompted that over the top response, but honestly I’ve had my fill of the pity/whining accusations for one day.

    I stick by the first part of that statement, however. You and Kelly both (Kelly more so) set your criteria very high–too high in my opinion. But that’s my personal opinion and/or perception.

    In any event, this thread for me has probably run it’s course. I’ve made a very rational, fact-based argument against legislation. I welcome any rebuttal and debate that is objective, rational, and fact-based as well.

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  17. I appreciate the insight into the new R3publican party.

    Since my standards are so high no one can reach them, be sure to let your friends know that is why they will not be supported here.

    The only objective, rational, and fact-based rebuttal needed is, if you can’t handle the position, find another.

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  18. Sigh. Lew, I don’t what you mean by “the new R3publican party”, but I want to make a final comment on this thread by saying I don’t claim to represent anyone or any group with my comments here except myself. Whatever blanket representation you apply is on you, not me. Have a good one.

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  19. There was nothing “condescending” about it. That’s ALWAYS been my message… and the response is that the sorry state of education and our horrific drop out rate has nothing to do with the unions or the teachers (It’s always the students and the parent’s fault) and the money grubbing is always for “the kids.”

    We spend billions on education in this state, and it’s NEVER enough. No matter HOW much teachers got paid, it would never be enough. No matter WHAT program was developed to actually evaluate teachers, the union would object to it.

    Well, I’m heartily sick of that.

    As I said: I support the current plan. if the union can come up with something better, then they should feel free. But they won’t… they’ll just say “no,” cross their respective arms… and pout… just like they always have.

    Because “accountability” is nowhere in their vocabulary. And until the unions and teachers BECOME as concerned about accountability as those of us paying their bills, then I will oppose them at every step of the way.

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  20. I have been trying to further my education for some time now. I came from poverty, I am not whining just being factual. I have always had great grades as a child, along with my free lunch program. I have as an adult taken classes with tenured teachers that just do not care about anything. There really is no way to determine the good from the bad. You can try researching them, look at ratemyprofessor.com for you teacher. The tenured that don’t care, all I can say is God help you. I am in the process of retaking a class now because I had a teacher that left us emails very much like the wordy comments above, telling we students not to expect replies back in a timely manner, because our teacher has a real life. When he could have been creating videos (online class) answering questions, and being helpful. I will retake this same class because I found a teacher that LOVES to teach that will be available in the Spring. I took her before, when I flunked Algebra, with worse than a F, but with her I received a B+. There is a huge difference in teachers, and there are some great adjunct teachers. Not as many tenured though. You know you have a great teacher when he/she says they teach because they live to see that look on the face when the light bulb comes on and the student says ahhh, I do understand now.
    Until the educational system is overhauled by the government, America will continue to be dumbed down. Teachers need to be accountable for doing their jobs, just like the rest of us.

    Oh yeah, no buzz words in my comment. Buzz words like “Constitution”.

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  21. Frank’s arguments make a lot of sense to me. I almost fell off my chair though at his comment “The unions do have too much power”…never thought I’d hear a PEU member say that. The sad fact is that teacher unions do more harm than good in that they’re focused on the needs and wishes of the union member rather than on quality of education or what is good for the student.

    Performance evaluation is an important tool, but I think one test in which there are so many variables that the teacher has no control over is a poor method of evaluation. I’d not like to be evaluated on one project per year in which the client demands kept changing, I had problems with the tools I use, or others I depended on for pieces of code didn’t perform their tasks.

    Perhaps another way to judge performance would be to let the students and parents evaluate the teacher. At the end of the year send out questionairres to parents asking them to evaluate the teachers effectiveness. Of course, that should be only one of several factors used to determine performance.

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