Education Reform Sides Shifting?

One of the more contentious pieces of legislation passed in last year’s session of the Colorado Assembly was an ambitious education reform plan, Senate Bill 191, the “Great Teachers and Leaders” bill. Passed in the hope that it would make the state better prepared to receive competitive “Race to the Top” federal funds, the bill split Democrats between reform-minded legislators and supporters of teachers, who didn’t believe that the bill had the right targets or motivations–not to mention the dire state of education funding in Colorado. And Colorado, for a host of Byzantine reasons, didn’t get the extra federal money regardless.

But SB-191’s teacher effectiveness standards are still the law, and all parties have moved on to implementation–recommendations from a study committee are expected this spring. And this is where the sides seem to have changed a little according to sources: the Colorado Education Association is now said to be in general agreement with the principal backer of SB-191, Sen. Michael Johnston, on the details of implementing a teacher evaluation system. Johnston and the CEA are reportedly increasingly at odds with the Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE) and the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB), with the dispute essentially boiling down to a strong statewide standard for evaluations, which Johnston and the CEA prefer, versus a potentially much weaker “local standards” based system that CASE, CASB, and traditional right-leaning education reform groups favor.

What sources say today is the objections from teachers were not to a standards-based system for tenure and evaluation of teachers in the abstract, but trying to ensure that standards were administered fairly and consistently–and adequately funded. Now that the process has moved on to implementation, it’s important to understand how these former adversaries now have pretty closely aligned goals. To be distinguished from the old-school public education antagonists who also supported SB-191, but in the end for very different reasons than Sen. Johnston.

14 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. redstateblues says:

    Johnston and the CEA working together on the implementation of this law is great news. Although I am still very much against the spirit with which this law was written and passed, I’m hopeful that getting the major stakeholders together to work out how it’s going to affect the education system will be a step in the right direction.

    I only wish that there had been this kind of attitude when the bill was originally drafted and debated.

    • JeffcoBlueJeffcoBlue says:

      And even though I opposed 191, this doesn’t surprise me. Sen. Johnston has a different perspective but he is no charterizer/voucherfyer who needs to burn in hell.

      (first one to catch my reference gets a prize)

      • Gray in the mountains says:

        Michael Merrifield.

        And, El Paso County, Colorado Springs and the rest of Colorado will suffer for not having him anywhere in government.

      • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

        I think I was the only person there who’s kids went to regular public school. Everyone else had their kids in charter schools.

        I think charter schools are good. And I’m open to vouchers where the schools suck. But I also support regular public schools and hope to see all of them excel.

  2. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    That CASE just wanted a way to abolish tenure without being held accountable themselves or being required to implement an effective system.

    Put me on the side of CEA – let’s create a really good system and hold all parties accountable to that system.

  3. jpsandscl says:

    “To be distinguished from the old-school public education antagonists who also supported SB-191, but in the end for very different reasons than Sen. Johnston.”

    So, could Johnston have been played by these forces? I guess time will tell.

    Still working on my diary. It better be a damned beaut, it’s taking me so long!

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