I’ve given SB 191 a fair hearing. I’ve met with proponents in the legislature to hear their arguments. And, although I do believe that many supporters sincerely believe 191 will improve student outcomes, I’m entirely unpersuaded by their arguments.
Proponents argue that the quality of teaching is the primary factor that leads to greater student achievement. I don’t doubt that. But I don’t believe that 191, alone, will drastically improve teaching or, in turn, student outcomes.
It’s clear that 191 is intended primarily as a tool to get rid of teachers who are failing to perform. There is nothing in 191 to incentivize teachers, provide for more professional development, or provide teachers with additional resources or changed environments. So to believe that 191, alone, will improve teaching requires me to believe that simply replacing some bad teachers, whatever percentage that is, is enough to improve schools. And I just don’t believe that.
Some supporters of 191 admit that we need much greater funding for public education in Colorado (we rank near the bottom of all states currently in spending). And those same people claim that there is support even among Republicans for a ballot issue that would do just that. Believing that passing 191 will generate Republican support for a ballot issue raising taxes to expand education funding is naive.
If 191 were part of a broader set of education reforms, I might be more persuaded that it will help lead to better schools. But that isn’t the case. And I can’t support it. Teachers, and students, deserve better.