Teacher evaluations suffer setback!

Teacher evaluation hearing
Teacher evaluation hearing in Lansing on April 30, 2014. Photo courtesy of Sarah Perks

Earlier I posted about the hearing on  teacher evaluation (HB 5223, 5224) being held in Lansing today in the House Education Committee chaired by Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons.  A vote was expected today which would have tied student assessment performance to teacher evaluations and further entrench common core in Michigan schools.  The bills suffered a setback, thanks in part to a lobbyist’s email that apparently backfired.  Education Trust-Midwest sent an email to lawmakers demanding a vote today or risk losing our waivers.  Brian Smith at MLive reported on the developments:

“A copy of the email obtained by MLive shows that the message cites an Education Week article from April 29 saying that Michigan’s waiver could be considered “high-risk” because the state does not yet have an evaluation system like the one described in the waiver.”

However, the bills’ two sponsors dispute Education Trust – Midwest claims.

“It’s a bit disturbing to me that I see in my email inbox today that if we don’t pass this legislation, Michigan could lose its waiver,” bill sponsor Rep. Margaret O’Brien (R-Portage) said, referring to the state’s waiver from federal No Child Left Behind requirements. “That is absolutely false.”

Rep. Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor)  who co-sponsored the bills called the email “completely inaccurate”,

“The implication made that the Michigan House of Representatives needs to pass this legislation today or we will lose our ESEA waiver is completely inaccurate and reflects a misunderstanding of what the actual situation is,” Zemke said.”

According to MLive, Rep. Bob Genetski (R-Saugatuck) told the bill sponsors that “bullying and threatening tactics don’t work.”

“I’ve been trying to at least get to neutral on this package, because I do have concerns about cost and other things, but the email from Ed Trust-Midwest did you no favors in trying to get the bill through committee, and bullying and threatening tactics don’t work, neither among strong conservatives nor among strong liberals,”

This is a welcome sign.  Lobbyists are also bullying state lawmakers to continue funding for SBAC.  Their tactics must not prevail.

Michigan cannot afford to let lobbyists drown out our voice with and cede control of education to special interests and DC oversight.  Parents, teachers, and concerned citizens must speak up!   Contact your lawmakers and tell them you do not support teacher evaluations tied to student assessments or the continued funding of SBAC.