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Politicians and other things that make me cranky…

October 4, 2010

My writing of late has been sidelined by the fact that I find myself in the midst of some  professionally-related dramas that I can’t properly discuss without most likely revealing my true identity. Suffice it to say that there are many distractions from planning engaging instruction and implementing lessons, interactions, observations, and assessments in my classroom.  In the midst of it all, I got an e-mail that really annoyed me.  If you’ve been following the current trends regarding education and what many politicians are saying, you’re probably a little cranky too. Chris Romer is the guy I’m annoyed with today, after he sent me a cute little e-mail “Grab ’em while they’re hot” regarding yard signs being available for his candidacy.  Yes, okay, but how did he get my e-mail address?

Here’s how: Back in April, I sent Colorado politicians letters, urging them not to push SB 191 through.  I explained that I am a teacher and a mother of public school students and that while I agree that we need to take steps to make policy changes and address teacher effectiveness and evaluation, we need to first adequately (and legally) define “effective teaching “, before implementing a bill that seeks to terminate “ineffective” teachers. I mentioned that the governor and some of the urban districts are already taking steps to do so. I also said something about it being ill-advised to rush into a plan apparently in order to gain “Race to the Top” funds–which Colorado ultimately did not receive.  I further tried to clarify the talk about “tenure” in Colorado, explaining that teachers deemed ineffective (whether fairly or not) can and have been terminated in the state of Colorado, but that I have concerns about further damaging teachers’ rights to due process. I ended by thanking him for his thoughtful consideration of the matter.  Romer’s reply, which to be fair was the only one I received from the many senators and representatives I wrote, stated in part that while he respects my role as an educator, and he understands the complexity of reform, and that we share common goals of student achievement, he had nonetheless gone ahead and voted for the stupid bill.

One of the trickiest little bits of the bill is a part that deals with mutual consent hiring.  Apparently, any employees who lose their jobs (and at this time of year we’re mainly talking about reductions due to low numbers)  are in jeopardy if they do not find a job through ‘mutual consent’.  If a teacher with a contract but no job goes looking for jobs and does not find one without being directly placed, he/she, as I understand it, will need to look for another job for the following year.  However, if again the search does not yield the right job, it appears that said person will then be considered damaged goods.  Here’s an explanation from a June 11th article written by Ed Crets and posted on edReformer.com

Eliminates the practice of forced teacher placement (slotting teachers in schools without their or the principal’s consent) and replaces it with mutual consent hiring using the Chicago model (principals and teachers must agree to teacher placements and teachers who are not selected serve as substitutes for a year and, if not selected in the subsequent hiring cycle, are put on unpaid leave).

I happen to know some skilled, experienced teachers who have found themselves in just such a situation so I know that not finding a job that’s the right fit during hiring rounds is not an automatic indication that a teacher is not qualified.  But it frightens me to think that any teacher in Colorado could be in that boat.  So, no, Chris Romer, I won’t be putting up one of your yard signs and I’d really rather you hadn’t used my e-mail to solicit my support since you really didn’t come through for me or my fellow teachers.  Wait, maybe I could find a silver lining here. Halloween is coming up, maybe I should have a teachers-only party and scare the pants off people by decorating the lawn with campaign signs for all the pols who voted for SB 191.  Boo!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 5, 2010 6:19 pm

    Mariasallee: I LOVE everything you are saying and doing! Your frustration is EXACTLY why I got together with a group of national political experts and started The VIVA Project (Vision Idea Voice Action) http://www.vivausa.vivateachers.org We’re working directly with Secretary Duncan’s staff to give him the real picture from the classroom, directly from teachers’ experience. We’ve invited teachers from anywhere in the country (you included!) to sign on and share their ideas with fellow teachers. The difference is, we give you the ability to work together (on line, any time that works for you) and a moderator who is there to help you connect with other like-minded teachers. Soon, this hot bed of great ideas will be written up by a sub committee of the full group, with the full group’s input. Then, the report will be delivered to Sec. Duncan, in person. We can set up the same process for teachers in any state. PLEASE JOIN THIS FIRST OF ITS KIND CONVERSATION AND SHARE YOUR IDEAS WITH SEC. DUNCAN–he needs to hear from you.

  2. mariasallee permalink*
    October 6, 2010 6:59 am

    Thank you for the comment and the information, Elizabeth! I will certainly take a look at what you’re doing with the VIVA Project, it sounds like a great way for teachers to pool our resources.

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