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August 04, 2009
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The Ohio Senate just released its version of the state's biennial budget. The Senate deserves much credit for the plethora of charter school provisions it deleted from the Houses' version (which as you probably know by now, Fordham and many others across the state opposed).
But even the removal of provisions that would have dramatically weakened charter quality and accountability can't make up for the fact that the Senate removed all of the excellent teacher personnel language in HB 153.
Fordham's Terry Ryan testified yesterday afternoon to the Ohio Senate Finance Committee to express our collective disappointment and implore lawmakers to prioritize policies to improve teacher effectiveness. ?
He described what's at stake by removing this language:
For as long as anyone can remember, in Ohio as in the rest of America, a public-school teacher's effectiveness and performance in the classroom have had little to no impact on decisions about whether she is retained by her district or laid off, how she is compensated or assigned to a district's schools, or how her professional development is crafted. Instead, all of these critical decisions are made on the basis of quality-blind state policies, like the notorious ?last-in, first-out? mandate governing lay-offs, and tenure rules that allow teachers to have job protection for life and ?bump? less senior teachers when jockeying for positions. Effective teachers are forced to go simply because they have not taught as long as others, regardless of how successful (or not) other teachers might be, students are left with whichever instructors have been in the system the longest, and teachers receive professional development that is not tied at all to their individual improvement needs.
To their credit, Governor Kasich and the Ohio House have been trying to transform the system by which the state handles these crucial teacher HR decisions. The biennial budget bill passed by the House assigns classroom effectiveness a key role in determining how teachers are assigned to schools, whether their contracts are renewed, and ? when budgets make it unavoidable ? how they are laid off. It would put in place a teacher evaluation system that incorporates student academic growth and several other key job-related performance factors and would rate teachers according to four tiers. Basic personnel decisions around tenure, placement, dismissal, and professional development would be tied directly to the evaluation results.
Unfortunately, however, the Senate has dropped all of these provisions from its version of the budget, preferring instead to maintain Ohio's status as a laggard state with archaic laws that force school districts to consider only seniority when making teacher layoff decisions.
Fordham genuinely hopes that the Ohio Senate will reconsider its move away from performance-based policies for teachers.?
- Jamie Davies O'Leary