Kudos to Colorado
I recently attended an education forum that had, as one of the speakers, a Senator from Colorado, who had been a 9th grade English teacher, moved up the ranks to Principal of an alternative school, and eventually ventured into politics. I have no idea how old he is, I would guess mid 30’s. Apparently, he was rather a key figure in some education bills that have been passed in his state. I was quite impressed by his presentation and am going to mention some of, what I consider, the terrific ideas.
So, let me start out by saying I am recounting this from my memory and my understanding of what he said. I imagine someone else in the room may have understood it a little differently, so please don’t take this as 100% accurate. This is to the best of my recollection.
Colorado is only hiring, and retaining teachers who make a difference. YEA! I worked in the public school system for 14 years, and I am in no way “dissing” teachers. Let’s face it though – we all know a teacher who is just putting in their time. (The ones who used to be great, but are just plain tired of it and hanging on until retirement.) Thankfully, or maybe hopefully is the right word, those teachers are not the norm, but you know they exist.
Okay, back to Colorado… they have done away with teacher tenure and did not “grandfather” anyone in. They are basing teacher employment on teacher outcome. They have a great system in place to evaluate teachers and if the teacher is producing successful students, the teacher stays. If the teacher, after two years, is not producing successful students, they are assisted and if no improvement is shown, they are not rehired the following year.
There are meticulous monitoring systems in place to follow student’s success closely and be able to know if a student is understanding the lessons or not. Teachers are evaluated based on student success – AND principals are evaluated based on teacher success. Everyone wins when the students are successful. After three years of successful teaching, that teacher is given incentives and some sort of job security, but remember, it’s not for life. They have to continue to achieve to maintain the job security. If they have those two years in a row of unsuccessful results, the job security perks are revoked.
There’s a lot more to it, but I believe that is how it goes, in a nutshell. I, personally, think it sounds like a terrific system! I think North Carolina is considering something similar and I applaud that. I have not been here long, but any school system that puts the kids first is on the right track. Successful students make for a successful future – for all of us.
The link to the forum is currently at http://www.wral.com/news/video/11178981/#/vid11178981 you can watch the entire presentation, with all of the speakers. I’m not sure how long it will be a valid link, so if you’re interested, check it out soon.
(PS. I walk by at 1:24:51 – my 1sec of fame -teehee)