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Monday, July 4, 2011

Senate Bill 736, really bad or absolutely terrible?

From Scathing Purple Musings

by Bob Sykes

So says American Enterprise Institute education policy expert Rick Hess:

I’ll bet right now that SB 736 is going to be a train wreck. Mandatory terminations will force some good teachers out of good schools because of predictable statistical fluctuations, and parents will be livid. Questions about cheating will rear their ugly head. A thrown-together growth model and rapidly generated tests, pursued with scarce resources and under a new Commissioner, are going to be predictably half-baked and prone to problems. All of this will fuel Florida Education Association complaints that there’s no possible, workable, equitable way to make teacher pay and evaluation more performance based.

Hess, who doesn’t have a problem with differentiated pay scales or as he describes, “value-added metrics,” further criticizes the political spirit and legislative intent behind SB736.

SB 736 continues the disconcerting habit of imagining that policymakers in a state capital can “fix” schooling through complex mandates. Rather than create the tools and opportunities for districts and schools to do better, and then hold them accountable for doing so, well-intentioned legislators have voted to replace the old credential-and-paper micromanagement with mandates that rely way too heavily on test scores of uncertain reliability, validity, or import. By setting one-size-fits-all prescriptions that apply to every teacher in every school in the state, SB 736 manages to emulate best practices in the pay of encyclopedia and aluminum siding salesmen circa 1951.

Hess is talking about door-to-door salesman at that. The greatest Fuller Brush salesman in the world isn’t going into a neighborhood where nobody’s going to come to the door when he knocks. Neither will he go into any poor neighborhoods. The option not to serve poor children doesn’t exist for Florida’s educators. SB 736 will make that even more difficult than it is now.

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