Connecticut Teacher's Union Calls For Tenure Reform

Connecticut’s largest teachers union staked out its position Tuesday on two issues that are likely to be hotly debated when the legislature convenes next month: teacher evaluations and tenure, according to the Hartford Courant.
January 4, 2012
 

Connecticut’s largest teachers union staked out its position Tuesday on two issues that are likely to be hotly debated when the legislature convenes next month: teacher evaluations and tenure, according to the Hartford Courant.

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday, Mary Loftus Levine, executive director of the Connecticut Education Association, said every teacher should be evaluated every year based on multiple factors — not just students' scores on standardized tests, the Courant reported.

"Our mission is to make sure schools have the best teachers and the schools have the resources they need to be successful for all students," Levine said.

The union's recommended reforms on tenure and evaluations were discussed last year but went nowhere in a session of tough budget negotiations. The CEA, which represents more than 43,000 teachers, announced its proposal just days before Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s workshop summit on education, planned for Thursday.

Entitled "A View from the Classroom," the proposal ranges from ensuring that children arrive in kindergarten ready to learn to transforming chronically low-performing schools and enhancing parent and community involvement in schools, the Courant reported.

In addition to their students' performance, teachers' evaluations also should consider their classroom planning and management, interaction with peers, professional learning and mentoring, Loftus Levine told the Courant. "We think everything should count." If a teacher is under-performing, she said, training and support would be provided. Then, if a teacher didn't improve after a period of time — not more than a year, Levine said — dismissal proceedings would begin.

The timeline would be reduced from 120 to 85 days or perhaps even less, and only one arbitrator, rather than up to three, would be required.

"We think that this will provide due process," Levine said. "We are not getting rid of due process."

Patrick Riccards, chief executive officer of ConnCAN, a non-profit education reform group, praised the union for showing leadership and recognizing that the status quo will not stand. In the past, he said, it seemed "that teachers' unions would fight to keep any teacher regardless of their effectiveness." But Riccards told the Courant the union seems to de-emphasize test scores too much.

"I definitely agree they should have multiple measures," Riccards said, but "the most effective way to gauge educator effectiveness is on the outcome."

The governor's spokesman, Andrew Doba, said in an e-mail to the Courant that the CEA's announcement "conveys their clear interest in being an important part of the conversation about how, not if, to fix what's broken in our schools."

A copy of the plan is available at cea.org/viewfromclassroom.

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