Saturday, February 26, 2011

Clarification Needed

Whenever a group of legislators attempts to “fast-track” a bill we should all question why. I know that some people feel this is to ease budget problems. But I think this bill has implications beyond the budget that need to be considered. I support fiscal responsibility. Adjusting compensation to current market conditions only makes sense. Specifically, adjustments to retirement benefits and salaries have been made in many cases across the state. That is certainly part of the answer to the budget problems. Ohio Senate Bill 5 does more than that, however. The implication of it is that it will change the ways schools operate and how administration officials relate to employees. Those changes could potentially be good or they could potentially be very bad. My concern is that those changes are not even specified to determine whether they will be effective or ineffective. Whatever measures are used to determine compensation, will determine the focus of teachers and administrators. I want to know who is in charge of determining of those measures. And I want to know what those measures are. If they are simply going to try to rely on state standardized tests, I have a problem with that. This will have a chilling effect on creativity, collaboration, innovation, discussion, and a variety of other valuable educational activities. It may give us some idea of student achievement, but I don’t think it gives us a valid and reliable measure of teacher quality, teacher performance and teacher effectiveness. I cannot support something blindly without knowing what I am supporting. The current system at least provides structure and everybody knows it. Replacing it with the word “merit” and something about the Department of Administration Services and not filling in the details is not enough for me.