Governor: We sought teacher input, but a strong RTTT application is more important than widespread buy-in

I will follow the second-to-the-last day of the Legislature today when Senate Bill 521 is expected to come up for a vote. I have been told that lawmakers have received hundreds of e-mails in opposition to the concept of using student progress to measure teacher effectiveness, but I also know that the governor believes this bill is important to deliver a message to Washington and the Race to the Top evaluators that Georgia is serious about school reform. (Here is a good AJC story on today’s crucial vote.)

The governor’s spokesman sent me these links this morning to give context to why a performance-driven evaluation of teachers is vital and why a diluted compromise that placates teachers is not in Georgia’s best interest.

According to the e-mail that Bert Brantley, spokesman for Gov. Sonny Perdue, shared with me:

I would hope that the EdWeek item below would once and for all answer the question of whether it is better to weaken your Race to the Top application in order to get union buy-in.

Last week, at the Race to the Top workshop in Minnesota, it was even suggested to right-to-work states that a teacher survey is a great way to get teacher input. Which is, of course, what we did, and I have attached the results of that survey to this email because it seems some have forgotten that we actually asked teachers for their input on the front end of the application process.

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/

Duncan on Race to Top: Bold Reform More Crucial Than Buy-In

After staying out of the Race to the Top round-two fray for weeks, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is finally starting to take the gloves off and wade into the middle of a big debate over just how important “buy-in” is in a state’s application.

Although broad collaboration and buy-in should remain a goal, he said, if a state’s proposal is “more consensus but watered-down reform, that’s not going to be a winning application.”

Brantley also cited a Wall Street Journal story in which Duncan said “watered-down proposals with lots of consensus won’t win.”

Keep checking back here for updates on SB 521.

60 comments Add your comment

clueless

April 27th, 2010
11:51 am

Yeah, Duncan knows what works…those latte machines in Chicago schools really increased achievement and reduced school violence, did they not?

Tonya T.

April 27th, 2010
11:55 am

Happy Teacher, where ya’ at? If you still believe the hype about getting teachers to the table, let me have some what you’re sipping.

Arne Duncan is a fool. Strong apps are not worth the paper they are written on if they don’t have the support of the very people needed to implement them.

GA Teach

April 27th, 2010
11:56 am

We will be at the polls in the fall and we will vote anyone out of office that supports this proposal. Be careful that you do not make the largest voting group in Georgia upset. Sonny….has crossed the line and does not care what we think as teachers.

TELL THEM NO

April 27th, 2010
11:59 am

Please contact these legislators and express your views before they vote on SB 521 now including the merit pay framework amendment.

roberta.abdul-salaam@house.ga.gov, staceyabrams@gmail.com, kathyashe@me.com, blackellis@bellsouth.net, tbrooks@legis.state.ga.us, rbruce5347@aol.com, debbie.buckner@house.ga.gov, amy.carter@house.ga.gov, toneycollins95@gmail.com, rickcrawford@bellsouth.net, dee.dawkins-haigler@house.ga.gov, elly.dobbs@house.ga.gov, rondodson@comcast.net, pat.dooley@house.ga.gov, dren16999@aol.com, wdukes_2000@yahoo.com, carl.epps@house.ga.gov, hughfloyd@mindspring.com, vfludd@mindspring.com, gloria.frazier@house.ga.gov, mike.glanton@house.ga.gov, jcraig@statewidehealthcare.com, gerald.greene@house.ga.gov, keith.heard@house.ga.gov, michele.henson@house.ga.gov, segaeducators@gmail.com, wayne.howard@house.ga.gov, carolyn.hugley@house.ga.gov, lynmore.james@house.ga.gov, terry.johnson@house.ga.gov, kevinlevitas@bellsouth.net, ralph@ralphlong.name, repmangham@gmail.com, marinstatehouse@aol.com, barbara.reece@house.ga.gov, rahn.mayo@house.ga.gov, doug@dougmckillip.com, bily.mitchell@house.ga.gov, alisha@alishamorgan.com, mosb7101@hotmail.com, quincy.murphy@house.ga.gov, mmo@mmolaw.com, duboseporter@gmail.com, nikki.randall@house.ga.gov, jay.shaw@house.ga.gov, calvinsmyre@synovus.com, mickey.stephens@gmail.com, pam.stephenson@house.ga.gov, stuckey@mindspring.com, rashadjtaylor@gmail.com, rteilhet@yahoo.com, bwthomas@bellsouth.net, lee.thompson@house.ga.gov, earnest.williams@house.ga.gov, caw@centurytel.net

Teacher 2

April 27th, 2010
12:02 pm

I look forward to the day when Sonny’s people like Brantley, Hames and her husband are gone. Good luck in November finding a job. I am sick of the misrepresentation by these folks when it comes to what teachers want. What a joke.

V for Vendetta

April 27th, 2010
12:03 pm

Wow. So now they’re basically telling us to our faces that they don’t give a damn what we have to say; they’re going to do it anyway. How did we sink so low?

Oh, I know, by voting along party lines and not for the best candidates.

If this isn’t a call to action, I don’t know what is. I think it’s time we make our voices heard in a way that can’t be ignored. Perhaps a march on the capitol is in order. Forget lame “sick outs.” I think we need to do something that sends a message loud and clear. Perhaps a few thousand teachers clustered around the capitol building on workday would send the message. It only works if we work TOGETHER.

This is YOUR job they’re messing with: your MONEY, your FAMILY, and your LIFE. What more will it take before we say enough is enough? Furloughs didn’t do it. Widespread budget cuts didn’t do it. Even massive layoffs didn’t do it. No more words.

It’s time for action.

GA Teach

April 27th, 2010
12:04 pm

Since GEA launched its Merit Pay Action Page yesterday evening, almost an e-mail a minute has been sent to Representatives — thanks to those of you who have taken action!

If you haven’t taken action, visit: http://www.gaedalliance.org/meritaction

If you have already taken action, please spread the word. Keeping the pressure on is critical.

Perdue’s 11th hour push was purposely done, so that education advocacy groups and merit pay opponents would not have enough notice to organize a response.

Together, we can show Perdue that he was wrong!

Kira Willis

April 27th, 2010
12:04 pm

I did the math. 400 million equates to approximately 80 dollars per year per child. What will the mandates cost us? All we are signing up for are the mandates, not the money. PAU, Perdue and Cox; PAU and shame on you.

V for Vendetta

April 27th, 2010
12:04 pm

GA Teach,

Why wait for the polls? Let’s take the power back NOW. We can make it official in the fall.

anon

April 27th, 2010
12:05 pm

In other words “screw what the workers want/need. This is about what -I- want – more money!!”

GA Teach

April 27th, 2010
12:06 pm

Chemistry/Biology Teacher

April 27th, 2010
12:06 pm

If legislators really want to show the government that we are serious about accoutability how about we make the parents of underachieving students pay tuition for any classes that their child fails. Teachers and students are the only people who are accountable in the current environment of education. I have a Master’s degree and I am highly qualified to do my job. My student’s are trying to pass the GHSGT to get a high school diploma. If the student can’t pass I might lose my job,the student won’t graduate and the parents just shrug their shoulders and complain. If you want better schools show the government how the parents will be made accountable for their child’s education in the application.

GA Teach

April 27th, 2010
12:06 pm

Since GEA launched its Merit Pay Action Page yesterday evening, almost an e-mail a minute has been sent to Representatives — thanks to those of you who have taken action!

If you haven’t taken action, visit: http://www.gaedalliance.org/meritaction

GA Teach

April 27th, 2010
12:07 pm

If you haven’t taken action, visit: http://www.gaedalliance.org/meritaction

anon

April 27th, 2010
12:07 pm

I predict a metro Atlanta teacher strike. If I’m wrong, shame on all of you who let yourselves be trampled on.

DeKalb Educated

April 27th, 2010
12:37 pm

When the Gov. Sonny and his “advisors” take a 10% pay cut and rool that money over to the schools, maybe we could believe that he really values education. He is taking his pitiful management of the budget out on the teachers and the schools.They took a survey and decided this is a good thing – they are really out of the loop.

Dee

April 27th, 2010
12:38 pm

“how about we make the parents of underachieving students pay tuition for any classes that their child fails.” Yes. Something like that. How about when a child receives detention or ISP the parent comes in and serves the time right alongside his/her little minion from hell?

majii

April 27th, 2010
12:40 pm

Teachers and many other citizens in FL pressured Governor Crist to veto SB 6. We can do the same with SB 521, but we have got to get mobilized. I’m a retired teacher, but I will stand with teachers who are still on the job because this bill largely ignores teachers who actually have the job of educating students. The majority of the state legislators have never taught for even one day of their lives and have no clue what challenges teachers face everyday they set foot in their classrooms.

anon–The FL teachers didn’t call a strike. They just called in sick on the same day. GA teachers can’t call for a strike because it’s against the law. Teachers are also prohibited by law from joining unions.

The Apple Doesn't Fall

April 27th, 2010
12:42 pm

I think Sonny-Boy is missing the point here – most teachers do not want RTTT!!! At least the ones that I’ve heard voice an opinion. They, for the most part, do not want federal interference in local and state issues, certainly don’t have much faith that anything they can offer will help, and know – with no uncertainty – that the amount of money being offered is only 1-2% of an overall budget.

Teach 7th

April 27th, 2010
12:43 pm

It was very easy to cut and paste all those email addresses into my email and send in my NO vote.
Thank you TELL THEM NO for doing that.
How can we begin merit pay until a test is written to measure success?Even the gov office last week stated that the CRCT is not capable of that….there is more money being spent on test creations and testing that is wasteful!

Just Saying...

April 27th, 2010
12:54 pm

I say all teachers sue the DOE for a breach of contract [furlough days], demand the amount in school funding for the next 30 yrs and takeover the schools LOL.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: Governor: We sought teacher input, but a strong RTTT application is more important than widespread buy-in http://bit.ly/a2Z555 [...]

Attentive Parent

April 27th, 2010
1:16 pm

Apart from their willingness to bind teachers to new terms of employment, Sonny and Kathy Cox are willing to bind Georgia students to controversial and as yet unknown new national standards.

Here’s the link to the Pioneer Institute’s recent “Fair to Middling” report by Sandra Stotsky and Jim Milgram.

http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/100402_fair_to_middling.pdf

Georgia teachers, students, and classrooms have been treated for too long as commodities Georgia politicians can bind or sell off for additional revenue.

That revenue increment is minor compared to the long term costs of the policies being implemented.

Have we learned nothing from PRISM and the math disaster?

Tonya T.

April 27th, 2010
1:40 pm

Attentive Parent:

Nope. Not one dang lesson at all. I don’t know whether it’s sad or shameful.

chuck

April 27th, 2010
1:47 pm

Maureen,
Can you post the link to the survey results that were supposed to be in the email?

Thanks

Maureen Downey

April 27th, 2010
1:53 pm

chuck. I have posted them on the blog before and you can still access the entire survey here:

http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2010/01/25/here-is-the-governors-teacher-survey-results-per-your-requests/

Teacher&mom

April 27th, 2010
2:02 pm

@Teacher 2….I suspect one of the reasons Ms. Hames is working so hard to ensure GA wins RTTT is because she has hopes of securing a high-level position to oversee the GA RTTT mandates. I’m sure the last thing she wants to do is return to the classroom ;)

After creating administrative positions to oversee RTTT, very little money will trickle down to the classroom level. I’m actually kinda glad my contract isn’t due until May 15 because I’m seriously considering leaving the teaching profession.

Kira Willis

April 27th, 2010
2:07 pm

Teacher&mom,
It’s only 80 dollars per student per year, anyway, so I’m thinking that NONE will get to the students. Again, more mandates, more positions, less money to the kids in the classrooms.

V for Vendetta

April 27th, 2010
2:20 pm

Still haven’t heard anyone talking about action . . . just a lot of words.

What will it take to convince you that now is the time for action? Our government is out of control, and we, as employees of that government, are feeling the pain of an ineptly managed system. Forget all the party rhetoric and tea bag blustering. It’s time to do something real and decisive.

Who’s with me?

anon

April 27th, 2010
2:42 pm

I’d go march, even though I’m not a teacher. I’m about to lose my job due to DCSS layoffs anyways. I’ve been keeping up with all that is going on in GA education, and it sickens me. I’ll be darned if my kid goes back to any public school.

Jordan Kohanim

April 27th, 2010
2:43 pm

V- name the time and place!

V for Vendetta

April 27th, 2010
2:58 pm

Jordan,

Why don’t we come up with it here and now on this blog. Then we can all go spread the word. Perhaps Maureen can help.

I would think (though I could be wrong) that a statewide teacher mobilization that started on a blog could make a fairly interesting story.

Anyone have any upcoming dates they’d like to suggest? What about 5.10.10? If we can get it into the papers, emails, and blogs of Georgia, we can do it. People are ready for this. I really believe they are. They are fed up with the government. Because we’re speaking out against a government run amok, I would be willing to bet that we would have a lot of non-teacher support.

5.10.10. What do you think?

Veteran teacher, 2

April 27th, 2010
3:15 pm

Clearly, our Governor is telling us that communication through normal channels is neither welcome nor desired. That means we will have to resport to unconventional means. Actually, if one reads the Declaration of Independence, our current governments are far worse. We must take the agenda and the power back from our politicians. Jefferson mentioned that government exists by the consent of the governed. It is high time they remembered!

Jordan Kohanim

April 27th, 2010
3:20 pm

To be honest, you’d have a better turnout on a Saturday. Are we talking rally @ the capital? If it’s a sickout, no one I mean NO ONE will commit to such a thing in a public sphere. (I know it is frustrating– but such is the life of a public servant).

Let me know and I’m there with my signs!

Old School

April 27th, 2010
3:47 pm

Shouldn’t we be voicing our sentiments against RTTT to the Committee that will make the decisions at the NATIONAL level (or whatever it’s called) and to our senators and representatives in WASHINGTON D.C.?
It has been proven over and over that the state boys either can’t hear, can’t read, don’t care, or are just going to do what they like regardless. It seems to me that to insure our voices are more likely to be heard on this matter, we need to bypass the Gold Dome and go much farther north.

RBN

April 27th, 2010
4:09 pm

What is better, having a good application, or having a plan that might actually move Georgia forward? Yes, we need a better evaluation instrument. Work with us to develop it. Yes, some forms of performance pay can work. Sit down with us and develop one that could work, then actually fund it. Yes, class size does matter for both student achievementa and teacher retention. Spend the kind of energy, though hopefully not time, that you spent developing a transportation funding plan on an education funding plan.

high school teacher

April 27th, 2010
4:46 pm

If anyone who reads the survey happens to find the words “paid in part according to student performance,” can you please let me know? ‘Cause I can’t find it anywhere. Bert, you may have asked for our input, but you did NOT ask about merit pay.

Cere

April 27th, 2010
5:03 pm

I have a hard time believing that this Race to the “Top” money is worth all this… Texas opted out – so many studies have shown that NCLB and now the RTTT federal dollars are costing states more to implement than they receive from the feds… I don’t understand the lemming mentality exhibited by states in this ridiculous “Race”… a race for money that the government should simply pay in order to educate our citizens. Can you imagine if Obama made the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy compete for funding?!!

From Maureen’s own reporting –

“Texas governor to feds: Stay out of our schools
1:51 pm January 14, 2010, by Maureen Downey

A key racer just dropped out of the Race to the Top, the competition under way among states to win federal school improvement millions.

Texas is dropping out even though it was in line for up to $700 million. The governor said the trade-off wasn’t worth it. Up until now, Texas had been preparing its application and working with the Gates Foundation to build its case and satisfy the stiff criteria to win the grants.

“Texas is on the right path toward improved education, and we would be foolish and irresponsible to place our children’s future in the hands of unelected bureaucrats and special interest groups thousands of miles away in Washington, virtually eliminating parents’ participation in their children’s education,” said Gov. Rick Perry in a statement. “If Washington were truly concerned about funding education with solutions that match local challenges, they would make the money available to states with no strings attached.”

In a letter to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Perry wrote:

“I will not commit Texas taxpayers to unfunded federal obligations or to the adoption of unproven, cost-prohibitive national curriculum standards and tests. In the interest of protecting our state sovereignty over matters concerning education and shielding local schools from unwarranted federal intrusion into local decision-making, Texas will not be submitting an application for RTTT funds.”

In a statement, Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott said, “I wholeheartedly support the governor’s decision. This one-time grant program would result in mandates for districts that would last for decades.”

@Happy Teacher

April 27th, 2010
5:23 pm

Happy Teacher, Come tell us that you “believe” teachers will be brought to the table…Come tell us about teacher buy-in… Come voice your support for merit pay… Come remind us again how we will make more money with merit pay and that it is not bad at all, teachers just need to “hope” and “believe” that they mean well….even though they do not care enough to talk to us. How will you make this sound good?

Educator2

April 27th, 2010
5:26 pm

I support a protest, too!

TeacherTeacher

April 27th, 2010
5:56 pm

I only wish Sonny Perdue COULD run for office again, so that I could actively work to vote him OUT of office.

GoodforKids

April 27th, 2010
6:22 pm

I am a novice on state politics but do you think Perdue is going for RTTT and participating in Common Core Standards for the sake of his own future aspirations rather than because he thinks it will benefit education? He seems to me to be all about himself. Does he want to run for Senate or does he aspire to other national leadership positions in a future administration? He is certainly not competing for RTTT for the sake of our educators or students.

catlady

April 27th, 2010
7:09 pm

“The boys” want to be able to brag that they snagged the great “prize” of RTTT. Even if it costs us money, think of the glory! Another notch on the bedpost! Woohoo!

Think of what might have been done if REAL educator input had been solicited. As many bright folks as we have in this state, we could have brainstormed some really good ideas to meet the challenge of finding a real way to evaluate work.

Of course, then “the boys” would have had to share the glory. Too much to ask.

catlady

April 27th, 2010
7:50 pm

Here is a clue: When the two RTTT awardees were named, a spokesman immediately started to cry that the government had said it would name 4-5 states (and they thus felt cheated that number 3 did not “get it”). In fact, Arne had said they would name UP TO that many winners.

Has anyone done a cost/benefit analysis? How much have we spent to get this bit of money? Who stands to profit?

I can quite well imagine that, like NCLB, friends of the powerful somewhere profit tremendously from some of these (I’ve deleted some words) ideas.

ScienceTeacher671

April 27th, 2010
8:45 pm

Looks to me as if the major profiteers would be those who created and marketed the tests to judge student improvement in each grade and subject, and those who developed and marketed the teacher evaluation instrument.

So who would that be? I’d posit that three guesses would be sufficient.

Free Market Educator

April 27th, 2010
9:42 pm

I have a better idea. Why don’t you all quit and become free market educators? If enough parents pull their kids and home school, we can shut down government schools this fall. All the fat cat brainwashers at the top would lose their job and money stream over night. All related government school ill gotten gains would come to a screeching halt. Students would actually get an education and parents wouldn’t have to pay for someone else’s brat delinquent. The great socialist experiment called public school is over! Every teacher’s post attests to it. If you stay in the system YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM. Follow the money to see where corruption leads…
http://www.webofdebt.com/articles/computerized_front_running.php

ScienceTeacher671

April 27th, 2010
9:46 pm

FME, I made a lot more money working in the private sector. I’d make even less working for a private school. Sorry, but there’s only so much my pocketbook can take.

Tony

April 27th, 2010
9:48 pm

It is very sad that our governor and his cronies are still pushing the Race to the Top agenda. The RttT is one of the biggest loads of SH**, oops I mean, stuff that the feds have tried to push on the states in a long time. RttT is nothing more than mandate after mandate that will further erode public education rather than improve it.

Blinded by the money. True reform in schools will only occur when local communities work together to improve the expectations of the students. Federal involvement in public education has nothing to show for its 50 years in our schools.

The e-mail from Mr. Brantley and our governor flies in the face of reason. Saying that a strong application is more important than buy-in?

Our politicians have a perception problem about public education that comes from a lack of actually visiting schools. Their perceptions are derived from myths that are told by business leaders (who also have not been in a school) and further supported by Washington politicians (who also have not been in schools). Their perceptions are basically this – teachers and principals do not work hard enough and therefore do not get good results. Their answer to this is that all we have to do is work harder, demand more from the students, and magically the grades will go up.

As you can see, they are the ones that don’t have a clue. Is it any wonder that teachers don’t “buy in” to their boat load of …………

ScienceTeacher671

April 27th, 2010
10:01 pm

Apparently my post talking about how the testing companies were the ones who really stood to gain from RttT, because so many new tests would need to be developed….

And Tony, I mostly agree…but I do think that if we could enforce some of our demands, students would have more motivation to achieve. Many other countries do much better in that regard, IMO.

For instance, if only those students who showed aptitude, mastery of the prerequisites, and motivation were all allowed to attend the college preparatory high schools, and others had to go to work or trade schools; or if we promoted based on mastery rather than age, no matter how much or how little time an individual student needed to master a particular topic; or if welfare wasn’t an option for those who didn’t want to do “jobs Americans won’t do;” or if we required parents to pay if students needed more than a certain minimum time to master a subject….then we might see changes.

Thomas Teacher

April 27th, 2010
10:19 pm

My wife and I are both educators and we both have been furloughed and we are expecting more next year….I am getting real close to not paying my bills already…one credit card will be 30 days behind. I have not been late on a payment for 12 years….now I will be late because I now have been cut 800 a month…that was enough for me to make my payments…now my credit will be tainted and this is not even my fault. I thought one was to work hard and get their education…how can I look students in the face today and tell them to work hard and get a good education when I am experiencing financial strain at home…do politicians not think that a teacher who can’t pay their bills will not affect student achievement? The Race To The BOTTOM will do nothing more than continue the damage left from EVERY Child Left Behind. I find it interesting that the it is the State of GA who is responsible for funding education in GA by the state’s constitution, is bending over and turning it up to the federal government for money…do not think that the federal government does not have an agenda…they always do….whatever. We are running education into the ground and the teachers with it. All of this has been planned…this is all working out too fast and too calculated not to be planned. I encourage you all to read The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America…it is the scariest damn book you will read concerning education in this country….lots of evidence taken from the USDOE to support this plan to bankrupt the state’s. You can find it at http://www.deliberatedumbingdown.com