Saved by the bell: End of Legislature ends merit pay push for this year.

The governor’s attempt to begin reforming how Georgia teachers are evaluated as a means of ultimately changing how they are paid never came to a vote Thursday in the final session of the General Assembly. (I watched the session until 11:45 p.m. and then went to sleep, figuring there was no way lawmakers would tackle that issue in 15 minutes.

But my colleague Kristina Torres made it to the midnight hour and filed this report:

By taking no action, lawmakers rebuff Perdue on his biggest education initiative this year. Their lack of action also came despite attempts by Perdue and supporters to soften the bill’s language as a concession to critics.

A try Thursday evening by the bill’s original sponsor in the Senate, Sen. Dan Weber (R-Dunwoody), to find another bill in which to add the same language was unsuccessful, denying new life in the waning hours of this year’s legislative session.

In the House, Rep. Brooks Coleman (R-Duluth), chairman of the House Education Committee, said the bill, with its current language, had only a “very slim” chance of being called for a vote Thursday, the last day of this year’s session.

Because the evaluation language was added as an amendment to a different bill — SB 521 — passage by the House would not have been enough for final approval. The amended bill still would have required an OK by the Senate by midnight.  It never came.

The bill in its original form would have provided more support for students who are dually enrolled in college. Coleman supported that but said he was uncomfortable with the amended language that included the evaluations mandate.

Perdue’s push was widely seen as an attempt to demonstrate Georgia’s commitment to school reform at a time when federal officials are offering billions of dollars to states that embrace it. But members of the state’s two largest teacher groups, which together total more than 118,000 members, spent the week lobbying to kill the bill, discrediting it as an end run toward a merit pay system.

The question now is how much this lack of legislative action handicaps Georgia’s effort to win a Race to the Top grant. I don’t think it does, as few states have merit pay in place or even a solid blueprint to move toward it. And we are not the only state facing teacher dissent over RTTT.

I think, however, the state has to show more buy-in from districts as a whole for its ambitious Race to the Top application, which several folks lately have derided to me as a fairytale, alleging that the application exaggerates the progress of education reform in Georgia. (I would not say it exaggerates as much as puts on the best face possible, which is what everyone does in grant applications. I think evaluators know that.)

What will be more relevant to the RTTT evaluators is how, if Georgia gets a grant, faithfully and enthusiastically a new administration in the Gold Dome will embrace the reforms proposed in our application. We will definitely have a new governor and possibly a new school superintendent, although unseating an incumbent is not easy and, despite her critics here on the blog, Kathy Cox has a lot of supporters throughout the state.

So, we have finished with the Legislature. Now, we have to move into the governor’s race. I think the next governor will have a great impact on education in this state.

192 comments Add your comment

irisheyes

April 30th, 2010
8:31 am

And finally, the GA state legislature got something right. Now, the discussion needs to begin with teachers from all over the state about a workable framework for assessing teacher effectiveness that isn’t based mostly on what students do on a standardized test.

Attentive Parent

April 30th, 2010
8:44 am

It’s especially hard to beat an incumbent when newspapers go out of their way to make gratuitous comments about how much support you have and how hard it is to beat an incumbent.

We have talked about the math and how so many of us believe it has been poorly implemented and how Kathy Cox was told by UGA faculty it would be a disaster if she did not change the implementation timeline and she ignored this sage advice.

That ought to matter.

So should the 2007 Inspector General report that found GDOE to be a poorly managed place.

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2007/01/31/21read.h26.html

Did the AJC ever cover this story?

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Union

April 30th, 2010
9:00 am

another year of zero accountability… awesome..

Question

April 30th, 2010
9:42 am

Maureen, is there a chance you could find the blue prints for merit base pay that other states are trying to use. I am interested to see how they are setting it up.

catlady

April 30th, 2010
9:54 am

Aw, AP, that was YEARS ago! We know KC has fixed it up by now!

MiltonMan

April 30th, 2010
9:56 am

Great. Let’s keep the many, many incompetent teachers that we have in Georgia.

V for Vendetta

April 30th, 2010
10:06 am

Union and Milton Man,

Put your money where your mouths are. How do you two think we should be evaluated? Instead of complaining, why not throw out some interesting ideas on how we can be evaluated based on the performance of children who we neither select nor can control (based on current discipline practices).

Oh, I know what you’re going to say: “If you were truly a good teacher, you could spin gold out of a sow’s ear.”

(Sigh)

Todd

April 30th, 2010
10:07 am

Why aren’t parents accountable? they are the biggest problem in education.

Elizabeth

April 30th, 2010
10:08 am

Milton: Incompetent teachers can be weeded out regardless of their “tenure” if administrators want to document and take the time to do so. You had beter be glad that not passing this bill may kep hundreds of thousands of excellent teachers in the classroom. I know of many who would have left if this had passed. Far more would have left than the number of “incompetent” teachers you envision would stay.

???

April 30th, 2010
10:20 am

MiltonMan

April 30th, 2010
10:20 am

Elizabeth, you are incorrect. We tried to remove a couple of incompetent teachers here in a North Fulton school & the adminstrators refused to do so – they maintained this “we will watch their back” mentality.

Let’s see teachers for the most part are against vouchers allowing parents to shop around for schools. Teachers/admins cave into whining parents who want their children’s grades changed. How do you expect to have any respect from the majority of parents???

Also, we always get this garbage sent home to us about “make sure that you vote for the penny tax increase so that we can build schools” from the teachers. The teachers then complain when a school like Bethany Bend High School is being built.

You decided to become a teacher obtaining perhaps the easiest degree one can be afforded in college then complain about schools??? You made the decision; live with it.

Fourth Estate Sale

April 30th, 2010
10:25 am

AJC daily circulation declined by 25 percent last year.

So in the name of “accountability,” does that mean all the writers at the paper deserves a 25 percent pay cut?

Same relevance as student standardized test scores to teachers’ performance.

who ever heard?

April 30th, 2010
10:31 am

We made that decision, just as you made the decision to have your children in a North Fulton school.

Sounds like you have administration problems, MiltonMan. At my school two years ago, 6 teachers were let go because they were deemed incompetent. We have good administrators at my school. Don’t judge all teachers/admin based on the school where your children attend.

MiltonMan

April 30th, 2010
10:34 am

V, I already put my money where my mouth is. You are paid with my property taxes.

Here are some ideas that you will not like:

(1) Offer vouchers to parents to send their kids to any school they like. You & your union opposes this; nothing like maintaining a monolopy like education currently is in America. Afraid of competition?

(2) Teachers/Admin need to get out of the business of changing test scores. I am for one sick of hearing about all thses schools who are changing the kids test scores. What does the education system in Georgia do??? Assign other education “professionals” to review & decide the “punishment” of those found cheating. Funny to see teachers remain silent on this. I guess you prefer to have the fox guarding the hen house.

(3) Have only qualified teachers teach in subjects that they have been “trained to teach”. Amazes me that I still encounter math/science teachers who are anything but mathematicians or scientist. America is getting creamed by other foreign countries in this area simply because of the failure of the school system/teachers/admins who are along for the ride. I am an engineer & I do alot better job of teaching valid math skills to my kids than the school system.

jw

April 30th, 2010
10:41 am

Numbers – it’s all about numbers – education employees and city/county governments are not going to buy into this plan until some hard concrete numbers come out. It will be a good thing, but tax bases being what they are in Georgia, can’t imagine anyone being for something that has no cost attached. It’s almost like some sort of secret society saying “trust us” – I want to trust them, but can’t until there are some actual hard line numbers in place. In a time when teachers are going to be laid off, budgets are cut to the bare bone and honestly, the state can’t pay for the system they have in place for teacher pay, right now – how could anyone with voting powers at the gold dome support it – merit pay means MORE – not LESS – if we can’t pay folks with the budget we have now, how in the world can we pay for a performance based system – Lay some numbers out there and let’s work on getting this thing done! That’s all the education sector is asking – we won’t blindly approve of things anymore – remember how bad we thought Gov Roy was – after Gov Sunny – betcha brother Roy gets the lucrative teacher vote this time!

just curious

April 30th, 2010
10:45 am

let’s get real. bad teachers are kept not because of bad administrators but big scary LAWYERS. And with the budget situation the way it is, its not cost effective to get rid of bad teachers.

just curious

April 30th, 2010
10:48 am

@Milton Man–I hold a BS in Microbiology with a minor in Chemistry. Let’s be careful about judging what people do. I might be tempted to judge you as an arrogant white a@@ who’s afraid of anything that is different from himself. But that would be wrong of me to do because I don’t know you.

td

April 30th, 2010
10:52 am

If you do not want the Feds dictating to us how and what to teach our children and if you want to get rid of this horrible HS math curriculum, then you have a choose in the upcoming Republican primary. If we do not make an organized effort to unseat Kathy Cox then you deserve then the teachers deserve the merit pay they will get. Dr. John Barge is running in the primary against Kathy Cox and he does not believe in RTTT or the Math curriculum and he believes in local control to determine what is best to methods to teach our children. Go to his website and check it out.

http://www.electjohnbarge.com/

Lynn Gary

April 30th, 2010
10:59 am

About time the Governor and State house listened to Teacher. Shaking my head. We need real reform and accountability. Parents should be the first to be held accountable for their lack of parenting. There are parents who are great when dealing with their childs education. Second, become unionized. This would stop random cuts to education and abuses committed by schools against children. Any other state with a Union has rights for Teachers, Parents and Students against the larger school system. Last get groups of well oiled teachers to do evaluations on other teachers. Administrators still jugde on whether they like you or not. When Georgia becomes serious about Education we will all benefit. The other states that received the grant money envolved teachers from beginning to end. That way teachers were able to make an informed decision.

jw

April 30th, 2010
10:59 am

the merit pay issue isn’t about Cox or anyone else – it’s one of the planks of the Race to the Top money that Georgia wants. My blind trust comment was dictated to the smoke that Sunny put up to get teachers after Roy – and it worked – then the old Vet spayed and neutered things to the point we are now – reflecting back 8 years – Roy (looks like Matlock this time around – folksy image control, I guess) doesn’t look so bad anymore!

Artricia

April 30th, 2010
11:03 am

WOW!!! Milton man…Ive never posted but you sure got my blood boiling here this morning!!! When you tried to remove those “incompetent teachers you mention” Im guessing you fit the bill of “whining parent” Garbage sent home…teachers dont create those flyers and notices!!! Thats the top heavy county offices that issue such pleas!! Also…”you mentioned that teaching degrees are “some of the easiest to obtain”!!! Where did you get yours? otherwise Im not sure you’d understand the ease or difficult of such a degree! Yuck! No fun reading your post at all!!!

high school teacher

April 30th, 2010
11:04 am

“the state can’t pay for the system they have in place for teacher pay, right now – how could anyone with voting powers at the gold dome support it – merit pay means MORE – not LESS…”

According to Casey Cagle, the merit pay system would have been a way of balancing the budget. What does that tell you about the true intents of merit pay?

I wish I could vote for Barge, but I will have a democratic ballot so that I can vote for Poythress. http://www.poythressforgovernor.com/

MiltonMan

April 30th, 2010
11:07 am

just curious = prime example of education does not guarantee one is intelligent.

Mike

April 30th, 2010
11:08 am

Several incompetent teachers were told their contracts would not be renewed this year. It is being done. MiltonMan you need to put more pressure on the administrators at your child’s school. If they have had contracts extended to them for more than 3 years the administration must document a personal plan of improvement for the teacher in question. If the teacher does not meet the goals of the plan then they are not offered a contract the following year. Teachers who have taught less than 3 years are not afforded that procedure – they can be let go at any time.

concernedguy

April 30th, 2010
11:21 am

How can you decide the fate of a teacher on one single unbiased test? If teacher’s jobs are at stake over one test, then the students should be held accountable too. If they don’t pass the CRCT they should have to retake the test or repeat the course. Quit placing kids to the next grade level when they don’t deserve to move up. If they don’t pass they don’t pass.

Attentive Parent

April 30th, 2010
11:22 am

hst-

Cagle’s comments only make sense if he means they need the RTTT money to balance the budget.

Georgia’s RTTT app talks about needing the RTTT grant to be able to afford to implement merit pay.

You can see why I get so frustrated sometimes with what has historically seemed to be Georgia’s attitude towards getting education grant money.

“Just tell us what we have to promise to get the money and we’ll impose those terms on students and teachers”.

The districts end up spending a lot of money implementing these imposed terms and the DOE or USG or various ed schools around the state get to pocket the grants.

Taking care of Georgia students, teachers, and parents should be treated as a fiduciary obligation of the state and its elected and appointed officials.

Instead they seem to treat public education as an asset they can sell off.

We need to change that attitude to get better long term results for everyone and to spend those finite public dollars more wisely.

GA Citizen

April 30th, 2010
11:23 am

Cobb County is about to terminate 500-600 teachers. For full-time teachers, the primary criteria for termination will be formally-documented performance evaluations. Don’t say it isn’t possible!

Georgia Educator

April 30th, 2010
11:31 am

MiltonMan has obviously never spent a day of his life in a classroom as a teacher, so why bother arguing with the uninformed.

As ‘high school teacher’ mentioned, merit pay was a major push by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s ‘budget task force’ – so how on EARTH could this be a system to financially ‘reward’ teachers if a **BUDGET** committee is behind it? Obviously, this is a way for the state to SAVE money, not pay ‘competent’ teachers more money and weed out ‘incompetent’ teachers… which is what some (naive) people believe. On top of that, only 30% of GA’s teachers teach core subject areas with standardized tests, that were not written to evaluate teacher effectiveness. The point is – currently, there is no fair way to evaluate educators in GA based on student achievement. We don’t have the framework in place for a FAIR system, which is why so many people rallied against this bill.

LAKE SINCLAIR EDUCATOR

April 30th, 2010
11:31 am

They did away with the teacher incentive to go back to school to get a Master’s degree, Specialists Degree, and Doctorate…..Now they did away with PLU’s……If you get a 4 year degree, there is no incentive to further your learning or do continuing education……Every profession I know has continuing education now except teachers…..These PLU’s or SDU’s have been the holy grail for 40 years for a teacher to accumulate 10 PLU’s in a 5 year period to have their teaching certificate extended….or take 10 hours towards a higher degree…..NOW A TEACHER DOES NOT HAVE TO DO ANYTHING to renew their teaching certificate…..While many lazy teachers will be happy about no more PLU’s to recertify, as a professional I saw that as part of my duty to get better in my field…..What a legislative session for education……Sonny really had a great vision…….

TisP'doff

April 30th, 2010
11:38 am

Way too much money and power given to educators and education. Did you know that money is in the health care bill to pay for people from early childhood education to come into a new borns home and decide if you are parenting your child correctly? Administrators need to have their wings clipped, no out of state travel, no 6 figure salaries, no perks, higher professional expectations. The way things are now, the parents and the students lose.

Georgia Educator

April 30th, 2010
11:38 am

Lake Sinclair – I don’t believe they have done away with the incentive for higher ed (yet) – that was a MAJOR portion of SB 386, the original bill crafted by Purdue that tanked earlier in the session. They did, however, cancel the PLU requirements (why? I have no idea!), and if I am remembering correctly, did away with National Board Certification stipends (which is unbelievable). At the moment… it looks like teachers can continue their higher ed this year, but I would not be surprised if this is done away with SOON! Truly disgusting!

Tonya T.

April 30th, 2010
11:39 am

Lake Sinclair Educator:

There were changes made to PLU requirements? I missed that one. Could you link or explain?

Georgia Educator

April 30th, 2010
11:41 am

TisP – Too much money is given to educators?? Have you bothered to look at the salary schedules in GA?? While struggling to pay our bills every month, I will keep your comments in mind that my ‘educator’ family has too much power and makes too much money.

V for Vendetta

April 30th, 2010
11:42 am

MiltonMan,

Since you’re obviously so much smarter than a teacher–you know, based on our easily obtained degrees and all that–I would love to know what your college degree is in and what you do for a living. Perhaps you are an award-winning doctor who has been tirelessly working on a cure for cancer for the past decade. Maybe you’re a concert pianist or well known playwright. You might even be a game-changing businessman whose insight and drive discovered previously unknown market niches and have netted you millions of dollars.

But I’m willing to bet you’re none of the above; you’re just some a$$hole who knows as much about education as he does String Theory.

RoswellMom

April 30th, 2010
11:51 am

MiltonMan sounds like the typical Miton parent. Most likely his kid got in trouble or got a grade less then acceptable and its ALL the teachers fault.

Who are YOU to decide a teacher needs to be fired? That IS the responsibility of the administrators, not parents.

V for Vendetta

April 30th, 2010
11:51 am

Tisp,

Some of what you suggest would abolish the last remnants of socialism from education and plunge it totally into communism. Salary and benefits limits? Are you kidding me?

If that day comes, you won’t find me in the classroom any longer.

Old School

April 30th, 2010
11:52 am

What do you want to bet that the earning PLUs will soon be tied to pay raises. Think about it. You don’t have to earn any PLUs to renew if you have a clear, renewable certificate. But if you want a pay increase, the number of subject area related PLUs you earn on your own will determine how much money you get. It’s a clever dance around merit pay; school systems don’t have to pay stipends for earning PLUs; the type of coursework that is acceptable for PLU credit can be regulated; and the arguments for and against merit pay being based on standardized tests will no longer matter.

I probably haven’t explained the above concept very well but it is food for thought and given the underhanded way Sonny has behaved in other matters, it could happen!

just curious

April 30th, 2010
11:53 am

@miltonman–so at least you can accept that i’m educated. How are you assessing my intelligence? Have you reviewed my IQ test? One again an assumption on your part. You have nothing to base your assessment on. Do you see how teachers could be unfairly assessed if its based on individual preceptions? If it makes you feel better i’m a white, conservative male. Does that know make me intelligent in your world?

teacher 2

April 30th, 2010
12:06 pm

Who is the best alternative to Cox? Time to dump her get some one who understands basic math and can adequately apply it in her daily life.

Governor candidates- anyone with Bert Brantley or Hames and her husband working their election will be quickly discarded as credible by thousands of teachers.

Time to dump all of them.

Attentive Parent

April 30th, 2010
12:06 pm

Maureen,

I’ve been stuck in the filter for a while.

Please help.

Union

April 30th, 2010
12:09 pm

parents across the country are HORRIBLE.. at least thats what some teachers would like to have you believe. If a teacher is younger, brighter and a better performer.. that cannot be rewarded.. as with some teachers.. its just a matter of hanging in there until retirement… there should be a way to better reward the performers.

on the pay issue.. if you want to make more money.. do something else.. whining about pay is the equivalent of moving next to an airport then complaining about planes. if you didn’t know the pay scale going in.. should you really be teaching?

V for Vendetta

April 30th, 2010
12:19 pm

Union,

Not all, just some. And I knew what the pay was like going in. What I’m mad about is seeing my options to make more money slowly taken away and/or replaced with illogical, unfair, and unsustainable evaluation plans written by people who know nothing about the world of education.

HS tchr

April 30th, 2010
12:28 pm

Milton Man- teachers, like most employees of professional status, are afforded due process to determine the need for termination. Your complaint as a parent is not enough to get someone fired, nor should it be. If the teacher you described is indeed incompetent, then the scores will show it, evaluations by administrators will show it, and due process will be served. I’ve seen teachers fired, and it can be done if done the legally appropriate way. As many have said, walk in the shoes of the one you want to judge and then you can tell us how to judge that person.

Union- the complaint about pay is only made by a minority of teachers, many of whom don’t stay in the profession long anyway. The current issue of pay for performance, or merit pay, is that the state will try to base it on one standardized test score. Those tests are frequently unreliable and have been clearly shown to often be invalid. Teachers would, I think, support a plan that included multiple measures made throughout the year to show individual student growth. That could be implemented much easier and at lower cost than expanding the currently ridiculous amount of time and money spent taking the tests we have now.

Tired...

April 30th, 2010
12:30 pm

So tired of defending myself. I am a competent, dedicated teacher. Pay me how you’d like. If it gets bad enough, I will move on to something else. I came from another industry and could go back to another industry. However, don’t whine and complain when the schools are filled with mediocre teachers. The only people willing to trust this kind of pay-for-performance scale would undoubtedly fail to meet the bar, then be forced out and replaced by someone else who is mediocre. So then education becomes a revolving-door industry where occasionally someone makes it to head fry cook.

Reality

April 30th, 2010
12:33 pm

@ Union,

Is the pay for medical doctors dependent upon the performance of the patients? Can’t a patient even DIE yet the doctor still collects their fee?

Is the pay for a dentist dependent upon the performance of the teeth? Can’t teeth still rot out and the dentist still collect their fee?

Why in the world would you or anyone think that teacher pay should be dependent upon student performance? No reasonable person would/could ever really conclude that.

Reality

April 30th, 2010
12:37 pm

There are already things put in place to monitor teacher performance. If there are “bad” teachers, ANOTHER instrument isn’t needed. What is needed is to require administrators to USE the instrument already in place.

Too often, administrators tolerate the “bad” teachers. It isn’t the teachers fault, but rather the administrators.

Don’t pile on more paperwork and instruments. It won’t help. Administrators can ignore those as well.

Union

April 30th, 2010
1:06 pm

@ Reality..

Why would you punish those in the education profession that would aspire to do more?

HS Teacher, Too

April 30th, 2010
1:11 pm

MiltonMan, I can’t speak to much of what you say, but I can say this:

When teachers are given materials to hand out (for things such as promoting SPLOST), it is NOT upt to us to decide not to do so. Where I used to teach we were “encouraged” to “encourage” our students’ parents to vote yes, but we were not given materials to send home. I suppose that means I was lucky, by comparison!

And I will say that I, for one, did not complain about the new North Fulton school; neither do I give grade changes merely because a parent whines. Of course, my administration can override my grades at any point. I’ve been fortunate that they haven’t. (At least, not to my knowledge.) But I have had to defend my grades to unreasonable lengths because the administration WANTED me to bend to domineering parents … so I think your criticism is best saved for weak administrators, not willy-nilly teachers. Unless you’ve encoutered particularly willy-nilly teachers, of course.