Proposed law: Lay off teachers based on performance over 3 years

Lawmakers are taking aim at teacher performance in a new bill.

Lawmakers are taking aim at teacher performance in a new bill.

Georgia House education leaders have introduced a bill that bases all teacher layoffs primarily on performance, something that most districts already consider. But HB 257, sponsored by Democrat Alisha Thomas Morgan of Cobb and Republican Ed Lindsey of Atlanta, makes it a statewide requirement.

The law mandates school districts create workforce reduction policies that “provide that when selecting positions to be eliminated, the local board shall consider as the primary factor the performance of the teacher over the past three years. Such performance shall include documented job performance, classroom management, absenteeism, tardiness, handling of extra school responsibilities, and student academic performance. Secondary factors may include length of service and other factors as determined by the local board. For teachers that have not completed three years of service, such teacher’s performance shall be extrapolated from the service that he or she has completed.”

I am not sure of the necessity for this law as districts are able now to consider performance. For example, Atlanta’s policy says: Factors that may be considered in the reduction-in-force plan for prioritizing employees within each job classification for reduction include, but are not limited to, the professional expertise, effectiveness/student performance growth, the employee performance evaluation, the employee record of attendance and the employee professional discipline record. Where demonstrated competence and expertise are determined to be equal among employees, other factors such as tenure status, level of certification, length of continuous service with the district and random tiebreakers may be considered among others in order to make recommendations for the termination or downgrading of employment.

I understand that bills such as 257 are laying the groundwork for performance pay, but wonder about whether any school systems here religiously follow what Michelle Rhee disdains as the “last in, first outpolicy of teacher layoffs? Are talented young teachers being ousted in favor of longtime veterans who are far less effective?

Take a look at the bill. It is not much longer than what I copied here.


From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

78 comments Add your comment

HS Public Teacher

February 24th, 2011
9:34 pm

This bill really changes nothing.

A principal will still keep their “pet” teachers which may not be the “best” teachers. They can simply say that Ms. Smith did not sponsor enough clubs – so she is outta here.

Or, how about that poor Ms. Smith was given the lowest classes with the most disturbed students. Does this mean she has poor “classroom managment?” Or, that these kids don’t score well in any class or any test – will Ms. Smith be blamed for that, too?

People that do not understand the dynamics of education put bills like this together. Unfortunately, that includes the same people that will ultimately demand “pay for performance.”

MS Public Teacher

February 24th, 2011
9:57 pm

Agree 100% with HS Public Teacher!

Dekalbite

February 24th, 2011
10:11 pm

I guess teachers will have to work harder to leave the content areas of math, science, social studies, and language and migrate into arts, music, special ed, gifted, coaching, etc. Or you could just migrate to higher income schools. Those are all better options.

oldtimer

February 24th, 2011
10:15 pm

Agree with previous posts and we all better hope a buddy of the Admin. does not have a daughter or son graduating with a degree in education…or even more someone on the school board…seen that!

another comment

February 24th, 2011
10:42 pm

Who would want to be a teacher and put up with the West Cobb Thugs, that are just the NO transplants in the bill sponsor districts. Opps I almost forgot, her husband is the Cobb County School Board member that barely shows up for meetings. When he does he is late, or stolles in, in his tennis gear, texts during the board meeting. But he can do that because he is black, and black folks do that type of rude behavior all of the time. After all they do not operate on WPT, but BPT and the Cobb County School Board meetings should have shifted their start times to accomodate him. Why can’t he Text in the meeting. Opps I almost forgot, a Cell Phone with all the bells and whistles is mandatory for every child in Cobb County receiving a free lunch. After all, they can shake down the white kids for the snacks. They can go to the white folks house and tell them to order special food for them to eat during group projects. Make the white people buy everything for the group project. Off course with this law, the black folks will just call up the bill sponsor or her school board husband and demand the teacher raise the grade of their Thug student to an A so they still qualify for the Hope now that you need a 3.7. But of course the white children will be the ones screwed here.

We need to See David Morgan immediately removed from his Cobb County School Board position as he does not perform. He is tardy, absent, and text’s during the meetings. So let he be the first example of removal for this bill.

HC

February 24th, 2011
10:43 pm

In answer to your questions “but wonder about whether any school systems here religiously follow what Michelle Rhee disdains as the “last in, first out” policy of teacher layoffs? Are talented young teachers being ousted in favor of longtime veterans who are far less effective?”

Please see
http://thehallmonitor.wordpress.com/2009/03/08/hall-county-horror/

for our little slice of heaven and the fate of over 140 new teachers.

West

February 24th, 2011
10:43 pm

An imperfect merit or performance based system is better than a seniority based system any day.

HC

February 24th, 2011
10:59 pm

If we had leaders we could trust I might agree with you West. Problem is we don’t

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Javier Brown, Yancey Thomas and Neil Sullivan, Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: Proposed law: Lay off teachers based on performance over 3 years http://bit.ly/eMT5I9 [...]

Lynn43

February 24th, 2011
11:54 pm

Let’s not consider anything Rhee says. Information has been uncovered that her resume that she presented and for which she was hired in the D.C. schools is full of false information. She has NO credit.

Artist/English Teacher

February 24th, 2011
11:55 pm

Uh, arts, letters, and music ARE “content areas.” They are NOT frills. Neither are special ed and gifted ed. Precious few of the “educators” I’ve seen in action have the most basic grasp of the content ares which they purport to “teach.”

That said, I agree 100% with HS Public Teacher. The problems with Georgia’s schools can’t be legislated away, and they can’t be fixed by pandering to arbitrary and biased “performance measures” cooked up to satisfy some yokel running for reelection.

First, get rid of the do-nothing, layabout principals and all the mid-level-pork-barrel administrative sycophants. That’ll free up some money,

Next, STOP handing out sweetheart construction deals for 2000+ warehouses masquerading as schools-cum-prisons. Do these things:

*Small, walkable neighborhood schools, no more than 15:1 student-teacher ratio. Ever.

*Hire highly-qualified teachers (meaning people who actually hold SUBJECT DEGREES, not “education” degrees that treat the subject in question as an afterthought).

*Get rid of the insane, arcane teacher certification and “alternative certification” processes that are open only to those who buy into the existing failed program and keep out excellent, knowledgeable SUBJECT AREA experts who love teaching and are good at it.

*Longer school days, incorporating recess and physical education.

*Value arts, letters, and music as much as STEM.

In other words, do what successful schools everywhere do. Kick over the traces and innovate. Run out the weasels. Follow the money. Do it for the kids.

Equitas

February 25th, 2011
12:16 am

Will the proposed law, HB 257,create mandated workforce reduction
policies ,where school boards are financially pressured to view
the projected cost of the employees (teachers etc.) over a period
of three years ? Will school boards eliminate good experienced
teachers to close the deficit gap,and would some state legislators
advocate eliminating district salary schedules under the concept
of competition ? The private sector has been hit severely by the
recession, but I can’t remember a time where public education has
been scrutinized more and financially in poor shape (post WWII).
I am optimistic about the future of the country and public education,
but the difficult times definitely make one reflect upon the challenges
and the blessings of living in United States.

APS Teacher for now

February 25th, 2011
12:18 am

Hmm…whatever.

Cobb Teacher 2

February 25th, 2011
12:23 am

I’m ready for performance pay. It is in everyone’s best interest, including teachers. Perhaps then our profession will become more respected. Right now we have no respect and the disgrace in Wisconsin has done nothing but prove the stereotypes people have about teachers.

fultonschoolsparent

February 25th, 2011
12:44 am

Why do we ALWAYS hear “young talented teachers” and followed by “old worthless teachers”? There are a LOT of young messed up teachers and old good experienced teachers out there! The truth is that education schools have been losing their best students to other areas for at least the last decade. Yes, there are some young talented teachers, but there are also new teachers who are sadly lacking in what the older experienced teachers have got – top notch intelligence. In case you haven’t noticed, they aren’t turning out the top of the class as educators any more. All this business about the poor “young talented teachers” is just another way of saying “keep the cheap teachers and get rid of the expensive ones”! It’s nothing but propaganda to rationalize budget cutting.

APS Teacher for now

February 25th, 2011
1:46 am

They should allow Ga legislators to serve only 2 years…just like in the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. And all doctors and nurses should be judged on their death rate per year over 3 years. So what if your patients are older and sicker, if they die more than the young obstetricians patients then you’re out. Who cares about your experience and how many lives you’ve saved. All of your 80+ year olds are dying faster than the 30 year old being treated by our young fresh faces just out of medical school.

Echo

February 25th, 2011
1:55 am

More laws. Really? Can’t they just make it against the law to be a teacher and just get it over with already? Lock us up and throw away the key. I’m certain the parents are just chomping at the bit to homeschool their child(ren).

SSTeacher

February 25th, 2011
4:19 am

This bill leads the way to “pay for performance” as stated in the article, but that is merely a smokescreen.

This is about administrators and school boards being given the opportunity to manipulate “performance” evaluations in order to get rid of higher paid teachers (the ones with actual experience) so they can reduce budget expenditures.

This is the kind of excrement you get when teachers (and others) live in a “right to (not)work” state, with no collective bargaining rights. It is also what you get when curriculum is devoid of historical understanding of government taxation and a way to apply math. See Chris Lehmann’s (principal of SLA in Philadelphia) post today ( http://practicaltheory.org/serendipity/index.php?/archives/1293-Math,-History-and-Marginal-Tax-Rates.html )

When you begin to understand the snowball effect of this, it becomes easier to see why Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and Tennessee teachers and other public workers are protesting.

SSTeacher

February 25th, 2011
4:34 am

Place Governor’s Name – And You Have the Same Issue

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-2zFHQWYa8

GA taxpayer

February 25th, 2011
5:17 am

Has anybody noticed that the new teachers seem to be a lot of coaches or the spouses of coaches?

Peter Smagorinsky

February 25th, 2011
5:30 am

I googled Rhee’s resume problems after reading Lynn43’s comment above. See
http://scholasticadministrator.typepad.com/thisweekineducation/2011/02/rhee-reformers-growing-credibility-problem.html
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/michelle-rhee/missing-the-point-on-rhee.html
How someone of such miniscule achievement has gotten such a platform for pontificating on educational issues is beyond me.

teacher&mom

February 25th, 2011
6:55 am

Perhaps Lindsey and Morgan can read this:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/guest-bloggers/why-politicians-should-spend-t.html

I’m still waiting for the opportunity Lindsey offered a few months ago to materialize. Remember how he promised on this blog to seek teacher input?

@Peter S. – I, too, am amazed at the Rhee phenomena. Isn’t it convenient that Lindsey and Morgan introduced this bill the same week that Rhee writes an OpEd for the AJC?

catlady

February 25th, 2011
6:57 am

I love how those who rail for “state’s rights” and “local control” love to tell everyone what to do!

catlady

February 25th, 2011
7:03 am

Professor Smagorinsky–and there are others, if we examined their records closely, closer to home.

Cobb Teacher 2–not more respected. Few will “merit” the pay. We will just be disrespected with lower pay. (Why do you give coffee to a drunk? All you end up with is an awake drunk.)

Cobb History Teacher

February 25th, 2011
7:39 am

@CobbTeacher2

Be careful what you ask for. Don’t think for a second that you’re going to make any more than you make now. No one….no one has put out a pay scale for anyone to review as of yet. They want us to all sign on blindly. What I fear you’ll find is that you would only make what you make now if your scores are all above board and if your scores are average or below you’ll take a pay cut. I mean if they can’t pay us know how will they pay us with this “miracle” merit pay. Also you may get great scores at your current school but don’t think that for a moment under merit pay they won’t move teachers around in order to make things “fair”. “Oh, you’ve been getting merit pay for three years at your school we need you to move to this school and work your magic there.”

JW

February 25th, 2011
7:43 am

It’s funny to me that there never seems to be talk of administrative accountability. When are some of these school administrators to be held accountable for allowing poor teachers to remain among the faculty? When will administrators be held accountable for simply passing poor teachers along to another school or community?
No matter what you might hear or read, it is not impossible to fire teachers. It just takes some documentation on the part of administrators. Documentation like teachers are required to keep on their students academic and behavioral performance each day.
It seems to me that all of these “education” laws focused only on what to do about the teachers are really missing the main problem – administrative failure of duties and responsibilities.
Of course, then we have the problem of some lousy administrators trying to evaluate teachers. Teachers really are in a no-win situation here. Good luck to them all!

Note

February 25th, 2011
7:54 am

Cobb County already includes absenteeism as a major criteria in the new RFT policy…. hence why there is all this savings on Sub Pay this year… Sorry calendar people, it doesn’t have anything to do with what days teachers work.

TW

February 25th, 2011
8:09 am

This legislature will do anything to take the public eye off of their revenue generating cowardice.

TW

February 25th, 2011
8:20 am

It’s kind of surprising that a people who beat their chests so hard about ‘heritage’ are willing to throw their kids under the bus for flat-screen TVs in mansion bathrooms.

With the vicious global economy that awaits today’s K-12, it would be more honest for this Republican legislature to just outlaw school and require each kid to purchase a gun.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

February 25th, 2011
8:24 am

Student achievement should have consequences for teachers.

Student achievement should also have consequences for students.

What's best for kids?

February 25th, 2011
8:31 am

Although in theory, I really do like pay for performance, but I also know that there is no money to reward good teachers. I also know that there is cronyism running rampant in many counties (dekalb, atlanta, and probably quite a few of the smaller ones). How does one keep it equitable in nature? I know, life isn’t fair, but as a teacher with 18 years of experience and two advanced degrees, I am a heck of a lot more expensive than a first year teacher with a Bachelor’s Degree. In the long run, I could save the county 200k or more if they decided to replace me with a first year teacher.
I think that I am worth every penny, as my students do well on all of their standardized tests, but I don’t do much extra curricular because I have a family that needs me at home. I do not miss school when I am ill, but I often have sick children who have to stay at home when ill. What I see is education being 20 years behind the corporate world still. While businesses have become more family friendly, education, ironically, has embraced the assembly line mentality of Henry Ford.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

February 25th, 2011
8:34 am

Student achievement should also have consequences for administrators at all levels.

teacher&mom

February 25th, 2011
8:43 am

@Dr. Spinks – Student achievement should also have consequences for legislators who pass education mandates and laws….without proper funding or support, who fail to seek meaningful input from qualified educators (Rhee doesn’t count), and actually listens to parents (not just the “Choice” group).

sissyuga

February 25th, 2011
8:53 am

Thank you Dr. Smagorinsky for your links. Rhee generates attention for herself in the name of reform and sadly the real shakers and movers (teachers mentioned in the articles) do not get noticed. What concerns me is the number of people who have latched on to her and not enough of reporters are truly researching her history as they should. Kudos to the writers who decided to.

Fulton County Observer

February 25th, 2011
8:57 am

I am sick and tired of everyone complaining about politicians and what bill they are trying to pass for the sake of achievement! I am sick and tired of “education specialist” saying they know what will work, for the sake of achievement! I am sick and tired of the blame and finger pointing for the sake of, achievement! You can put any law into place you want, but there is always going to be a loophole that allowes someone or something else to slip through. None of this new fangled curriculum, hiring, firing, cutting, etc. is working, are you people blind, deaf and dumb!!!!

V for Vendetta

February 25th, 2011
9:30 am

This is evidence of why the politicians should have been higher on the apology list from the other day. The are really clueless as to what takes place within the walls of a school. And they’re making all the decisions. Wonderful.

And you wonder why we’re in the situation we’re in?

Maureen Downey

February 25th, 2011
9:37 am

@V, Wish everyone could have heard the Blank Foundation panel Monday night where Baltimore schools CEO Andres Alonso said, “School systems have exactly the outcomes that they want. If if it is working in a certain way, it is exactly the way it was meant to be.”
I thought about Alonso’s comment in the context of APS, but also think it applies to education as a whole. It was a great panel and I will see if it is online now.
Maureen

Mikey D

February 25th, 2011
9:51 am

@Maureen:
I was promised no less than five times for a conversation with Ed Lindsey after emailing him following his invitation for teacher input here on your blog. Five separate times he responded or contacted me, each time with a similar promise… “My assistant will contact you within a week to set up a conference call…. My assistant will be contacting you soon…. I’m no longer going to do a conference call, but would rather speak to you individually to get your input…. etc.”

Not surprisingly (but rather disappointing, considering how he publicly proclaimed his eagerness to talk with real teachers) the call has never materialized. That “within a week” promise has now gone unfulfilled for two months. I guess it’s safe to say he really doesn’t want my opinion or input.

Maureen Downey

February 25th, 2011
9:54 am

@Mikey, You may get a call inviting you to come to the hearing. Let me know if that happens. (Forewarning, those hearings often don’t allow enough time for people to speak or the hearings are cut short because lawmakers have to dash to something. So, pack a lunch and bring a book.)
Maureen

What's best for kids?

February 25th, 2011
10:05 am

Maureen, I have been in contact with Lindsay, as well, and he has not returned my emails recently.
Rep. Lindsay doesn’t seem to really want teacher input. It feels like lip service.

Retired Educator

February 25th, 2011
10:29 am

I don’t care how well a teacher performs, if you have a wicked, corrupt principal, you’re toast. They will cook the books in all kinds of ways to get rid of you. If you rebel against some unethical thing they want you to do…like changing grades for certain parents kids…they will get you. You can’t trust all principals to do the right thing by a teacher.

It is a part of a principal’s job as a leadership professional to nurture and mentor new teachers in order to get their growth off to a good start. If they are doing their jobs, they wouldn’t have to pull the cord of a new teacher. The trouble is, many principals are just plain evil and will stop at nothing to ruin a career if it fits their purpose. They do it because they can. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Michael Moore

February 25th, 2011
10:34 am

When this topic first came up in January, I contacted Rep. Lindsey to offer data on teacher evaluations. Twice he emailed me (and Peter Smagorinsky) telling us he would contact us for a conference call. Guess what never happened. Data on paying teachers on performance measures especially value added test scores tell us that value added is highly inaccurate.
How many teachers were involved in putting this bill forward? Who did he consult other than testing lobbyists? Business as usual under the dome.

Interested Educator

February 25th, 2011
10:39 am

@Arts/English Teacher….your comment was EXCEPTIONAL! You are right on target. It shows a depth of though, knowledge of educating the “whole” child, and proposed solutions that will not only benefit Georgia, but the nation. I remember being educated in schools that began at 8:30 and ended at 3:30. We had PE and recess every day. My schools were well equipped with materials supporting each subject area. I enjoyed the music and art, dance and sports as well as the subject area of Math, Science, Reading , Language Arts and Social Studies. The depth of my educational experiences have afforded me the opportunity to have a global perception of life and be successful in my career as well as personal life. I do not remember an emphasis on THE TEST, but on accomplishing tasks in school on a day to day basis. There was parental involvement and community involvement. I loved school and remember my classmates also loving their educational settings. What is happening to our educational system? We need to wake up as a society and as a nation. It appears that only affluent schools are receiving the type of quality education that you have mentioned and that I experienced. All I can do is pray that our nation wakes up in time to save this generation. Our nation depends on people entering our workforce that can meet the challenges of a complex world.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

February 25th, 2011
10:39 am

Teacher&mom,

Very good points!

I’m hoping that Dr. Barge’s lobbyists will do a better job protecting the interests of our kids than have the lobbyists retained by the various and sundry educratic acronyms.

But Dr. Barge and his team will need our encouragement and assistance in informing our legislators about what’s best for our kids. It ain’t gonna be easy.

Maureen,

Dr. Alonso’s assessment is similar to the one several friends and I developed: Public school systems work well for the adults making big salaries and fees even when the systems do not work so well for their students who are not being prepared for responsible adulthoods.
Of course, the fallacy that many public school students are being so prepared is reinforced by a state evaluation program which foists “meets standard” and “making AYP” as measures of quality rather than of below-average achievement.

HStchr

February 25th, 2011
10:40 am

“Few will “merit” the pay. We will just be disrespected with lower pay. (Why do you give coffee to a drunk? All you end up with is an awake drunk.)”

ROFL!!! The whole idea behind merit pay, considering the current trend to cut, cut, cut, is to find a way to legally lower teacher pay. Looks like it just might happen…

What's best for kids?

February 25th, 2011
10:40 am

@ Michael.
I’m thinking not one teacher was involved. I’m also thinking that NO data was studied.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

February 25th, 2011
10:54 am

The next session of the GA Senate Education and Youth Subcommittee is scheduled for Tuesday, 3/1 @ 3:30 P.M. in 307 CLOB.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

February 25th, 2011
10:59 am

Maureen,

Have you heard anything about what transpired this AM at the GA House Appropriations’ Education Subcommittee meeting?

Ed Johnson

February 25th, 2011
1:25 pm

Andrés A. Alonso, chief executive, Baltimore City Public Schools, and signatory to Joel Klein’s and Michelle Rhee’s “School Reform Manifesto”… http://tinyurl.com/2agttj8.

What's best for kids?

February 25th, 2011
1:26 pm

Ed, what is the actual website, please?