Michael Johnston's Teacher Reform Plan Sets Up Colorado for Race to the Top II

Update: Correction made to quote below, per Jeremy Meyer.

Colorado faced a disappointing setback earlier this week with the first round awards announced for Race to the Top. It hurt not only that our state wasn’t one of the top two winners, but that we ended up a dismal 14th out of 16 finalists.

Today brings a little more hope, though, and you wouldn’t be an April fool for believing it. First, the Denver Post‘s Jeremy Meyer blogs on a great catch:

Colorado had the largest differential between reviewer scores than any other applicant among the final 16 finalists for the first round of Race to the Top money. Colorado had the second-largest differential between reviewer scores among the final 16 finalists for the first round of Race to the Top money.

More specifically, one reviewer rated Colorado just a hair behind first-place Delaware, while another reviewer rated Colorado 117 points lower, essentially “in 28th place behind California.” Whoa! But if you believe the latter score was an outlier, then maybe winning a Round 2 award is within reach.

Let’s follow the lead of the other winning state Tennessee. Our state could pass a new law that overhauls teacher tenure and professional evaluations, as well as pay and professional growth opportunities, to link them more closely to student academic growth. Now that would be just the sort of step to put Colorado into contention. As Ed News Colorado reports, that’s what state senator Michael Johnston of Denver now seriously proposes to do.

Whether or not Colorado ends up winning a more modest amount of money than originally hoped for, passing a law like the one Senator Johnston has discussed — and we look forward to seeing early next week — would be a remarkable step forward. But what will the Colorado Education Association do? Sign on and show the kind of “stakeholder support” favored by Race to the Top? Or block Johnston’s proposed reform and ensure that Colorado gets no chance at the grant money?