SB 191: Devil in the Council's Details While Harrison Moves Ahead on Evaluations

Yesterday Gov. Bill Ritter signed into law Senate Bill 191. Now all eyes are on the details that will be hashed out by the Governor’s Council on Educator Effectiveness.

The state’s largest teachers union, the Colorado Education Association, carried all the weight of opposing SB 191 and pushed amendments that watered down some of the bill’s better features. And yesterday CEA officials turned down the chance to show up for the bill signing event:

The law now goes into its developmental phase — leaning on a 15-member council to define details behind the legislation.

The Governor’s Council for Educator Effectiveness will have its third meeting today in the Colorado Education Association’s boardroom. Its first order on the agenda: “Understand the implications of SB 191 for the council’s scope of work and timeline.”

Did you catch that? The all-important Council charged with crafting the evaluation system details set forth by SB 191 convenes inside the teachers union headquarters. Despite having the largest representation on the Council to begin with, and despite dragging their feet (at best) and throwing up roadblock after roadblock to stop the bill, or at least weaken it. So much for neutral turf.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a cutting-edge performance-based teacher evaluation system in Colorado, no need to wait for the Council to finish its job in 2011. I’ve pointed you before to the groundbreaking work Harrison School District is doing in overhauling teacher evaluations and compensation.

Now Harrison is getting national attention from Education Sector’s Rob Manwaring on The Quick and The Ed blog, who concludes:

Now this proposal does not go far enough, but it is a start. The next step, might be to actually let a teacher go who receives three poor evaluations in a row.

Well, don’t forget SB 191. Once implemented, teachers will lose their tenure-like protections after two consecutive ineffective evaluations. But with CEA’s amendments to the bill, these ineffective teachers still will have greater rights through arbitration than my mom and dad do at their jobs.