The Implementation of SB 191: A Reason for Little Me to Get Old and Skeptical?

When (or should I say if) I get older, maybe I’ll acquire a healthy dose of that battle-worn cynicism about highly-lauded education reform initiatives like Colorado’s Senate Bill 191 — also known as the “Great Teachers and Leaders” law. Sometimes I think I’m too young to adjust my expectations appropriately. But if someone as smart and experienced as Sandi Jacobs from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) is upbeat but realistic about it, why shouldn’t little Eddie?

Sandi Jacobs… You may be scratching your head, saying, “Where have I heard that name before?” My Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow has interviewed her for podcasts a few times before, most recently back in February for a discussion on “Upgrading Colorado Teacher Policies,” based on the latest edition of NCTQ’s State Teacher Policy Yearbook. Having spoken here in Denver Friday at a Donnell-Kay Foundation Hot Lunch event, Sandi also guest-blogged over at Education News Colorado:

Colorado is to be commended for its gutsy and forward-thinking “Great Teachers and Leaders” legislation. But the recommendations just released by Colorado’s Council for Educator Effectiveness, and what the State Board decides to do with those recommendations, are what will likely determine whether Colorado will stay a leader in this race, or if the state’s cutting edge teacher reform agenda is running out of gas.

Commenting on last week’s release and presentation of 177 pages of Council recommendations (PDF) to the State Board of Education, Education Week Teacher Beat blogger Stephen Sawchuk notes:

Two things in the Colorado report warrant a particular mention. First, the panel report underscores that the system should help support the development of better teachers, not just “sort” them into categories. Second, it outlines the challenges that different kinds of teachers and schools—i.e., rural, urban, high school, elementary school—might face in putting the system into practice.

Implementation. That’s what it comes down to. For some it’s like a four-letter word, but in reality it actually has more than four syllables. Anyway, with a little bit of help from my Education Policy Center friends, you can bet little Eddie will be keeping an eye on how well Colorado fine-tunes and puts into action its plan to ensure “greater teachers and leaders.” A project like this one is far too important to just assume that it will live up to its star billing.