I am a lifelong educator who has deep concerns about House Bill 2527. This bill includes some changes which may prove to have harmful unintended consequences.
HB2527 states: "Each teacher and educational officer shall be evaluated according to the level of effectiveness in criteria listed in subsection (b) and shall be assigned a rating according to the established performance levels; provided that student learning and growth shall constitute fifty percent of the evaluation rating."
How will evaluators measure and determine student learning and growth? For instance, will a 6th-grade math teacher's current students set the baseline for next year's completely different individuals, or will each of Hawaii's 181,213 students' progress be tracked individually from year to year in order to evaluate teachers fairly?
If the latter scenario is chosen, how many more clerical staff will the Department of Education need to hire in order to collect, aggregate, organize and disseminate the data for the purpose of teacher evaluations? Would this new staffing expenditure be an ideal allocation of resources toward the goal of improving student achievement?
I welcome consistent, fair and constructive evaluations that are based directly on each teacher's job performance. I strongly believe the proposed legislation will not provide or support effective teacher evaluation.
HB2527 proposes to delay tenure from two years of service to three. Hawaii already has difficulty recruiting enough teachers to fill all open positions due to low pay, high cost of living and geographic isolation from the rest of the country. Will delaying job protection increase the quality or number of highly qualified teachers Hawaii can recruit?
The most potentially damaging section of this proposed legislation removes teachers from the collective-bargaining process. Teachers are highly trained professionals who derive some of our job satisfaction from the ability to determine our own working conditions. Teaching is a demanding and rewarding but often difficult job. To strip teachers of what little power we have will introduce job dissatisfaction and send morale plummeting. Legislators, please think about the effect this will have on student achievement.
The current challenges in education are due to a spectrum of variables in an increasingly complex society. To target and punish teachers simply because other states are doing so is inappropriate, cowardly and self-defeating. What educators need in order to improve our students' achievement is for legislators to become our partners in education and work with us rather than against us. It takes a village to educate our children. Without their support, we lack the resources necessary to do an exemplary job, and HB2527 is poised to further erode our very difficult educational atmosphere.
* Jody Brown is the librarian at Kalama Intermediate School.