Monday, May 9, 2011

Teachers and testing: Tune in Tuesday

If you're following the ongoing drama over Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' quest to roll out lots of new tests and use them to size up teacher effectiveness, you might want to watch Tuesday's school board meeting. The board is scheduled to get a report on "feedback received; lessons learned; and process activities/doings" related to teacher effectiveness. It's fairly late on the agenda, after the budget vote. Remember you can watch the meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday, on CMS-TV Cable 3 or on the web.

Meanwhile, rumors about performance pay are flying. School board candidate DeShauna McLamb emailed Friday saying four board members had agreed to vote Tuesday to rescind support for the controversial House Bill 546, which would grant the CMS board authority to launch performance pay without a teacher vote. There's nothing about the bill on the agenda, and board Chair Eric Davis said late Friday afternoon he'd gotten no request to add it. But the board can revise its agenda before meetings.

The N.C. House approved the bill last week. Rep. Ruth Samuelson, who introduced it, and CMS leaders, who requested it, agreed to "park" the bill -- in other words, keep it from moving through the state Senate -- until CMS can make another stab at garnering support from teachers and parents, who flooded representatives with protests.

On Friday, a reader asked about another email circulating, saying state Sen. Bob Rucho, a Matthews Republican, planned to rush the bill into the Senate. Not so, Rucho said: "I don't have any plans to do anything with it. As far as I know, it's going to be sitting in Rules until there's some discussion."

So, are the bill's backers planning to pull a fast one and sneak it through the Senate? Are opponents exaggerating that threat?

Short answer is I don't know; neither side is consulting me on strategy. But here are some reasonable observations: It is technically correct to say that neither Samuelson nor CMS can control what the Senate does. Opponents probably want to keep the protest momentum going, so they're motivated to urge people to contact senators immediately.

Supporters of the bill would seem to benefit more from letting things cool down. The school year is drawing to a close, the budget is demanding attention and parents will be less focused on testing after this year's exams end in June. Rushing the bill to a vote would draw attention and scream bad faith. Waiting until  summer would seem to be a much smarter plan.

Maybe we'll know more about what CMS leaders are thinking after Tuesday's report.


Anonymous said...

"Tune in Tuesday" No! SHOW UP AT THE MEETING. Let the Board see that the community cares about what is going on. Some of the misguided board members ASSume that silence means approval.

Easy parking across the street-free if you leave after 7.

Pamela Grundy said...

People do need to come speak at the meeting. This is this month's public comment meeting. There won't be another chance until June. You can sign up to speak by calling the board offices at 980-343-5139 before noon tomorrow.

Here is Mecklenburg ACTS' assessment of the lessons that we think school board members should have learned from the testing debacle.

1) Parents are strongly opposed to any expansion of high-stakes standardized testing in CMS schools.

2) Parents will not tolerate having the planned regime of tests, whose value is unsupported by research, imposed on their children and their schools.

3) The imposition of this testing regime, coupled with CMS's refusal to act on parent concerns by slowing down its rush to test every child in every subject in every grade, has contributed to a serious breakdown of trust between CMS and the community.

4) CMS needs to take significant steps toward repairing this trust, including backing off on testing and requesting the withdrawal of H 546.

Whether or not you agree with us, you should let board members know what lessons you think they should have learned, either in person or by e-mail.

Anonymous said...

I can't attend the school board meeting as I will be teaching classes in the private sector after working as a certified public school teacher and adjunct assistant professor in B.C. - Before Kids which has been deemed a politically incorrect term and now has to be called B.C.E. - Before Common Era meaning any American kid traveling to Europe and other places in the world won't know what century artwork they're looking at or what century literature they're reading in the name of making American students more globally aware and competitive.

I've expressed my thoughts via email to one school board member on this topic in addition to signing the ACTS petition where you can also read a letter I wrote.

Best wishes to those of you pressing on.

I do hope that someone notes that while institutions of higher education - including Wake Forest University - are de-emphasizing standardized test scores in their admissions process, K-12 institutions seem heck bent on expanding the practice to the point of madness.

- A.D. (After Death?)
What IS the PC term for this now? A.C.E. After Common Era? I guess I'd fail this question on the pay-for-performance scale.

Wiley Coyote said...

Teachers are not the problem.

Money is not the problem.

Politics, politicization, philanthropist involvement, "Drs. of Education"/educrats/admin and parents who don't care or have a clue and their offspring who don't care either are the problems.

It's time school districts send a message that they will provide quality teachers, up to date technology, a safe learning environment, as much stability as possible by not redrawing attendance lines every year, a sound and enforceable discipline policy, an enhanced guidance counseling program, tutorial programs and a decent lunch for every child.

Beyond that, these school districts have to get over trying to be all things to all people and realize their area of responsibility starts and stops at the school property.

It is way past time to put the responsibility for a childs future back on the parents where it belongs.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Wiley. It is quite ironic that some of the very groups who have been screaming bloody murder for years about accountability and equity--claiming that schools and teachers and assignment were the root cause of student failure--helped create the need for the testing, accountability industry, which they are now warring against.

Pamela Grundy said...

Actually what's been interesting about this whole thing is to see those folks who for some reason seem to be terminally consumed with resentment over busing flounder around trying to connect this issue with their pet obsession. I wouldn't describe this as ironic, though. I think pathetic is a better choice.

Wiley Coyote said...

What's even more pathetic are people who want to bring busing back.

Busing failed.

The facts are the facts and the fact is, public education has not progressed.

Since you never lived it Pam, you have no first hand experience(s) of what has transpired over those 40 years. I do.

What I resent is the fact that public education has been mired in the toilet and run for 40 years by people who claim to know what they are doing, but don't. If they were as smart as you want to make them out to be or as smart as they think they are, we wouldn't be having this conversation.

We don't need anymore bleeding heart, spend us into oblivion at all cost people running the system.

It's that kind of thinking that has gotten us in the sorry shape we're in today.

Programs like Bright Beginnings and More at Four are not worth the money being spent.

It's time to gut the school lunch program, another black hole rife with fraud, wasting tens of millions and redirect those funds into the clasroom. Audit the program, get a verifiable list of qualified applicants and move on.

It's time to put the responsibility back on parents to do their jobs and hold THEM accountable for the success or failure of their own kids.

Anonymous said...

Your son graduates soon, give it up and move across the river. More meth labs but at least there are some responsible administrators, friendlier people, and it's Broadless!

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 7:32...

I refuse to be part of the status quo and throw up my hands and say "oh well", now the next generation can deal with it" or allow bleeding hearts to hijack the narrative that more money and entitlement programs are needed to help little Johnny read.

Anonymous said...


School board candidate DeShauna McLamb says four board members had agreed to vote Tuesday to rescind support for House Bill 546.

What is there to rescind?

The school board never voted on this nor did they discuss it before the fact. The bill was the creation of Gorman, CMS staff and George Battle. See April 3rd Observer story.

There was a mention of the bill in a scheduled open meeting after it became a news item. The Superintendent didn’t request board action. It wasn’t an action item on any agenda.

Maybe MS. McLamb is signed-up to speak in the public comments time and will make the motion herself!

Bolyn McClung

Anonymous said...

I wonder where Ms. McLamb gets her "facts". I don't suppose anyone would intentionally be spreading this unconfirmed info around, would they? And tell us again, what group is Ms. McLamb a member of?