Friday, April 29, 2011

Listen to legislators debate CMS bill

For those who are interested in the debate over performance pay in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Thursday's legislative discussion of the controversial House Bill 546 is available in audio archive. Select 04-28-2011; the issue comes fairly early in the session.

The bill, of course, is the one that would grant the CMS school board authority to sidestep state requirements for teacher evaluation and pay in order to launch performance pay, which Superintendent Peter Gorman plans to do in 2014. Unlike a 2007 bill authorizing performance-pay pilots, it doesn't require teacher approval.

Five members of the local delegation weigh in. Sponsors Ruth Samuelson and Ric Killian, both Republicans, and Martha Alexander, a Democrat, urge colleagues to approve the bill, with the understanding that it will be "parked" before going to the Senate. Samuelson says CMS leaders "need time for the community in Charlotte to rally around it" and says district leaders haven't done well so far at getting teachers and parents on board. Alexander notes that some of the emails legislators have gotten from local opponents contain "misinformation," such as saying CMS plans to take $5,000 from all teachers to reward the top 25 percent.

Democrats Tricia Cotham and Beverly Earle urge defeat. Cotham, who is on leave as a CMS assistant principal and was once the district's teacher of the year, is the most vocal opponent. She says she met repeatedly with Gorman and others to talk about performance pay and doesn't oppose the concept. But she says Gorman has reneged on his promise to "do performance pay with teachers, rather than to teachers."

"They need the legislature to do the dirty work and to be the bad guy," she says. She also argues that it's hypocritical for legislatures to green-flag extra testing in CMS while scaling back on state testing.

The bill passed 72-42, so the ball is back in CMS' court. So what comes next?

I'm still trying to get word from Gorman on that. My guess is performance-pay goes on the back burner until the 2011-12 budget gets through Mecklenburg County commissioners, with large numbers of parents and community leaders gearing up to push for more money. By then, the pilot version of the new tests will have been given in May. Best case for Gorman: They go smoother than the April "field tests" and some of the opposition dies down. Worst case: Parents and teachers are incensed once again about the time and energy that go into all these new tests, which will be taking place about the time layoff notices go out.


Anonymous said...

I BELIEVE that CMS and Gorman HOPE we let this die. I KNOW for me, i will continue to write letters anad make phone calls. I KNOW that teachers need to be evaluated. I KNOW they should be paid more money and if they are a "good" teacher, they should be paid. What I am against is 1- the use of STANDARIZED TESTING of the children, expecially in the K-2 grades and outside of core classes such as ART, PE, BAND, etc. and 2- the money being ear marked and spent when teachers are being cut. STOP THE TESTING planned for MAY and let's figure out a REASONABLE plan to reward teachers without taking away valuable classroom time and resources to TEST!!!!

Anonymous said...

Well said, Tricia Cotham. Thanks for standing up for CMS educators and what is right, morally and otherwise. Special thanks for having the courage to speak out and call attention to Peter Gorman's betrayal of teachers. He and his staff have lost the faith of most teachers and many very fine administrators. Expecting teachers to trust him enough to work with him in the future, parked bill or not, is a fantasy on Peter Gorman's part. He has lost all credibility and seem to have no shame whatsoever about the immoral actions which lie at the heart of this unconscionable betrayal.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen this?

Anonymous said...

According to Meck ACTS facebook page:
"Just had a great conversation with Rep. Becky Carney - one of our strongest supporters about next steps. She said it is vital that we keep working on NC Senate members. Now that the bill is out of the House, Rep. Samuelson's pledge to "park" the bill is meaningless -- she has no power over Senate actions."

Is this true, Ann, Or is this misinformation?

Anonymous said...

Gorman is celebrating Teach For America's impact and continuing leadership role in education reform in Charlotte at the Charlotte Path To Empowerment Luncheon on May 9.

There is a popup ad online stating that Gorman and Mayor Foxx will attend.

So when will the dedicated and committed certified teachers that babysit these TFA non-teachers get recognized at a luncheon and have money raised for them?

Ann Doss Helms said...

On the EdWeek blog link: Hadn't seen that particular item, but we've reported that Avossa is going to Fulton County, effective June 1.

On the politics of the bill going to the Senate: I'm no expert on the legislature, but I believe it is true that a representative has no formal power over what happens to a bill that's gone to the Senate. However, it's hard to imagine a state senator grabbing that ball and running with it over the objections of local sponsors. It's worth keeping an eye on, though.

Anonymous said...

Does this describe CMS to a T or what??

Anonymous said...


The big deal in the Edweek blog and the article is Avossa saying the CMS test plan is moving too fast. AND HE WAS IN CHARGE.....

Anonymous said...

Mr. Avossa is absolutely correct. CMS is taking a very aggressive approach with this whole push for pay for performance.

Next week our students will be taking summative assessments AGAIN. We are in a budget crisis right now and have cut funds in so many areas and countless jobs, including teachers. Tell me how we can justify paying folks in the accountability department whose main job is to design Pay for Performance. It has failed in countless districts, but CMS thinks they can get it right in such a short period of time. How much money has already been spent on these efforts when it is currently against state law? Remember that 2007 bill that requires a simple majority vote by teachers? You know, the one that Pete Gorman has decided he doesn't like so he has crafted his own bill to circumvent it? He doesn't agree with the law so he has chosen not to follow it and work his tail off to have it changed to suit his needs. All of this is being done with disregard to the feeling of CMS employees, taxpayers, and communty members.

Furthermore, the state of North Carolina is changing their standards and all grade levels, except grades 3-5 will be teaching the Common Core standards next year. The district haphazardly created these field tests and spent countless dollars to rush this testing and cram it down everyone's throats. Do we realize that all of these tests are now going to have to be recreated to align with the Common Core Standards? Why couldn't we just wait? WHAT IS THE BIG RUSH? How much more money will that cost? Funny how every other area has been cut, EXCEPT for testing. It angers me that so many have lost their jobs and working in the district is more challenging than ever, but magical pots of money can appear for certain pet projects. Enough is enough.

Squash this bill now.