"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Reader Calls Carpetbagging StudentsFirst Request Asking Missouri Citizens to "Pick up the Phone...Hooey"--Part II

Educational reform in Missouri?

The carpetbagging organization StudentsFirst is pleased with the passage of HB1526 which is now advancing to the Senate.  This bill states teacher performance, not seniority, should govern teacher layoffs.  From the St. Louis Post Dispatch:

JEFFERSON CITY • The Missouri House's Republican leadership pushed through one of its priorities today, passing a bill aimed at ending some job protections for veteran public school teachers.

Under the bill, school districts that have to let teachers go because of falling enrollment or declining revenue could not base layoff decisions on seniority.

A teacher's performance -- including "evidence of increased student achievement" -- would be the most heavily weighted factor in the decision, according to the bill.

Supporters said teachers should be held accountable for their performance.

"This bill's about freedom, it's about empowerment of local school districts, and it's ultimately about whether your children have the chance to succeed," said Majority Leader Tim Jones, R-Eureka.

Rep. Joe Aull, D-Marshall and a former school administrator, viewed the bill as a slap at teachers.

He said Missouri's teacher pay ranks 47th in the nation. Yet by many yardsticks, such as a 10 percent rise in the state's high school graduation rate, Missouri schools are improving, Aull said.

"These statistics tell me that somebody's doing a pretty good job, and that somebody is teachers," he said.

The House had already scaled back the bill, removing provisions that would have set up a teacher evaluation system based in part on student growth, as measured by standardized tests and other means.

StudentsFirst, a California-based national student advocacy group, has been lobbying for the bill and running television ads touting it. The group said it was pleased to see the slimmed-down version advance.

"We have an opportunity here to take a solid step forward on a truly bold educational reform," said Lea Crusey, state director of StudentsFirst.

Lea Crusey, who has no experience in Missouri as a teacher or administrator once again knows what is best for Missouri students.  Does this sound the same as other special interest lobbying groups knowing what is best for students?  This is a fight between the teacher unions and the educational reformers who want to diminish the unions' hold on educational matters.  

Representative Jones talks about the "empowerment of local school districts" to now make decisions.  That's partially true as districts can make this decision based on state action.  What is lost in this discussion is that the local districts still don't have autonomy to make their own decisions for their own schools in terms of how to fire teachers (that's from the state), assessment choices and in practicality, curriculum decisions since the curricula must fit the assessments.   Are these the same legislators that tout "local control"?
The legislature seems content to let the Common Core consortia drive how and what Missouri children learn so why are they so concerned about the control of teacher tenure? Is it because StudentsFirst approves of common core and centralized, nationalized control of education?

Below is another email sent from a reader signed by Ms. Crusey which urged support from Missouri residents on HB 1526.  Note the second paragraph.  Just who should be setting these teacher and principal evaluationsStudentsFirst?  The unions?  The legislature?  The local school district?  Again, does the parent/taxpayer even have a voice in these decisions?

Take note of her third paragraph.  She's as much special interest as the groups she rails on about.  

***see remarks below (Email header):" xxx, can you pick up the phone today?"

Dear xxx,

Missouri's education policies must put student interests above all others -- now is the time to stand up for student-focused education reform.

Missouri legislators are considering a bill that would be a big win for our students. HB 1526 will help make sure that every Missouri student has a great teacher by establishing meaningful teacher and principal evaluations statewide that reflect student learning. It is the right thing to do for our kids.

Unfortunately, special interests are coming out in force in defense of the status quo and are lobbying against this bill. Please take a minute to call your legislator and tell them to vote YES on HB 1526 so that every Missouri child has the benefit of an effective teacher. If you click on the link below, we’ll give you all of the information you need and even connect you to your representative.

Call your representative now!

Meaningful teacher and principal evaluations will enable Missouri to build an excellent teacher workforce by finally recognizing and retaining excellent educators and providing support to those who need improvement. In addition, the legislation being considered will make sure that even when layoffs are unfortunately necessary, the most effective teachers will stay in the classroom. Layoffs will no longer be based solely on seniority but will take teacher quality into account.

Teachers have the most significant impact on student success of any in-school factor. Every Missouri student deserves an excellent teacher. Please make sure your voice is heard -- tell your representative to vote in support of HB 1526 so that Missouri's kids have the best teachers possible:


Thank you for your support at this critical moment.


Lea Crusey
Missouri State Director, StudentsFirst


****From the reader: 

 I'll pick up the phone when StudentFirst actually put students first: first in line to receive blame for not working, first in line to suffer the consequences of consciously rejecting the educational system.  When my kid sits in class and is surrounded by 5 students who shove the worksheet back in the teacher's hand and say, "Don't even bother.  I ain't doin' that sh**" we need to blame those students first and not the teacher for "failing to motivate them."  What a bunch of hooey.

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