Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Malodorous Premonition. The Ghost of State Shutdowns Yet to Come visited me in a weak moment the other day as I thought, "What could be the worst thing that could possibly happen in terms of education funding?" Here's what I came up with.

Increasing the payment shift has been discussed and I would not be surprised if that happened, but the rest of this scenario is PURE CONJECTURE on my part. Not much has been said about the fate of the education policy provisions passed by the Legislature and vetoed by the Governor during the regular session, but what will be the Legislature's position on the items they worked upon if and when the framework?

Coming out of the legislative session, both the Legislature and the Governor were "around" the base amount for the coming biennium in terms of education spending. As stated above, the Legislature's approach also included a number of proposed reforms including A-F grading of schools, low-income scholarships for students in failing schools in cities of the first class (vouchers), the retention of 3rd graders who do not pass the state third-grade reading test, and annual teacher evaluation (part of which would be based on the achievement levels of students on standardized tests).

I thought, "What if there gets to be a tug-of-war over these reforms, with the Legislature being unwilling to maintain funding at the level contained in the bill passed during the session in the absence of these reforms?" In other words, the Governor, and the education community somewhat by extension, would have the choice of "revenue at base level with reforms deemed contentious and controversial" OR "revenue below base level and little or no reform."

I frankly have no idea and no inside information of what is likely to happen in regard to policy provisions as negotiations continue (when they do continue) and what I've done here is merely point out the worst-case situation. Stay tuned, we'll hopefully know soon.

Interesting Development at National Education Association's Annual Convention. In a bit of a surprise, the National Education Association (NEA) voted this past weekend to allow for student achievement levels to be used in the evaluation of teachers. As many of you are aware, this has been a huge barrier to progress in the area of teacher evaluation between the teaching profession and education reformers. While continuing to shy away from the use of standardized test scores in developing teacher evaluations, the NEA's move clearly signals movement by teachers on this issue.

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