Friday, December 14, 2012

McDonnell Legislative Agenda: Where We Stand

The Governor held a press event yesterday to announce Part 1 of his “All Students K-12 Legislative Agenda.”  Before the conference, he and members of his staff briefed President Gruber and some VEA staff members on the legislative package.  We were handed the bill and offered a quick overview, but we were not allowed to keep copies.

With a strong cautionary note that “the Devil is in the details,” here is what I was able to ascertain before the bill was retrieved from my gaze.

The bill extends the probationary period for new teachers from 3 to 5 years.

The bill provides $59 million for the state’s share of a 2% salary increase for school employees. 
Localities will have to match with the local share to get the state money.  (The $59 million figure raises questions in my mind, as at the Senate Finance Committee retreat the staff indicated that a 2% increase would cost $75 million.)  The salary increase is contingent upon the passage of the bill.

We were told that direct aid to public education would not be subject to the across the board 4% reductions to state agency budgets.  We were warned that there would be some formula driven cuts (cuts caused by program enrollment/participation reductions).  We were told that there will be a net increase for PreK-12 funding.

References were made to a “Center for Excellence“ for professional development of teachers across the state.  We had suggested that the Governor take a look at what North Carolina is doing in this regard.  It was not clear what funds were being made available for this program.

References were made to funding for STEM and to continuing to examine the idea of the state-wide health insurance plan.

The Governor wants to proclaim 2013 as the “Year of the Teacher.”

The part of the bill that caught my attention addressed teacher dismissal.  The bill changes the definition of incompetence to include individuals who have received one or more unsatisfactory evaluations.  The current grievance procedure is drastically changed.   A hearing officer replaces the current three member panel (one chosen by the administration, one chosen by the grievant, and one neutral). 

The good news, in this regard, is that the Governor recognizes the need for due process in the dismissal procedure.  Our challenge is that the section of the bill which addresses due process will need substantive amendment.  We are now working with the Governor’s office in hopes of improving the bill before it is officially introduced.

Where do we stand?  First, we need to see the bill.  Second, we need to work with the Governor’s office to improve the draft before the session begins.  Finally, once we have an introduced bill in hand, the VEA Legislative Committee will direct our course of action.

5 comments:

Lisa Swope said...

After 32 years in the profession, I have seen harm done to students and to the profession itself by teachers who should never have received tenure. As far as the move from three to five years, I like it. This gives more time to make a decision that affects the school and its students for years to come. We all are diminished by poor examples of our profession. By the way, I am not now nor have I ever been an administrator.

ctbeachbm said...

Unfortunately, I doubt that another two years will make much of a difference.

If an administrator can't "weed out" or dismiss a poor teacher in three years, what makes us think 5 years is going to improve the chances?

Unknown said...

It's not my responsibility to evaluate a probationary teacher although I have had that opportunity. 3 years or 5 or 10, no difference. A person who shouldn't be in the profession can be spotted in one. My 39 years in the classroom (my choice) has taught me a lot about the abilities of my co-workers. More than the occasional visit by an admin. I think the 2 % is insulting as it's being held hostage with other requirements of legislation. Teachers should be awarded a back-pay COLA for the past 5 years for all the hard and unselfish work they have done in that time.

Hikingin said...

Any decent administrator should be able to ascertain a teacher's performance within one to two years. Three years is fair. If it takes longer than that, then maybe the administrator is not doing their job.

Hikingin said...

Any decent administrator should be able to ascertain a teacher's performance within one to two years. Three years is fair. If it takes longer than that, then maybe the administrator is not doing their job.