RAISE Act Hammers Local School Systems

While the proposed RAISE Act of 2016 is riddled with language that causes an educator to stop and say, “what the heck?” the first indication that this legislation is bad news for local school systems is in the second paragraph of the second page.  Go here to see a draft of the bill.

“The purpose or effect of this bill would be to require a new or increased expenditure of local funds….”

That is commonly known as an un-funded mandate.  And this from a super majority who wants us to believe they favor smaller, less intrusive government with as much power being exercised at the local level as possible.  Or maybe that kind of talk is to be forgotten as soon as campaigns are over.

The bill requires that every teacher be evaluated in person twice a year.  Once by the principal, assistant principal or their designee.  Evaluators must be trained as to how best to evaluate.  One evaluation “shall last the duration of one complete classroom lesson.”

There are 2,225 teachers in the Baldwin County school system.  That means it will take at least 2,225 hours just for one evaluation.  If you could do six per day, which is unlikely, that means it will take 370 days just for one evaluation.  In other words, the system will have to have at least two people who do nothing but evaluate every day of the school year.  They are not teaching, they are not running the school, they are not working in the library, they are not watching a PE class or wearing any of the multitude of hats administrators, especially in smaller schools, wear.

And this is just the time spent in a classroom.  It does not include the time that must be spent on paperwork associated with the evaluation.  As in anything, time is money.  So where does this money come from?  Apparently “new or increased expenditure of local funds.”

Do systems have this money?  Many do not.  In fact, the state department of education has an analysis of local revenue available for board discretion for FY 2014.  If you are Homewood City or Mountain Brook City this might not be a problem since the analysis shows you have more than $5,000 per pupil that might be used.  (Though in all likelihood it is already being used.)

However, if you are one of 55 systems you have less than $1,000 available.  Many of these are small rural systems such as Clay, Coosa, Blount, Pickens, Marengo, Geneva and Clarke where each day is a struggle.  But Mobile County and Montgomery County, two of the state’s largest, are also included.

Of course educators need accountability just like all employees everywhere do.  They need evaluating.  In fact, the state department has spent a tremendous amount of time over the last two years developing a good teacher evaluation system.  (Which the RAISE Act will throw to the curb and waste the thousands of dollars already invested.)

But is there any business in the state who uses a system like the one being advocated?  Do you know of a boss anywhere who watches an employee on the job for one hour and decides what kind of employee they are based on that observation?

Hey, what about this?  Let’s evaluate legislators this way.  We assign a citizen to sit in the gallery while the legislature is in session and to watch their assigned member for one hour and then decide what kind of job they are doing.

Any time I am anywhere near Decatur I go by Gibson’s BBQ and make sure I get a piece of their wonderful chocolate pie.  I do not cook.  Unless you count pouring milk on a bowl of cereal.  So for me to go in the kitchen at Gibson’s and tell them how to make a chocolate pie would make no sense at all.

And for some reason, every time I re-read the draft of the RAISE Act of 2016, I think someone knows about as much about education as I do about that chocolate pie..




3 Responses to RAISE Act Hammers Local School Systems

  1. I taught for 25 years. I welcomed evaluation. I took it as a way to pick out what I was doing well and what I needed to work on from another perspective. Sometimes you need someone from outside looking in to show you. I’m a responsible person. I agree that I should be accountable for teaching my students. However, this bill says that the only person to be held accountable in the school is the teacher. It also mentions administrators at the school level and that is good. However, there is no mention of how to make the student accountable. No mention of making the parent accountable. Accountability for the superintendent, the school board, the legislature, the state board of education, the state department of education and the governor’s office is missing. It’s interesting. Teachers cannot control which students are in their classroom, the curriculum they teach, in some instances when certain topics are covered, classroom interruptions, and the type and timing of the assessment. Everyone else that are not held accountable control these variables to the classroom. So, the person with the least control is held to the highest accountability. On top of that, teachers that stay in the classroom and try to better themselves for their students benefit by getting an advanced degree are punished. In every position I know of, the longer you work, the more you get paid. Your experience is worth something. Not so with this bill. Also, I know that in most positions, you earn more pay for advanced degrees. Your dedication and knowledge are rewarded. Not so with this bill. Now, it is conceivable that a first year teacher with a bachelors degree will earn exactly the same as a 30 year veteran with a PhD. And not on the good end. I will be interested to see how far this bill goes. My hope is that it will die a fiery death in a furnace somewhere, however, Montgomery is not a friendly place to education these days.

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