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..