A snapshot of what is wrong with Oregon public schools, the OEA for starters.

This is from the local paper, the Bend Bulletin. I find it amusing that our local demosocialistacrats rail on the BB as it is sooo conservative and far right. Not even close but they do get it right on many issues, as evidenced here.

No substitute for real K-12 reform

Published: September 27. 2010 4:00AM PST

 Seven Oregon school districts, including some in Central Oregon, learned last week that they’ll receive more than $13 million in federal grant money to design new ways to evaluate and pay teachers. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the Oregon City teachers union is threatening to withdraw from the Chalkboard Project’s CLASS program, which received the grant. If any of that district’s money is used to provide “teacher incentives,” or merit pay, the union’s out, according to an article in The Oregonian.

Cooler heads may prevail, of course, and the Oregon City teachers may stay put. It no doubt would be difficult to explain to district taxpayers why factoring student performance into teacher evaluations is so problematic that the district can afford to turn its back on badly needed money.

But the union’s response to the conditions of the grant makes one thing clear. As good as the Chalkboard Project is, it’s no substitute for legislative action where education reform is concerned.

The Chalkboard Project does great things, to be sure. The creation of six of Oregon’s leading private foundations, it has worked to come up with reform ideas based on research and on broad discussions across the state. It currently is focusing attention on pilot programs, including the ones being set up in Bend, Redmond and Crook County, that seek to find new ways to evaluate teachers and to reward those who are effective. Its efforts are starting to pay off, too, though only a handful of districts around the state are involved.

For outsiders, the Chalkboard Project’s CLASS program includes two notable components. Teacher evaluation is one, and, to that end, participating school districts are using various criteria to determine who’s a good teacher and who is not. One such measurement is student performance. Union members have, generally, opposed any evaluation program that actually sought to see how well kids did with a given teacher at the front of the room. The CLASS project’s second notable component, rewarding teachers whose evaluations mark them as better than average, is equally unacceptable to the state’s largest teachers union, the Oregon Education Association.

The OEA’s refusal to support meaningful reform measures, in fact, helped sink Oregon’s application for federal Race to the Top funding.

Unfortunately, too many lawmakers appear to be prepared to look at Chalkboard and its successes, and cite them as proof that education reform is moving ahead briskly in Oregon. So it is, but on a very small scale. It’s no substitute for the kind of fundamental reform Gov. Kulongoski promised to support when he pulled the state out of the Race to the Top competition.

Original editorial is here

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