Here is the open letter regarding ESEA waiver/teacher evaluations WEA President Kim Mead sent to Gov. Jay Inslee and the Washington Legislature Friday, Dec. 6.
Headed into the 2014 legislative session, WEA’s top priority is fully funding K-12 public education as required by the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision, including reducing class sizes and restoring the educator cost-of-living adjustment. Our class sizes are 47th out of 50 states, and our teachers have gone five years straight without a state-funded COLA.
Despite the state’s ongoing and persistent failure to adequately fund our public schools, teachers continue to hear that they are the problem facing our schools. They are told that if teachers worked harder, if teachers were held more accountable and if teachers sacrificed more, then our state’s students would finally receive the education guaranteed by the Washington Constitution. Whether intentional or not, that is the message our hardworking educators receive from Olympia and Washington, D.C.
On the issue of teacher evaluations, it is important for the Legislature to make decisions based on facts. Now is not the time to mandate further changes to Washington’s teacher evaluation system. Since 2010, Washington has completely overhauled its teacher and principal evaluation system, a system school districts are now working diligently to implement. If passed, the Senate bill filed this week would be the fourth major change in teacher evaluations in as many years. There is no evidence that mandating the use of test scores in teacher evaluations has any impact on student learning, and there are multiple reasons why doing so makes no sense. Furthermore, if the federal government were to revoke our waiver from ESEA/No Child Left Behind requirements, which is uncertain, there will be no loss of federal funding. And the notion that the federal government would automatically declare nearly 100 percent of our state’s schools as “failing” is preposterous. The use of test scores to label students, teachers and entire schools as failures is insidiously harmful.
I urge you to reject the perceived political pressure to once again revise our teacher evaluation system. Please focus on what will make a positive difference in the lives of our students: Fully funding K-12 public schools, the paramount duty of the state of Washington.
Kim Mead, Washington Association Education President