Oregon teachers need tools for success

From the Senate Republican Office:

The national Education Research Center recently released a report giving Oregon an “F” when it comes to preparing and supporting teachers. The new ranking scores Oregon teachers based on their accountability for quality, incentives and allocation, and building and supporting capacity. A grade is assigned based on how that score compares to other states.
“This report card should make Oregon leaders run to the mailbox before parents get a look at the grades,” said Senator Ted Ferrioli. “Last session Senate Republicans championed a number of proposals to bring excellence to Oregon classrooms, like professional standards and resources for teachers or ensuring financial accountability in school districts. Unfortunately, those proposals received little attention from the Democrat majority.”

Oregon’s dismal rating is thanks in large part to a lack of requirements for subject-specific knowledge, formal evaluation, and professional development or mentoring. The majority of states have all or part of these common sense stipulations, but not Oregon.

“We could have initiatives on the ground today that would raise Oregon’s grade from an “F” to “A” if our vision from last session had been acted on,” said Ferrioli. “Instead, Oregon students and teachers are stuck with less than the best. Make no mistake, we will be fighting hard again for professional development in February’s session.”

On the priority list for February’s special session is a requirement to give teachers resources for professional development and set up standards to track progress. On-going, subject specific, research based training is essential to bringing excellence to every classroom in Oregon.

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Posted by at 06:00 | Posted in Measure 37 | 48 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Steve Plunk

    Even though it’s an unconstitutional session and all mention of it should be ignored let me say this, all I got from the press release above was, blah blah blah, excellence, blah blah blah, accountability, blah blah blah, standards. This is the same boilerplate we have been hearing for years.

    Want to improve Oregon’s education? Get administrators who want to teach kids more than they want to administrate. Get principals who keep teachers focused on teaching kids. Get teachers who want to teach more than they want to be liked. Get school boards that will quit jumping on every educational bandwagon that rolls through. For gosh sakes why do they want to reinvent education every five years?

  • Bill Sizemore

    95 percent of a teacher’s pay is based on their seniority with no tie whatsoever to their teaching skills or classroom performance. The entire system is based on what is best for the teachers union and what gives the union the most control over the schools.

    The system is first about increasing the size of school budgets, maintaining union power second, enhancing pay and benefits for teachers and support staff third, and maybe somehwere around fourth or fifth comes educating kids.

    Until that order is reversed, which will not happen given the current power of the unions, the system will continue its steady decline from mediocrity to abject failure.

    • Anonymous

      Bill, let’s say your kid is retarded. if a teacher isn’t able to get him to achieve an A, without grade inflation, should they paid less than some teacher in Lake Oswego who gets a kid to achieve an A? Of should a teacher in PPS who teaches at, say, jefferson, can’t get the majority of thier class to achieve a B in thier class be punished when all the kids in a Lake Oswego’s class get A’s and B’s (who, mind you, have parents who support them and are involved, can afford access to tutors, and cash to throw around at otehr means to help thier kids)? how do you judge them in an apples to apples way? kids who come from one parent households and where that parent is all the time present a real challange to the teachers who have to teach them. that kids achievement should not be tied to the poor teacher who has to teach them and put up with thier crappy behavior…

      • CRAWDUDE

        I believe you’re correct! Unruly students should be disciplined if thety disrupt the learning of the other students and expelled if the behavior can’t be adjusted. That way their grades could never be put upon a teacher.

        As for developmentally challeged students, retarded kids as you refer to them. Federal law mandates that the schools hire specially trained teachers to educate them and tutors if necessary so your argument there doesn’t lend any usefulness to this issue.

  • Marvin McConoughey

    Teacher union entrenchment in Oregon politics appears permanent. If so, there is no realistic hope that Oregonians will achieve substantial education reform. By reform I mean more student learning per education tax dollar; quality science, technological, engineering and math courses in K-12, and effective control of teacher labor costs. The current market retreat reminds that American prosperity is not assured.

  • Harry

    Union apologists dean and eagle eye are still sleeping, but when they wake up, I am sure that they will be here with their insightful comments about how everybody is wrong about the teacher’s union, and how the teacher’s union is not the problem. Maybe they will substitute their own report that gives Oregon a C+ instead of talking about this report that gives Oregon an F.

    Until Sisemore’s initiatives get passed by the voters (and vetted by the judges), there will be no power transfer from the unions back to the people who want what is best for the kids. Part of how that will happen is for more teachers and principals to become more outraged at what their own unions are doing, and focus more on the kids than their own union interests. We need more Jerrys and fewer deans and eagle eyes in Oregon.

    • dean

      Okay Harry…I’ll bite. Not “my” report, but the National Science Foundation, which measured math & science outcomes (not process inputs) and ranked Oregon in the upper 2nd quartile on most measures. They did not give letter grades, but high C to low B is a fair interpretation. As a part time university teacher, I will say there is a world of difference between a C+/B- and an F.

      Sizemore’s initiatives are DOA (his track record is a D- to an F+,) so you and he better have a plan B. The teacher’s union isn’t going anywhere.

      • CRAWDUDE

        Dean, re-read you entire comment……….editing will be allowed since you were obviously spun up at the time.

        • eagle eye

          Dean, I won’t waste my time responding to poor Harry, but I will say to you, you are right about Oregon education and about Sizemore too. Even Dave Reinhard at the Oregonian has written recently about what a liability Sizemore has become.

  • rural resident

    This is the same report we discussed at great length a little bit ago (in fact, there have been a couple of recent postings) at “Oregon Education Among the Very Worst In the Nation” (January 14 ….).
    I will just ditto all the comments I made there, except to say that it is doubtful that enacting the R’s vision for teacher “support” would lead to an “A” grade.

  • Friends of Meatpuppet

    Yes it is all about the kids right? Why do you need a union? Why can’t you be honest to the people of Oregon and clean up your act. We want to trust you but your union is stopping any progress. It could be a great win for the children and you could be free of the guilt. Think about it..We could be great friends and collaborators.

  • Jerry

    Don’t forget, people, that because of the union Oregon has one of the shortest school years in the nation. It is a sham and a joke. The kids only are in school for, at most, 170 days with actual teacher contact. This is a generous figure. It is actually much lower in many districts. Days off for grades, parent conferences, “in-sevice”, preparation, early release for seniors, etc. are all counted as days of instruction by the state.

    How do you instruct someone if they are not there? How can a study hall be counted as instruction time?

    These would be great questions to ask the union, but they are so powerful in Oregon that they would never even attempt to answer them.

    This is the elephant in the room. Instruction time. No one seems to even know how low it is or to even care. No one.

    The union has fought for less and less work for more and more pay and they have won. The losers are the parents and students, who seem to be willing participants in what is actually happening.

    People keep wondering how Oregon ended up 49th in the nation in that report. Well, lack of instruction time is the single most powerful reason and no one will even address it.

    Sad. Sad indeed.

    • rural resident

      I hate to get in the way of another of your rants against the teachers’ unions, but they really have little or nothing to do with daily contact time and school calendar issues. Those are essentially management rights, though smart administrators will get input from teachers before implementing changes.

      The only time a union would get involved would be if administrators come up with a scheme that denies teachers minimum preparation time during the school day, creates class overloads for one or more teachers, or attempts to extend the work day without additional compensation in violation of the contract (extremely rare, and a place where the union should take a stand). I’ve only seen this happen a couple of time, and it didn’t end well for administrators – but because of students and parents, not the unions.

      There is a tendency on this blog for people to confuse what the unions do with what the Oregon Department of Education does. Frankly, I think ODE is responsible for many more problems than OEA. Since the Superintendent in elected independently (rather than being appointed), ODE is a legislative problem.

      Contact time is defined in the Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR), based on statute (ORSs) The legislature defines contact time and has oversight. I think it’s Division 22, but I may be wrong. This is one of many places where districts self-report, and too often they play fast and loose with the rules. The responsibility rests with ODE to audit these situations aggressively. Most of the time, they don’t follow up at all, and simply rely on schools and districts to be honest and accurate. If you really want to push this issue, you might want to locate the person at ODE who is responsible for overseeing this and make him/her aware of your concerns.

      • Jerry

        You are wrong. The legislature sets the regs, but who owns the legislature? The unions. Get it? Do you think they would ever propose longer school years? And Susan was a union backed candidate.
        Man, you people who live in fairy tale land really are out of touch. Keep defending the status quo, which got us 49th out of 50 states.
        Nice work if you can get it.

        • rural resident

          Jerry, you’re missing the point. This isn’t a “reg” that OEA gives a hoot about. It doesn’t matter to them whether kids have assigned study halls (which, incidentally, don’t count toward student contact hours), whether the periods are 40, 45, or 50 minutes, or whether there are a couple more or fewer in-service days. Teachers are still going to be in the building and working. Longer school years could happen, but compensation would have to be adjusted accodingly. That’s why they’re not going to happen.

          Nobody’s defending the status quo. Changes need to be made, but they need to be intelligent, thoughtful changes that address real problems. At least that’s the way those of us who live in the real world go about trying to make things better.

          You have a couple of choices if you really care about school improvement and the kids. You can keep on yapping about “the union” and only the people whose heads are similarly in the sand will take you seriously. Or, you can use what knowledge you have of the system to analyze its manifold shortcomings and make thoughtful proposals.

          • Jerry

            But study halls DO count, as the schools routinely label them “tutorials” or other nice sounding things so they can count them. Have you been in a school lately or do you just make up stuff??

          • rural resident

            No, I called the Oregon Department of Education to discuss the matter with them. I can’t vouch for whether or not schools are fudging about study hall time; my guess is that sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. It depends on the basic honesty of the administrators (again, not the union). If the schools are actually tutoring, this would seem to constitute a good case for “contact time.”

            This is why I noted that districts play fast and loose with the rules and ODE needs to crack down by taking their audit responsibility in these kinds of areas seriously. They’re very lax and it has major implications for educational quality. Again, however, this isn’t a union problem, which is what you seem to want to make everything.

            Final point: it’s one thing to disagree with someone. It’s another to disparage them because they don’t see things the same way you do. Your points would have more impact if you didn’t spend so much time doing the latter. It’s not an indication of someone who is knowledgeable and confident about their arguments.

          • Jerry

            I did not disparage you. I simply asked a question. I can tell you that far more districts, if not all, fudge on contact time. Are you even aware of districts that award credit hours to students for having a job?? This happens all the time – the school gets credit for schooling the kid, but the kid is at Wendy’s. Why don’t you ask the state department about that? Does it make sense to you??? What about seniors getting out a week or two early? Does that make sense? What about early dismissal, late arrival so teachers can “in-service”? Does that make sense? What other jobs stop what they are doing completely so they can figure out how to do what they were hired to do? Please let me in on this wonderful way to manage and learn and prosper. You have no idea of the actual contact hour average for students in Oregon in a class with a real teacher.

            The labeling of study halls is rampant. Your some do some don’t argument seems silly to me because you don’t know if any do! How can you say some do and some don’t when you do not know first hand??

            Here is my challenge to you. Find me one school district in Oregon that has all students in actual classes of instruction for the minimum time laid out in the ORS. You will not be able to do so. Especially if you actually audit what they call contact hours. This is a very closely guarded secret that no one wants anyone to find out. Trust me on that. Why don’t you visit a school sometime, all day, follow a student to each class and track for yourself the hours in a day of actual instruction? Then get that school’s calendar and do the math. Sadly, you will find that I am right.

            Further, I did not only blame the union. I also blamed the students and parents who are paying for this mess. If you read all my posts you will see that I care more than you could ever realize about the education problems in Oregon. Unfortunately I know too much, from 16 years on the inside, to be optimistic about the chances for improvement.

            We can spend all day blaming – it does not help one bit. What we have to do is accept the fact that there are no schools in Oregon offering instruction times that make any sense whatsoever for anyone attempting to get a good education in the 21st century. How good would you be if you only studied something or worked at something for 170 days AT MOST each year??? That is not even half time! Sorry, but you can’t.

            I truly believe that all are complicit – the unions, the kids, the parents, the legislature, the teachers. Who among that group wants more schooling if given the choice? Not many. It might actually be hard work. And what would teachers do if they did not have 3 – 4 total months a year off, which they now do? Or what if they actually had to be in contact with students for more than 5 hours a day??

            Nothing good can be accomplished with half-hearted, short-lived efforts. Sorry.

  • Jerry

    I got to thinking. The title of this post makes no sense. How can anything as simple as teaching, which has been going on forever, need “tools” to succeed?? This is utter nonsense. You simply teach or you don’t or you can’t. Get government, unions, and poor teachers out of the way and let the students actually learn. The way to do this is with vouchers for 100% of the money spent on each student each year.

    It truly is time to let the customer decide.

    Did you ever notice that almost all kids pass their driver’s test?? I wonder how that can be if tests are so hard to take, teaching is so hard to do, etc., etc.? I suspect it might be because the kids want to drive. So, let’s focus our efforts on creating the need and the want for a good education. Then students will obtain it despite whatever we might do to stand in their way.

    Just a thought.

  • Rob Kremer

    I just posted on my blog robkremer.blogspot.com about this thread.

    • Jerry

      If you want some bold ideas for education reform I am you man. See the discussion about China for my latest idea.

  • wes butler

    Imagine….the only complete solution Separate the SCHOOL and STATE. We must privatize this hopeless, bumbling, anti-Christian, humanist welfare system that we call education. Read Fredrick Bastiat-THE LAW on line. Remember education is always taught from someone’s worldview. Who is teaching your children? Check out the Alliance for the Separation of School and State or Exodus Mandate. Check out Gatto’s the Underground History of American Education. Other authors on this subject: Dr. Bruce Shortt(the Harsh Truth) and books by Blumenfeld. This is the only solution! Consider it. I am dreaming of Oregon Taxpayers being able to spend the $10-15,000 per student/per year privately under parent’s control where it belongs. We have no time for reform.(it cannot happen anyway) respectfully submitted, WB

  • Carla

    Whatever the expense on illegals, there’s another 10-15% of their budgets wasted on unneeded programs and ineffective programs.

    Even Bilingual ed is a costly loser and should be replaced with proven emersion. But here again liberal democrats defend and perpetuate failure. A problem duplicated over and over again throughout our education system.

    Instead of dreaming up NEW programs and mandates Republicans should champion the purging of bad existing programs.

    The result would be a windfall of existing resources freed up for worthy efforts. Replace bilingual ed with emersion English, fund the Mandarin ed with some of the savings and re-position Republicans has champions of effective public education.

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