Senate GOP call for immediate action on teacher training

If administration doesn’t act, Republicans will re-introduce legislation in 2011
By Oregon Senate Republicans,

Salem, OR — Oregon Senate Republicans are calling for the Oregon Department of Education to immediately implement a comprehensive, statewide professional development program for Oregon teachers. On Monday, Oregon was ranked 7th from the bottom out of 40 states in a federal “Race to the Top” application for $200 million in federal aid. “Oregon could have world-class teachers, but teachers need access to the highest quality tools and training in order to produce excellent rather than average student performance,” said Senator Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro). “The Department of Education can’t drag its feet on professional development any longer. It is a necessity, and its absence is hurting Oregon students.” In addition to landing near the bottom in the “Race to the Top,” Oregon was given a grad of “F” in a January study ranking teacher effectiveness. Oregon fails to require any link between student learning gains and teacher evaluations. Teachers also are allowed to graduate from probationary teaching to a full license without any demonstration of classroom effectiveness. Oregon fell short in the “Race to the Top” because it had little to no plans guaranteeing the effectiveness of teachers and administrators. According to one reviewer, “Oregon’s application does not describe any strategy to ensure equitable distribution of effective or highly effective teachers or principals.”

“We already have a blueprint for the changes we need,” said Starr. “If the Department of Education doesn’t act, we will force the issue in 2011. One way or another, we must ensure that teachers start getting the training they need to be successful.”

The non-partisan Chalkboard Project did a study of professional development practices in six Oregon school districts. They found that teachers uniformly call for more collaborative professional development time, better and more equitable access to quality trainers, and increased networking with neighboring districts. They also recognize that as school districts expand their investments and strive to improve quality, teachers will need better outcome measures””changes in teacher practice and student achievement””to demonstrate expected successes to parents, policymakers, and taxpayers.

Since 2007, Oregon Senate Republicans have been calling for state-wide standards in professional development courses and a network that makes courses, resources and research available to all educators in the state. Senate Republicans fought for teacher training again in 2008, attempting to make it a priority of the special session.

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  • Paul

    All this is true, but until the unions are forced to relinquish their grip on the school system in this state, it will never be any better.

  • eagle eye

    So our Republican wonder senator is trying to get in on the money from the continuing Bush-Obama federal takeover of K-12 education.

    Do I really believe that what the local public schools (in Eugene in my case) need is “comprehensive, statewide professional development program for Oregon teachers.” No, I sure don’t.

    Does anyone really believe that any of this stuff will actually improve any measurable student outcome, even the wretched standardized tests? Any more than it did when Bush was in charge of it? Well, I don’t.

    And no, the problems of education don’t have that much to do with the unions, either. They are much more profound, and much broader as well.

    • Steve Plunk

      Eagle, There’s a sizable number of Oregonians who believe strongly that unions have a lot to do with the poor state of education. While there are other problems the unions have brought many of those on themselves. Teacher unions are the common denominator in cases of falling performance and rising costs.

      • eagle eye

        Well, a lot of people may believe that, but I think generally they’re barking up the wrong tree. I think the unions could disappear and most of the problems with in schools (which are really manily problems outside the schools) would still remain.

    • retired UO science prof

      Ye sharp-eyed one: so what do you think these deep and broad education problems are? Don’t be such a sphinx, let us hear!

  • skippy

    Does Starr have a pot of gold to pay for professional development? School districts have been forced to trim or eliminate professional development days due to inadequate funding state funding. Does Starr propose to cut the shortest instructional days for students in the nation even shorter to provide professional development? How does Starr square up paying the PERS increase and adding professional development?

    Starrs knee jerk reaction is out of line with what is happening on the ground in every school district in the state. Talk about out of touch!

  • rural resident

    So much malarkey, so little time. Let’s start here:
    *Teachers also are allowed to graduate from probationary teaching to a full license
    without any demonstration of classroom effectiveness.*

    Pure poppycock. Probationary teachers are evaluated for teaching effectiveness at least nine–count them, nine–times before being granted “permanent” status. A minimum of three times a year for three years, and more if there are signs that the teacher isn’t getting the job done.

    Or, this:
    *One way or another, we must ensure that teachers start getting the training they
    need to be successful.”*

    There’s nothing in this process that indicates that Oregon’s *teachers* aren’t being successful. It was the *grant application* that rated 7th from the bottom out of 40 applicants, thus earning such horrible marks. Should we spend truckloads of money providing training in completing government grant applications?

    And …
    *“Oregon could have world-class teachers, but teachers need access to the highest
    quality tools and training in order to produce excellent rather than average
    student performance,” said Senator Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro). “The Department
    of Education can’t drag its feet on professional development any longer.
    It is a necessity, and its absence is hurting Oregon students.”*

    OK. We can agree that having high quality “tools” and training are important. Just exactly where do you plan to come up with the money, senator? Talk about looking for unicorns that expel rainbows from their backsides. I spent nearly ten years trying to convince some of the nitwits in Salem (from both parties) to spend pennies by comparison to create a mechanism that would do more than this, and that had demonstrable benefits. I can just imagine what would happen if someone proposed spending the hundreds of millions it would take to accomplish this. It isn’t ODE that’s dragging its heals; it’s the legislature.