Part II: Squaring The Circle Of Tenure Reform And Local Control
In my last post, I noted that I would like teachers to be evaluated based on their ability to improve student achievement and removed if they are ineffective. I also noted, however, that it is difficult to support legislation that mandates these things at the expense of local control. The question then is, how do we square this? How do we ensure that school districts have the ability to evaluate teachers rigorously and remove those who are not performing up to snuff, while at the same time adhering to local control?
In my opinion, there are three things that must happen for our district schools to be able to effectively manage their teacher workforce and for them to have the incentive to do so.
First, we must remove state restrictions that make it incredibly difficult to remove a teacher after their fifth year in the classroom.
Second, the state must make it possible for school districts to develop value-added measurements of teacher effectiveness. After all, these are sophisticated analyses that must be conducted and not all districts have the resources necessary to compute these measures. While the state should provide guidelines and assistance, local districts must have the flexibility to make these teacher evaluation systems their own.
The first two points will be moot if school leaders lack the appropriate incentive to actually evaluate and remove ineffective teachers. This, however, does not mean that accountability should come from on high. The best way to ensure school leaders will put in place effective evaluation practices is through market pressure. Providing families the ability to choose where their child goes to school encourages school leaders to constantly look for ways to improve. If they do not, they risk losing students.
A good example of a bill that attempts to balance these issues is Senate Bill 408. In my estimation, it is much more in line with local control than the current state provisions regarding teacher tenure.