Home Opinion Bill O'Connor Student and teacher evaluation ‘reforms’ on the way

Student and teacher evaluation ‘reforms’ on the way

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By Bill O’Connor –

The Board of Public Education (BOPE) held meetings on Thursday January 31st and Saturday February 2nd for presentations from the Administration on spending and activities. BOPE member Rick R. Wood was inspired to suggest that teachers be paid bonuses for showing up to teach.

Apparently Wood has pushed this plan before. BOPE veteran M.L. Corn, pointed out that single mothers would be less likely to benefit since they often must be out due for children’s needs. Fletcher Elementary principal Jennifer Shelton said she understood the need because Principals, like her, had families too. Wood added that no matter the board’s decision he thought it valuable to have had the discussion on pay for good attendance.

Perhaps other public employees could get in on this too. Firemen could be paid a bonus per fire attended, or Policemen per arrest. Really now, many enlightened private businesses realizing that single parent (sadly) and two worker families are a fact, provide for one category of time off as personal time for vacations and whatever else may be needed, and consider time not used as a factor in performance reviews. An attendance bonus just seems NEA union-inspired and comes across as a claim of entitlement and not a good idea at any time, and especially, not in our troubled economy.

The new Hendersonville High

Before the opening gavel for Saturday’s meeting there were informal discussions of plans for the recently purchased Boyd property adjacent to Hendersonville High School. Chairman Bazzle expressed concern that the school system be sure to have a comprehensive evaluation of the property before taking anything to the Board of Commissioners (BOC). Bazzle emphasized being sure that structures on the property were truly not useful before planning to take them down. BOPE member Wood and Superintendent David Jones concurred on Bazzle’s go-slow-be-thorough approach. Bazzle warned that if they foresaw problems without solutions and elevated costs, the BOC would also see them and be less than content. The previous BOC, rightly it seems, concluded that the push for building on the property would begin nano-seconds after the property acquired by the people of Henderson County became vacant.

Testing Students and Judging Teachers

The most significant business, for the long run, taken up at the Saturday morning session was the issue of testing; both student performance testing and teacher evaluations. The best thing said about student testing is there will be tests; the worst thing is they will not test on history and civic understanding. Tests will be administered and graded by the teachers. Teachers will have part of their evaluation based on improvement in their kids scores over what those same students did the previous year. Remembering Reagan’s principle to “trust but verify”, we must wonder what safeguards will be in place to prevent something like what happened in Georgia last year when 178 teachers in 44 schools in and around Atlanta, it was charged, as reported in the MSN Rock Center website: “…would gather after school or on weekends, erase wrong answers and change them to correct ones”.

The results of the new test will constitute the 6th criteria added to the evaluation where teachers will be rated as: “Needs Improvement”, “Effective”, and “Highly Effective”. When asked by your correspondent if this would produce a normal bell-shaped curve (with perhaps 80% in the middle category and 10% at each end), Mr. Bo Caldwell responded that he did not know. Chairman Bazzle picked up on this and noted that the result would be a natural tool to use in teacher retention decisions. His suggestion was met with a cacophony from all around the room, then silence. Caldwell picked it up again, but failed to touch on citizens concerns that our schools may be more affected by NEA union priorities than the quality of the education. It is an accepted axiom that any evaluation of a population of people fairly and impartially judged to a standard of three possible outcomes will fall on a bell-shaped curve as above. We wait and hope for a fair evaluation standard to be set in Henderson County and that our school management will insist on it and not allow the evaluations to be skewed toward the positive end.

Balfour is Back

We cannot close without noting one very positive presentation by Principal Kent Parent of Balfour. He is well along in turning an “Alternative” school that was/is seen as a dumping ground for kids with discipline problems, into a series of Academies of education for kids who want a “doing and thinking” future, not just thinking. He showed a video of a young man in the act of dressing out in full firefighting gear in 39 seconds. It wasn’t clear if that was a record, but he beat his instructor’s personal best. Parent asked for the BOPE to consider renaming the school to avoid the existing stigma of “going to Balfour” and to reflect its new role in the system. His energy, dedication and commitment were there for all to see. On renaming, I am with Principal Parent. And the rest was pretty much routine.

McGrady Stops By

Rep. Chuck McGrady, Co-Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education, was present and came over to the Media table. He reported that he will move an Eminent Domain Bill this week to preclude some of the problems that arose in the Supreme Court travesty in the “Kelo” case. He said they were planning to wrap up in Raleigh with a completed budget by June 1st. I think that would be the record. Asked about state action on 2nd Amendment nullification attempts by the Washington Government, he said they had been advised against state nullification, he didn’t say by whom. He said there were other ways to prevent overreaching by Washington, but he didn’t say how. Asked if they would base a firewall on the 10th Amendment he said, “Sure some of the arguments are from that standpoint.” Not very clear except that he didn’t seem likely to support an effective states rights stand against Washington’s campaign efforts.

A couple of points under the category of: Get it Off My Chest.

Benghazi: Humans have exchanged ambassadors/emissaries for thousands of years with the understanding that they came under the protection of the government visited. There is nothing to “learn” from investigating Ambassador Stevens’ murder along with three of his colleagues. There is much for our opponents to learn from the lack of action and continued so-called investigation (read – cover up); and the impotent (or worse) and criminally negligent national government, indictable for high crimes and misdemeanors…at least. And to the former Secretary of State: Madame – a tantrum does not constitute an argument or an explanation, despite the impression a dozen fawning Republican idiots (or Clinton cabinet applicants) may have left. This incident and aftermath galls me personally, having served my country in Libya.

School Shootings: Our County must take the lead in good sense to abolish the brain-dead, feel-good “gun free zones” around our schools. By allowing armed holders of valid Concealed Carry Permits (CCP) on campuses we advertise our seriousness and encourage motivated employees to obtain (or use) a CCP. By this simple action our schools will be much safer from the evil and insane, neither kind of which has been stupid enough to go where they might be challenged. The Aurora shooter picked the one theater of 20 in the area that was “gun free”. The ONLY way to stop armed bad guys is with armed good guys.

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