Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Update on Teacher Evaluation

ISTA Vice-President Teresa Meredith
Update on Teacher Evaluation

RISE is Indiana's model evaluation and development system created by the IDOE Evaluation Cabinet and representatives from the New Teacher Project.

A Message from President Schnellenberger

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"You should know that ISTA was a huge force in bringing about these legislative gains. I've been told by more than one legislator that without the tireless advocacy of our Association, these gains would have never materialized." -- comment made by Julian Smith, President, Jennings County Classroom Teachers Association regarding gains made in the 2012 legislative session.

Dear ISTA Members,

Recently I talked to a local president who said that some of his members were questioning the value of ISTA. He said they asked whether ISTA was still able to contribute to the well-being of its members.

I decided that even in our world of technological information overload perhaps some ISTA members have not been updated on what ISTA has accomplished on their behalf just this past year.

Here is a partial list of recent successes:

Teacher Contracts
Last August the Indiana Department of Education wanted to require all teachers to sign a contract that defined working days, minimum hours and gave DOE unbridled control over teaching conditions. ISTA took immediate action by filing a lawsuit stating that the contract was illegal. The judge emphatically agreed with ISTA and new contract language was ordered and issued.

ISTEP+ Affirmation Statement
In February the Indiana State Department of Education sent an ISTEP+ affidavit out to be signed by all teachers who administer ISTEP tests. The affidavit asked teachers to affirm that they would not review, inspect, discuss or copy any test item. Again, ISTA took on the challenge to advocate for our members through our legal channels and the request for the affidavit was rescinded by IDOE.

State Takeover of Schools/Teacher Evaluation/Teacher Licensure
During the 2012 General Assembly ISTA opposed a bill that would have accelerated state takeover public schools by private management, enabling the takeover to occur as early as after the second year in which a school had been ranked in the bottom two categories.

Additionally, the General Assembly elected to take back its control over teacher evaluations and licensure by creating a Select Commission on Education.

The Commission will oversee SBE/DOE rules, proposals, processes and guidelines on at least the following: (1) The A-F grading policy which impacts state takeover; (2) Teacher Evaluations; (3) Teacher Licensure.

While other groups participated, there is uniform agreement in the State House that ISTA led this charge. ISTA looks forward to working with the Commission in the coming months.

Voucher Expansion
ISTA successfully fought voucher expansion bills during the session that would have enabled private school students to gain easeir access to state-funded vouchers or tax credit scholarships.

Click here for a complete listing of ISTA's legislative accomplishments:

Collective Bargaining
It's important to remember collective bargaining and discussion are more important now than ever. With that in mind ISTA recently held its 35th Collective Bargaining Conference for more than 500 ISTA leaders making it the largest attended conference in history. Bargaining teams from across the state received in-depth training and information about how to best negotiate issues under the new bargaining law. No other organization provides that level of training and support to education professionals.

So when I look at that short list of accomplishments, I am proud to tell local presidents of the work that ISTA does every day. It is also crucial to remember that no coalition of non-members or independent locals advocates for educators against any of the aforementioned attacks against public education.

The good things happening for Indiana's public school employees are happening because of the efforts of ISTA and ISTA alone. You won't find a coalition of non-members or a group of independent locals advocating for public education at the Statehouse at any time -- in or out of a legislative session. The sole voice of teachers and educational support professionals continues to be ISTA. Period.

Although things continue to change for Indiana's public educators, ISTA remains dedicated to the idea that great public schools are a basic right for every child in our state. Only ISTA demands respect for public education and public school educators by:
  • lobbying the State Legislature for ALL of public education, not just pet projects.
  • offering its members protection on the job and off.
  • fighting to keep public education safe from those who would destroy it for self-interest reasons.
  • representing the rights of members whenever needed.
Speaking of representing our members recent legislation (2011) removed the requirement that ISTA represent both members and non-members. Therefore going forward ISTA will only represent dues paying members.

In these changing and uneasy times when public educators are under relentless scrutiny, I cannot imagine how teachers and education support professionals would fare without the continued strength and efforts of the ISTA. We are here when you need us.
Trusting your future to independent local leaders or to any other organization has never been a good idea. And in today's environment, to do so would be devastating for you and your profession.

Thanks for all you do.

Nate Schnellenberger, ISTA President
xposted at EAEA