Friday, October 21, 2011

100000 Massachusetts voters want a referendum on teacher's job performance - The MASS teacher's union? Not so much.....

Wow, shocker.

Over 100000 Massachusetts Voters feel we need to evaluate Teachers like anyone else - based on Performance. The Massachusetts Teacher's Union says "No" and vows to fight it in court.

Our schools have ranked as failing in properly educating our children for years. We have fallen behind the other industrial countries and rank well behind China and most of Europe. The answer to this is to evaluate Teachers on performance, just like any other professional.

100000 Voters think it is time to put the measure on the ballot. Allow people to vote as we pay the bill.

Freedom, democracy - one man, one vote. The Teacher's Union's response ?? See you in court. They have vowed to fight this as they have a perfect deal - they can keep on failing our children and collecting pay & benefits for life as they have no evaluation process and that suits them fine.

Here's today's lesson for the cement-heads at the MTA - Let the Voters speak as that is what our country is founded on. The Taxpayers pay your salary and deserve a say in how our children are educated. Your rigged game is coming to an end and none too soon.

Referendum on teacher effectiveness tops 100,000 signatures
By Michael Norton and Kyle Cheney
State House News Service
Posted Oct 21, 2011 @ 09:56 AM

BOSTON — A group pressing for a ballot law that would force schools to prioritize teacher effectiveness over seniority in hiring, layoff, and transfer decisions says it has amassed more than 100,000 voter signatures, but the state’s largest teacher’s union is gearing up to fight the proposal in court.

In a fundraising email circulated this week, Stand For Children Executive Director Jason Williams said the signatures had been collected in one month and asserted that the initiative would “ensure that every child in every classroom across the Commonwealth is being led by an excellent teacher.”

The announcement puts supporters of the ballot effort well ahead of the pace necessary to clear the next hurdle to placing the proposal before voters. Proponents must gather 68,911 signatures – most successful groups gather thousands of extra signatures to ensure they survive challenges – by mid-November.

While the organization’s Great Teachers Great Schools campaign looks to mobilize voters and tie their proposal to efforts to close achievement gaps between students from high-income and low-income families, the Massachusetts Teachers Association has ripped the plan as an effort to limit bargaining rights, diminish the role of seniority and experience in personnel decisions, and preclude part-time teachers from attaining professional status.

Attorney General Martha Coakley, who is charged with reviewing ballot questions to ensure they comply with legal criteria, certified the teacher evaluation proposal in August, clearing the way for advocates to launch their signature drive. But the MTA argues that the proposal should never come before voters because it violates laws governing the proper form of ballot questions.

“We’ll definitely be challenging the legitimacy of the initiative in the courts,” said Paul Toner, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association. “We respectfully disagree with the attorney general’s decision to go forward. We really believe it’s an abuse of the ballot initiative process.”

Toner said the initiative affects the power of the courts, which is forbidden by the laws governing ballot questions. He said that the question also appears to address “multiple issues” rather than a single, narrowly tailored policy concern.

“These are major policy issues that should be done by being discussed and deliberated through the Legislature,” he said. “Our intention is to go all the way to the Supreme Judicial Court on the issue.”

The union encouraged its members not to sign the petition if asked to by a signature collector and will fight the plan if it reaches the ballot. Noting new teacher evaluation rules were approved statewide on June 28, the union called the petition a “distraction from the real problems in public education.”

A spokesman for the attorney general’s office said Coakley’s decision to certify ballot initiatives are “based purely on the facts and the law.”

“As we do with all petition decisions, we work cooperatively with parties who wish to challenge our rulings,” said the spokesman, Brad Puffer. “The most important thing is to get the right result.”

A Stand for Children spokesman defended the ballot question.

“We’re really confident that the attorney general’s decision will stand,” said Sam Caspaneda Holdren, communications director for the group.

Stand for Children officials say their plan would augment the state regulations, ensure that guidelines for teacher effectiveness carry over into staffing decisions and make sure tenure is “earned and kept through a more rigorous process.”

If Stand for Children’s signature drive succeeds, lawmakers would have until May 2012 to back the proposal, offer an alternative or not address the issue at all and allow the plan to proceed to the ballot. If lawmakers opt to allow the question to proceed, supporters must gather another 11,485 signatures, clearing the way for the question to be put before voters to decide in November 2012.

“Closing the achievement gap in Massachusetts is really critical. Every child deserves a great teacher,” Holdren said. “That’s what we’re advocating for. We look forward to the Legislature having an opportunity to take action on these issues.”

In raising concerns with the ballot question, Toner invoked Gov. Deval Patrick’s Education Secretary, Paul Reville, who told the News Service in August that regulations on teacher evaluations should be given more time for review before consequences are implemented.

“For the first time ever, we’re including things like student performance and student voice in the evaluation process,” Reville said at the time. “I’m not ready yet to talk about consequences that will flow from this until I have confidence that the instrument is effectively implemented.”

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