From Jeff Solochek in Gradebook:
The Florida Education Association is contending that the state Board of Education hasn’t created appropriate rules to do the lawmakers’ will.
“We believe they’ve written it in such a way that no one really can figure out how to comply,” Tony Demma, the FEA’s lawyer, told the Gradebook.
The State Board rule, adopted in March, doesn’t define such key criteria as “primary factor” for setting merit pay, Demma said. It also includes items that were not part of the law imposing the evaluations, he said, and it places a great deal of discretion in the hands of bureaucrats when it comes to deciding whether teachers and districts are complying.
To seek relief, the FEA has filed a complaint with the state Division of Administrative Hearings, which can determine whether the rules have been adopted properly. There’s a hearing scheduled for May 30-31.
Demma explained that the union could have taken the issue to court, as it has with last year’s pension law.
“That would take time, though,” he said. “This is all happening now.”
He noted that districts are currently trying to put new evaluations in place, and many are struggling because of a lack of appropriate and clear guidance from the state. A DOAH hearing officer can act more quickly than the courts.
If either side doesn’t like the results, it could still take the issue before a judge. The State Board already pulled its rule on value-added models for evaluations after the FEA filed a similar complaint. Keep your eyes on this one to see where it lands.
SB 736 was driven through by legislators without the benefit of skepticism. Unfortunately for Floridians, the SB736 train left the station last year and is up to full speed. Districts are still moving forward with evaluations based on value-added models. Like Michelle Rhee’s DC IMPACT system, half of a teacher’s evaluation comes from classroom observations and the other half comes from standardized test data. Also like Rhee’s system, there are two types of teachers in the same building: One which will be judged on end-of-course exams, the other will be judged on school grades.
And its test season now. School calendars are completely blocked out with one test or another. IT and web design teachers have lost their classrooms for the rest of the school year to accommodate online tests. Small wonder a nation-wide grassroots effort is underway to opt-out of standardized tests. These brave parents have realized that the brand of education reform driven by Rhee and Jeb Bush is grounded in the idea that tests are the solution.