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For Immediate Release

Date: 03/31/14

House Republicans Oppose Union Rollback of Teacher Evaluations

Union-backed measure would put teachers in charge of own evaluations, faces veto

AUGUSTA - House Republicans on Monday afternoon voted in opposition to LD 1747 as amended by the Education Committee, which would undo major education reforms implemented by Governor LePage and the Republican-controlled Legislature of 2011-2012.

"Education reform is essential to economic growth and personal achievement for the next generation, and a strong system of teacher evaluations is critical to that reform process," said House Republican Leader Ken Fredette of Newport. "Maine's education system cannot move forward until the labor unions that supported this rollback measure begin to see that the status quo is not working, and changes must be made."

Under legislation passed in 2012, the Department of Education (DOE) was required to come up with a system of teacher evaluation for Maine's public K-12 schools. When the Department presented its plan to the Legislature's Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, as required, the Committee replaced their months of work with stakeholders with an amendment backed by the Maine Education Association (MEA), the state's teachers' union.

The amended rules put forward by LD 1747 would:

Create a different standard for the teacher evaluations at each school district, resulting in a system that does not allow for comparisons with other schools;

Give teachers a majority influence in the process that determines how their performance will be evaluated, essentially letting teachers write the criteria for their own evaluations;

Undo work already done by some school districts; and

Jeopardize Maine's No Child Left Behind wavier

- NCLB requires teacher evaluations to include student growth as a "significant" part of the evaluation. The DOE-crafted rules do this; the amended rules do not.

- Washington state's NCLB waiver is now in jeopardy after they voted down a bill to require student tests as a portion of teacher evaluations.

- LD 1747 as amended leaves evaluations to local, teacher-controlled groups, removing any guarantee that student evaluations will be used to determine teacher effectiveness, as required by the federal government.

- Arizona, Kansas, and Oregon are all wrestling with crafting teacher-evaluation systems that meet federal expectations and have found their waivers are also in jeopardy.

The Maine School Superintendents' Association (MSSA) and the Maine School Boards Association (MSBA) testified in support of DOE's original rules. The superintendents also opposed the amendment put forward by the MEA and majority Democrats.

Monday's vote was on an amended version offered by Rep. Peter Johnson (R-Greenville), ranking Republican on the Education Committee, to alleviate the harm caused by the MEA-backed bill by addressing the third point above with an exception for school districts that have already begun their work. Most House Republicans (34) voted in opposition to the amended bill, while the rest voted for Rep. Johnson's amended version.

"The teachers' union opposed teacher evaluation in the first place, and now they're proposing rules to roll back that law," said Assistant House Republican Leader Alex Willette of Mapleton. "This proposal would render teacher evaluations completely meaningless."

"Republicans are committed to reforming Maine's education system so that all children have the opportunity to learn and grow in schools that put students, not unions and politicians, first," added Willette, a 2007 graduate of Presque Isle High School.

The Governor's Office has indicated that LD 1747 be vetoed.

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Contact:
David Sorensen
Maine House Republicans
Tel: (207) 205-7793