State Journal: Band-Aid Or Major Surgery?

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Louisiana teachers thought they had been granted a reprieve this summer when the legislature suspended the state's controversial program of teacher evaluations.

Passed in 2988 as part of a package of teacher-pay raises, the evaluations have been bitterly fought by the two major teachers' unions, which contend that the program as implemented was up_Fair and flawed.

In response to those complaints, lawmakers ordered a revamping of the program. Now that the process has begun, however, the unions are not so sure what it is they won.

Three educators appointed by the state board of elementary and secondary education this month began reviewing the evaluation instrument, which assesses teachers on whether they have attempted and accomplished a lengthy list of tasks within a class period.

The problem, as the unions see it, is that the review team is made up of people who share the same philosophical bent as the Louisiana State University professor who authored the evaluation.

"We fear that the education community is not going to get any recommendation from these three far off from what we already have," said Jeff Simon, communications director for the Louisiana Association of Educators. .

The unions contend the voice they were to have in the selection process was muted.

In the less-than-streamlined way that the procedure was set in motion, an advisory panel, including union representatives, was to make recommendations on the review team to the Southern Regional Education Board, which, in turn, was to make nominations to the state beard.

At one point, a candidate proposed by the Louisiana Federation of Teachers was selected for the review panel, but he turned down the offer.

Sue Weaver, a spokesman for the state beard, said the unions had the opportunity for input as members of the advisory committee. "That issue [of philosophical bent] may have been raised in the newspaper, but apparently not prior to the time it was sent to the board."

The review panel has its work cut out for it. Recommendations are due to the state board by Oct. 1, and union leaders are skeptical that a thorough review can be completed in less than a month.

"We made it very clear to the beard [that] if they think they are going to come in here and put a Band-Aid on this ... they are very badly mistaken," said Fred Skelton, president of the L.F.T. "This program was seriously flawed. There is going to have to be major surgery." --K.D.

Vol. 11, Issue 03, Page 1

Published in Print: September 18, 1991, as State Journal: Band-Aid Or Major Surgery?
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