Teaching Profession Opinion

Hawaii Pilots New Eval Systems while Bargaining Remains Stalled

By Justin Baeder — August 10, 2011 1 min read
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Hawaii was one of ten winners in round two of Race to the Top, and with its $75 million grant came the mandate to develop a new teacher evaluation system that includes measures of student performance.

Hawaii, like Washington DC, has a single school district, albeit for a much broader and more diverse geographic area. This means that a single entity, the Hawaii Department of Education, is responsible both for complying with the RttT terms and for implementing the new evaluation system, a situation no other entity except the District of Columbia is facing.

The problem is that teacher evaluation systems must be bargained under state law, and HDOE is currently stuck in a stalled negotiation process with the teachers’ union, the Hawaii State Teachers’ Association.

Civil Beat reports that the union has objected, but that HDOE plans to move forward with the evaluation pilot, justifying the lack of teacher involvement by arguing that no sanctions will be tied to evaluations conducted under the new system just yet. It’s not clear how the lack of sanctions allows the pilot system to circumvent the bargaining requirement.

If we want teachers to be invested in their evaluation process and to use it to guide their own professional growth, it doesn’t make sense to design the system without any teacher input.

More to the point, though, it’s simply illogical to pretend that a single, non-bargained evaluation system can be piloted and then become “bargained” at a later date. What seems much more likely to me is that the pilot will wrap up more or less successfully, and with the RttT-mandated deadline looming, there will be no option but to implement it as the permanent system. That’s not bargaining; it’s bullying.

Districts and unions must work together to design evaluation systems. As I’ve noted before, state legislatures will continue to weigh in with increasing specificity on what exactly these evaluation systems must incorporate, but it’s essential that the individual systems be developed with teachers, not imposed on teachers.

The Star-Advertiser cites Laura Goe of National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality:

[T]eacher participation is "critical to getting it done right." "The states that have had the most success are those that have had the teacher union at the table from the beginning," she said.

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