In a rushed House Education Committee hearing today, Senate Bill 3 received nearly all of the proposed amendments without any significant debate thanks to the committee chair, Representative Andy Brenner, who shut down the conversation.

You can read about the amendments in yesterday’s post here: http://plunderbund.com/2016/12/04/exclusive-an-advance-look-at-the-new-senate-bill-3/

The bill is back on the schedule for another committee hearing on Wednesday morning at 9:30 am when additional amendments are expected to be tacked on with the bill passing shortly afterward and heading to the full House for rapid approval.

You can find whatever details exist about the bill here: https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-documents?id=GA131-SB-3.  Of course, since all of this is happening so quickly outside of the public eye, you will not find an updated analysis of the legislation any time soon.

Now, since there IS technically another “hearing” on the bill, you could always submit your thoughts in the form of written testimony to Brenner’s office (http://www.ohiohouse.gov/andrew-brenner), or you could simply find the nearest wall or any empty room and share your informed thoughts there.

I’m sorry to be such a Debbie Downer, but that’s the reality with this leadership and GOP-controlled General Assembly – they do not care about you or about reality.

Here’s my simple story:

I emailed a couple of representatives, including Brenner, about a concern with one of the amendments (AM2793, starting on page 106 of the Omnibus bill introduced today).  I specifically wanted to point out the impracticality of this proposed change:

e) Beginning with the 2017-2018 school year, the board may elect not to conduct an evaluation of a teacher who is participating in the teacher residency program established under section 3319.223 of the Revised Code for the year during which that teacher takes, for the first time, at least half of the performance-based assessment prescribed by the state board of education for resident educators.

Here’s the deal:

First, the summative assessment, or RESA, contains four tasks that resident educator license holders submit during their 3rd year in the Resident Educator (RE) Program.  Two of those tasks are supposed to be submitted by December 15 and the other two submitted by February 15.  The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) has outsourced the RESA to a company called Educopia, so the entire system is managed by the California-based company, not ODE.

This creates a couple of inherent problems with the implementation of this proposed amendment.  Since districts could only exempt teachers from OTES if they submit “at least half” of the assessment, districts would not actually be able to determine if a teacher could be exempted until December 15 (at the earliest) or February 15 (at the latest) since REs can submit either some or all of the required tasks in a given year.

In addition, since Educopia is self-managed, districts do not actually have access to the submission system in order to actually know whether a RE has submitted ANY of the tasks by the assigned deadlines, but instead relies on ODE to find out and then inform the district if any tasks are missing.  But the RE is not actually required to submit any tasks in this year even though it is advisable (REs get three attempts to pass RESA over a three year period).

Therefore, a district could make the decision to take this new exemption, then discover some time after February 15 that the teacher did not fulfill their obligation, resulting in the school district now being responsible for completing a full-year evaluation for the teacher in a two-month period (essentially no longer following the OTES model; evaluations are required by law to be completed by May 1).

My recommendation to Brenner was to simply allow districts to opt out of evaluation teachers during this year entirely, removing the requirement that the teacher submit “at least half” of the RESA (most teachers do not waste this year anyway).

During the committee meeting, when Representative Teresa Fedor brought up my concern, Brenner shut her down by saying he did not see any problems with the time line and the amendment quickly passed as written.

Now, is this a big deal?  No, not really.  Districts will simply not be able to take advantage of this change, rendering it useless.

But that’s my point – it’s indeed NOT a big issue, doesn’t change much about the overall bill, but the time line actually DOES matter if the intent was to provide some relief for both districts and Resident Educators.  The fact that Brenner simply dismissed the suggestion (he didn’t call or respond to my email offering greater explanation) clearly shows that he is completely out of touch with the actual implementation of the legislation that he is passing and truly does not care what is happening in our schools.

Again, feel free to reach out to Brenner and make your educated suggestions for appropriate revisions based on your real-world experiences as educators.  Seriously – if it makes you feel better to fire off your thoughts then, by all means, do so.

Just don’t expect Brenner to care.

 

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