With the introduction of the Great Teachers Great Schools initiative – An Act to Promote Excellence in Public Schools – earlier this month, and the subsequent lawsuit the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) filed to challenge Attorney General Martha Coakley’s decision to certify the initiative, a lot of information, some accurate and some inaccurate, has been circulating throughout the Commonwealth.
One point being made is that a recently updated and more rigorous teacher evaluation system is already being implemented. Stand for Children was proud to join the MTA, state education leaders, and other stakeholders in advocating for that new evaluation system. Not only did we sit on the task force that made an initial set of recommendations, we educated and mobilized our membership on the issue, generating 700 pieces of written testimony from educators and parents that were submitted to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
All groups involved in advocacy around the content of the regulations were unanimously committed to creating a more functional and productive evaluation system centered on improving teaching and learning. While these evaluations represent a step in the right direction, unless key changes are made to state law, there is still no promise that all school districts will be using them as a benchmark for teacher placement anytime soon.
That’s where the Great Teachers Great Schools campaign comes in. The proposed initiative:
- Will ensure that every classroom is led by an effective teacher. This is critical to closing the alarming achievement gap in Massachusetts.
- Takes current evaluation systems one step further by guaranteeing that they will be consistently implemented by schools across the Commonwealth.
- Has received significant statewide support – a UMASS Amherst poll showed 85% of MA voters believe teacher staffing decisions should be based on performance first rather than just how long a teacher has been in the classroom.
- Successfully passed all procedural and constitutional reviews for introduction into the state legislature