by Andrew Walden
Questionnaires given to candidates for consideration of endorsement by the Hawaii State Teachers Association often telegraph the legislative plans of the HSTA for the next session. Some of the questions for 2014 touch on predictable issues such as retirement benefits, school funding, support for education, and collective bargaining. But one carefully-couched question challenges the teacher evaluation system which the HSTA agreed to as part of its current collective bargaining agreement:
“What is your understanding of the Educator Effectiveness System (EES)? Explain your thoughts on how it will affect student achievement, teacher morale, and teacher retention.”
Its not difficult to figure out that candidates who oppose EES will be more likely to receive the HSTA endorsement than those who do.
Star-Advertiser columnist David Shapiro January 19 describes what it took for David Ige to win the HSTA gubernatorial endorsement:
Senate Ways and Means Chairman David Ige rained rhetorical bombs on the Department of Education for what he called a "Cadillac" system to evaluate teacher performance, while Luke rudely interrupted a DOE official who tried to respond.
Teacher evaluations are key to improving our schools; they were promised by the DOE when it obtained a $75 million federal Race to the Top grant and were agreed to by the teachers in their last contract.
If by "Cadillac" Ige means a rigorous program to fairly evaluate teachers so DOE can reward the best, help the lagging and weed out the hopeless, that's exactly what needs doing.
Let's hope the legislative carping isn't a sign that teachers are trying to worm out of evaluations they agreed to in order to get pay raises, just as they once before reneged on drug tests they agreed to in order to get pay raises.
Suspicious minds will note that the Hawaii State Teachers Association is one of the biggest donors to Hawaii political campaigns -- and Ige needs its support in his underdog run for governor.
PDF: FULL TEXT HSTA Candidate Questionnaire