Senator Aaron Osmond Introduces Senate Bill 64 — Public Education Employment Reform Bill

Senator Aaron Osmond is sponsoring SB64 Public Education Employment Reform in the 2012 Legislative Session after gathering input from educators and education stakeholders across the state about how to change the way the public education workforce is managed, including discussions about implementing performance pay and removing so-called “teacher tenure.” Read Sen. Osmond’s previous blog posts on this issue: “Seeking Input and Perspective from Our Educators: Comments and Thoughts on the Education Employee Reform Act Proposal” and “Lessons Learned and Next Steps: Sen. Osmond Discusses Public Education Reform Bill Feedback.”

Senator Aaron Osmond, Utah Senate District 10
Senator Aaron Osmond, Utah Senate District 10

This bill is not intended to solve every problem within public education, but to begin the process of improving how we manage our personnel and setting a new expectation for what we will be looking for in the leadership of our district and school administration.

On Wednesday, Feb. 8, I released Senate Bill 64 — Public Education Employment Reform for public view. Per my original commitment to you, as the professionals of public education in Utah, I am writing this blog post to give you specific details relative to this new bill for your review and understanding.

First of all, you need to know that this bill is the result of the collective feedback I received from you (teachers, classified employees, and administrators) as I traveled the state and visited your schools. You told me what we needed to change in how we manage our personnel in Public Education in order to drive greater academic results in our schools. The bill that follows is the result of your feedback. Thank you!

Involvement of Education Stakeholders

I am also proud to report that this bill reflects significant input and insight from members of the Utah State Board of Education, the Utah Education Association, and the Utah School Board Association. While each organization must still announce their own formal position on the bill, it represents hours of collaborative meetings, conference calls, discussions and compromise from all parties involved. I want to thank each organization for their willingness to be involved in this process. It has been a challenging but rewarding effort to push forward real human resources reform via collaborative discussion and compromise with all stakeholders at the table.

Summary of Senate Bill 64 Core Changes

Please note that I have not outlined all of the changes here, but instead I focus your attention on the core changes proposed by this bill. I encourage you to read the entire bill to fully understand all the positive changes and improvements we are making to personnel evaluation and management. Here are the core items for your consideration:

  • More Accountability for Administration: This bill introduces a more rigorous and performance-oriented expectation for both school and district administration, as follows:
    • Annual Evaluation: Beginning in 2014-15 School Year, administrators will be reviewed annually in four categories:
      • Student Achievement Indicators: based on student growth and proficiency indicators as found in the Annual School Grade
      • Leadership Skills: based on feedback from management, employees, and parents through a 360 evaluation tool;
      • Proficiency in Completing Annual Evaluations: based on completing evaluation of employees for which the administrator has responsibility; and
      • Other Categories: other areas the local school board feels are relevant.
    • Transition to Performance Pay: In this bill, districts are instructed to begin to transition administrators’ salaries to performance pay, based on the results of their annual evaluations. The intention is to convert any new raises, merit increases or performance increases to variable performance pay until at least 15 percent of the administrators’ direct pay is tied to the result of their evaluations (or in other words, the result of their leadership).
  • Establishes Annual Evaluations for All Employees: This bill reinforces that all public education employees shall have an annual evaluation (semi-annual for provisional employees) conducted their by school or district administration.  It also requires:
    • New Performance Categories: The Utah State Board of Education shall establish four evaluation categories (Levels 1 through 4, with 1 being the lowest category).
    • Annual Report of Evaluation: Placement Districts shall be required to provide an annual report of the number of employees who were placed within each evaluation category, by employee type (while keeping the names of employees confidential).
    • 120-Day Timeline for Remediation: Administrators shall now be given a timeline that requires them to complete the process of notice, remediation and summative decisions relative to employee performance problems within 120 school days.
    • Termination for Repeat Poor Performance: If an employee is found to be repeating the same poor performance issue within three years of a prior poor performance review, a district may elect to not renew or terminate that employee without a new remediation process.
    • Performance Tied to Increases: This bill requires that an employee may no longer advance on a salary schedule if they were rated in the lowest performance categories on their last evaluation.
  • Clarifications, Better Definitions and Improvements to the Statute: This bill clarifies and simplifies different sections of the current code that have caused problems in various personnel cases related to past language in the statute. These are the main topics covered in this legislation.

I am very pleased with the progress we made in collaboratively working on a bill to improve the consistency in how we manage our personnel within Public Education throughout the state. Again, remember, this bill is not intended to solve every problem within public education, but to begin the process of improving how we manage our personnel and setting a new expectation for what we will be looking for in the leadership of our district and school administration.

Together we can and will create a more accountable, innovative and improved public education system!

I am looking forward to presenting these concepts to my colleagues on the State Board of Education, the Senate and in the House over the next week or so.

Thank you for your support!

You may contact Senator Aaron Osmond, Senate Education Standing Committee Chairman, at 801-897-8127 or aosmond@le.utah.gov.

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8 comments to Senator Aaron Osmond Introduces Senate Bill 64 — Public Education Employment Reform Bill

  • Senator

    As I am sure you have heard before, teachers are not afraid of accountability so long as it includes thing they have control over. Misinterpreting what teachers (via administrators) have control over and yet holding them accountable regardless may yield undesirable consequences among/between administrators, teachers, and students. I have said before that a school is what comes to it, and that schools are forums of human nature. Much of what is dealt with in school are things that teachers/administrators don’t have control over. In many instances this includes student performance on CRT tests as students know the tests are not required for graduation.

    In terms of merit pay, I personally would not mind so long as it is “optional” and “additional” to current and subsequent collectively bargained salaries. Merit pay as proposed (pay cuts) will kill collaboration and moral as teachers compete against each other and administrators unreasonably bear down, affecting employee relations. Please review experiments by other states in this regard before you take such a leap.

    Thank you for your efforts in moving education forward in our state.

  • Jo Egelund

    I want to thank you for spending so much time on SB 64 Public Education Employment Reform, as written. The collaborative efforts on behalf of educators has been fanatastic. It holds all educators accountable for their individual jobs. As a teacher of 22 years, I am in support of having great teachers educating our children. I truly thank you for opening the doors of communication on behalf of teachers and the wonderful students they teach. Thank you.
    Jo Egelund, parent and teacher
    President, Weber Education Association

  • Rita Myrup

    Senator,
    I appreciate you taking the time and energy to listen to your constituents on this bill.

    However, while we are addressing accountability, we are leaving out the most important people in this discussion, the students. I teach Jr. High at an inner-city school. Daily I have students tell me that school does not count until they get to High School. Until there are consequences for failure for elementary and Jr. High students, there will not be a major change in academic scores. Until a student MUST pass or attend remedial classes until they pass each grade level, students and even many parents will not see any need to do well until graduation requirements become an incentive.

    Very seldom do I have students who fail because they can’t do the assignments. They fail because they won’t do the assignments. Parents, especially those of at-risk students, do not see the significance of failure for upper elementary and Jr. High students either without remedial consequences for failure.

    The old saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink,” certainly applies here.
    Rita

  • Chris Isom

    I am pleased with a different way of creating accountability, not only of teachers, but parents and students, alike. The students need to feel accountable, so as not to be able to have negative infuence on teachers that they don’t like. I am in favor of rewarding teachers for their advanced education, however, I am not in favor of tenure for teachers. Having my children go through the public education system in Utah, there were a few teachers that really did not like the students and didn’t teach the students, but as parents we could do nothing about because of their tenure. Leaving parents and students with an opt out for such teachers would be benificiary for the students of Utah.

  • Terry Biggar

    Senator,
    I have been a high school teacher in Utah for 30+ years. I don’t usually vote Republican, because I have never felt that my views or concerns were represented, valued or even listened to. Thank you for listening and being wise enough to compromise on such an important issue. Thank you for realizing there is more to improving education than just beating up on teachers. I totally support this start at improving education for Utah students. I hope you will keep up the dialogue.

  • Marcus Hadlock

    I really appreciate you listening to us as educators. It means a lot. I was curious though. If you want to model this so it is more like the private sector, why haven’t you included money for bonuses for very good teachers? My principle talks about a system set up in Texas where bonuses are given to teachers that perform well in schools with large populations of disadvantaged students. This would help get the best teachers where they are most needed. Those bonuses were very large though. Some of them $20-$30,000. Not cheap, but I have friends that get bonuses much bigger than that for doing outstanding work. It would also have to be big to lure the best teachers to those schools. Otherwise it wouldn’t be enough to motivate them to want to move.

  • Senator Osmond,
    I was excited when I read of your extensive reasearch into current educational issues in Utah. You’ve really done your homework, and I applaud you for that. I read your areas of concern from a year ago, and teacher morale topped the list. You also spoke of the issue of educational funding. I was encouraged, but I was sorry to see that the current SB64 doesn’t seem to address either of these areas. While evaluation is important for all educators, that’s not causing the main problems–morale and funding are the main problems.
    I’ve been a teacher for over 20 years, and I’ve never been as discouraged as Iam this year. I have 31 fourth graders, and 11 of them are intensively below grade level on the DIBELS. First of all this is the largest amount of students I’ve ever taught,the lowest group I’ve ever had,and the group with the most emotional and behavioral issues. When I ask for help for them, I’m told over and over there is no money, and maybe next year we can do something. Meanwhile, these students are suffering, and it breaks my heart.
    We went to the superintendent last year and petitioned for another teacher, but we were basically laughed at because of the lack of funding. I keep working harder, running faster, and jumping higher through all the hoops, but it can’t make up for the lack of funding. I used to be able to work on projects to help students and be compensated for them, but not any more. Teachers need incentives. They need to feel like someone values them.
    I taught English at a Japanese junior high school for four years. They treat their teachers with respect and compensate them accordingly.
    Someone needs to stand up for teachers instead of acting like we’re the problem. We simply are not!
    I’m currently being paid for half time, and I’m working full time hours. I have spent 200 extra hours and $500 of my own money on materials to help my class since the beginning of the school year. How long can the teachers of Utah be expected to perform at a higher and higher level and be given less and less to do it with? It makes no sense!It defies logic! It’s not reasonable! It’s just plain wrong! Instead of figuring out how to get rid of poor teachers, why don’t we focus on helping the bulk of the teachers who put their hearts and souls (and extra time and money) into providing a quality education for the students of Utah!

  • […] accountability.  Sen. Osmond wrote a blog post outlining the provisions of the bill here.  The bill has overwhelming support in the education community.  The bill really is a […]