Education Minnesota, the teachers’ union, said it can’t support Governor Tim Pawlenty’s proposal for $200 million in federal “Race to the Top” stimulus money for schools. According to Workday Minnesota:
“This federal program is supposed to be all about improving student learning and closing the achievement gap,” Education Minnesota President Tom Dooher said. “Instead, the state Department of Education’s plan emphasizes more bureaucracy, more top-down state control of Minnesota’s schools, and more testing at the expense of great teaching.” …
The Minnesota Department of Education is seeking $200 million for a four-year plan that emphasizes teacher evaluation and ratings. Participating districts would have to adopt an “enhanced” version of Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s Q Comp program. In addition, student academic growth would be extensively tracked and applied to individual teachers for everything from pay to licensure.
According to the Star Tribune, “Citing competitive reasons, the state agency hasn’t made its proposal broadly available to the public.” MPR characterizes the T-Paw administration plan as tied to Q-Comp:
Right now, Q-Comp only ties a small portion of merit pay to how well students perform on standardized tests. But with “Race to the Top,” the state is promising to increase that portion. If Minnesota wins the money, it will only go to districts that have signed a letter promising to do a number of things, including enhanced Q-Comp.
In February, a report from the state’s legislative auditor said there wasn’t enough evidence to know whether Q Comp affects student achievement because it’s voluntary and school districts have many other programs in place.
Education Minnesota offered its own proposal yesterday. Workday Minnesota reports:
The centerpiece of the union’s plan calls for turning the state’s lowest-performing schools into educator-led Centers of Teaching Excellence where the most successful teaching methods can be identified and shared with educators statewide. Students and teachers would have the benefit of small classes, the latest materials and technology, intensive professional development for teachers, and partnerships with parents and the community within the school building.
Education Minnesota’s proposal includes a “grow-your-own” program to recruit promising young people to become teachers in high-needs schools and areas of teacher shortage, such as math, science and teachers of color. It would provide college-credit courses in high school and significant opportunity for hands-on experience during the prospective teacher’s preparation.