One Small Step for Education Reform (in Colorado)

Colordao’s Legislature (over the strident opposition of teachers’ unions), has passed legislation that, in the words of this article from the Associated Press:

Requires teachers to be evaluated annually, with at least half of their rating based on whether their students progressed during the school year. Beginning teachers will have to show they’ve boosted student achievement for three straight years to earn tenure.

Teachers could lose tenure if their students don’t show progress for two consecutive years. Under the old system, teachers simply had to work for three years to gain tenure, the typical wait around the country.

Colorado took initiative, in part, to put itself in position to receive funding under the Obama administration’s Race to the Top competition, a $4.35 billion pot of stimulus money designed to prod just such changes.

Unfortunately, teachers won’t be at risk of losing tenure until 2015 because lawmakers slowed down the process under political pressure from the teachers’ union. Teachers can appeal dismissal all the way to the state Supreme Court, and school districts have the burden of proving why they should be terminated.

Heaven forbid that teachers who we rely on to educate the next generation be held to the same standards as an average office worker in terms of performance evaluation. Nonetheless, it is a step forward for Colorado and should be an example for New Mexico if our next Governor is serious about turning New Mexico around.