Bill by Rogers and Strohm adds flexibility to education

A measure designed to return flexibility in evaluating teachers back to local school districts has been approved 80-0 by the Oklahoma House.

“We applaud Rep. Rogers and Sen. John Ford for listening to educators’ voices in this important legislation,” said Janet Dunlop, associate superintendent at Broken Arrow Public Schools. “In a time of budget crisis, it is imperative that we examine return on investment for each initiative. While the qualitative portion has provided an excellent tool for teacher professional growth and significant return on investment, the quantitative piece should be a local board decision.”

House Bill 2957, authored by State Rep. Michael Rogers and co-authored by State Rep. Chuck Strohm would eliminate the quantitative measurement portion of the Teacher and Leader Effectiveness system (TLE). The effectiveness of the quantitative evaluation system is being challenged in court across the United States as being unfair, overly complex and not reflecting teacher effectiveness.

HB 2957 would retain the qualitative measurement portion of TLE which is already being used to evaluate teachers based on classroom instruction and learning environment.

“After attending numerous meetings last summer exploring the shortcomings of the quantitative portion of TLE, it became apparent that this method of evaluating teachers is fraught with problems. Parents, educators and administrators from Bixby, Jenks and across the state have expressed concerns reiterating what I learned last summer and I am honored to co-author this bill” said Strohm, R-Jenks/Bixby.

The measure could save local school districts millions, and would save the Oklahoma Department of Education more than $500,000 annually. The measure also creates a professional development component to be used as another qualitative tool in the evaluation process. The Department of Education will create the professional development component to be introduced during the 2018-2019 school year.

The Department of Education and school administrators from across the state are in strong support of the bill.

Also, Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman said a rumor that the state plans to raid the teacher retirement fund is false.

“There is absolutely no way the Oklahoma Senate would ever consider any plan to raid the teacher retirement system to balance next year’s budget,” Bingman said. “We’ve worked too hard to strengthen TRS and reduce the unfunded liability that had threatened it in the past.

“Evidently, there are certain groups stoking fear among current and retired teachers in an effort to justify the money they take from teachers to lobby lawmakers. The plain truth is Republican leadership in the Senate and House has done more than previous regimes ever did to shore up the state’s pension funds. We’ve appropriated $300 million each of the past three years to the teacher retirement system, safeguarding the retirement of thousands of classroom teachers.

“We’re not going to jeopardize the pensions of teachers – anyone who says differently is either intentionally misleading you or they are greatly misinformed”