Recently a distinguished group of public school superintendents around the country signed off on an essay which appeared in many major newspapers. It is an important statement of support for what must be the next phase of education reform, the management of human resources. If you didn’t see it in your local paper, I urge you to “google” “An Education Manifesto”. In response to it, I wrote the following, which was published in The Houston Chronicle:
“Hats off to HISD Superintendent Terry Grier and his colleagues around the country for this most timely statement of commitment to the next frontier in the standards and accountability based education reform efforts that began with the publication of A Nation at Risk in 1983. As the manifesto so accurately describes, the lead element of this frontier is almost certainly the necessary transformation in educator preparation, recruitment, licensure, assignment, compensation, assessment, and retention in order to produce a highly effective educator in every classroom. It is the highest priority of every education reform advocacy group in America and it is the critical element in moving to postsecondary readiness for our students. In Texas, we must move quickly to take advantage of the breakthroughs in the elevation of standards and accountability embodied in House Bill 3, adopted in 2009, by aligning educator preparation policy to accommodate the intent of this legislation. As the manifesto suggests, it’s mainly about changing adult behavior in deference to the needs of our kids, and the time is overdue. This will require only a bare minimum of new legislation, but will necessitate bold leadership by the agencies responsible for rule-making and implementation of educator preparation policy, primarily the Texas Education Agency, the State Board for Educator Certification, and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
Our organization, the Texas Institute for Education Reform (TIER), has outlined the following summary of its key principles and policy advocacy points to guide these initiatives:
- The primary objective and organizing principle of educator preparation should be the advancement of Texas student achievement.
- Texas should fully define “teacher effectiveness” standards in terms of the personal qualities, temperament, and performance that are expected.
- Texas should transform educator preparation programs from compliance and input-based into customer-driven institutions to meet the postsecondary readiness expectations of HB 3.
- We should adopt educator preparation program accreditation assessments grounded in output and performance-based criteria, so that Texas becomes the model for value-added evaluation of such programs.
- We should emphasize rule-making that allows for the maximum prudent flexibility for school district administrators to manage their human resources.
- We should eliminate teacher retention, compensation, and assignment based on seniority and other “inputs”.
And, incidentally, we should vote for those candidates at the local school board and state level who are committed to advancing these principles.”
We are currently traveling the state conducting briefings on these and other priorities for the next legislative session beginning in January 2011. For more information, visit our web site at www.texaseducationreform.org.