The East Baton Rouge Parish School Board approved a plan Thursday that aims to catapult the school system from near the bottom into the top 10 academically in Louisiana by the year 2020, but not before removing a controversial provision that called for automatically firing a quarter of the poorest-performing teachers.
The vote for a new strategic plan for the school system was 7-4.
The board rejected a push to delay until October voting on the plan, more than two years in the making and which sat on the shelf for the past 20 months.
“It provides a road map so that people can judge progress towards a bold goal,” said Dennis Blunt, co-chairman of the 33-member Committee for Educational Excellence that developed the plan.
Those voting to approve the strategic plan were Jerry Arbour, Connie Bernard, Jill Dyason, Craig Freeman, Barbara Freiberg, David Tatman and Evelyn Ware-Jackson. Those voting against were Randy Lamana, Vereta Lee, Kenyetta Nelson-Smith and Tarvald Smith.
Before the final vote, Freiberg persuaded her colleagues to remove the provision to dismiss the 25 percent of teachers who perform the worst statewide on teacher evaluations.
Instead, only teachers deemed “ineffective” on the evaluations, a much-smaller percentage, will be removed, and only after given a chance to improve as state law allows. The plan left in place a plan to reward the top 25 percent of teachers.
The vote in favor of Freiberg’s amendment was 8-3, with board members Lee, Nelson-Smith and Ware-Jackson voting no.
James Finney, a board watcher, said Freiberg’s amendment left the plan “vastly improved,” but he said the state’s COMPASS evaluation system, which assumes that roughly 10 percent of teachers will fall short, is also flawed.
“You could have Nobel Prize winners, shove them in a room, and automatically 10 percent would be losers,” Finney said.
Like Finney, teacher union representatives said the plan was improved without the provision, but still needed more work.
“So often, people want to do something to help education and they don’t talk to the educators,” said Carnell Washington, president of the East Baton Rouge Parish Federation of Teachers.
The 21-page plan has many provisions, including sacking principals who don’t meet multiyear goals and paying teachers more if they’ll work in struggling schools.
ä on the internet:
The school system has posted documents connected with the strategic plan here: http://news.ebrschools.org/explore.cfm/