Racing to the Bottom

Racing to the Bottom

April 6, 2010 Posted by Steve Bowen - 1 Comment

Done and done.

The House, without any debate, has approved the Senate amendment to LD 1799, and has seized from Maine’s school districts the right to select their own models for evaluating teachers and school administrators by using student achievement data.

What the MEA is able to achieve over here in Augusta is truly astounding. An amendment is crafted behind closed doors, it is distributed to senators only moments before it is put to vote, then, after some debate, it is approved at about 8pm. The next morning, the amendment is distributed to the House, and less than 30 minutes after the House session begins, at 9:30am, it is put to a vote there and, without debate, is passed.

School board members across Maine went to bed last night thinking they could determine their own evaluation procedures, and today, as of a few minutes ago an unelected panel of bureaucrats and special interests has been given that power instead.

This was masterful work by the MEA, and that organization’s ongoing success at blocking meaningful education reform strongly suggests that what needs to be created is some organization to rival them, an organization that speaks on behalf of reform-minded Mainers, and one that can push back against the MEA and the other special interests that dominate public education policy in Maine today.

More importantly, this organization needs to be well-organized enough and powerful enough that legislators are as scared of it as they are of the MEA.  Such an organization would doubtless take years to build, but it is hard to see how this state will ever be able to move forward with meaningful education reform unless there is someone over here in Augusta – someone that legislators are afraid of – that is pushing a reform agenda.

I don’t see how it happens any other way.

So, any volunteers?