TJ Dufresne: A good education bill |

TJ Dufresne: A good education bill

TJ Dufresne
Summit County

Cheers to State Senator Dan Gibbs for his commitment to help children through his support of the Ensuring Quality Instruction through Educator Effectiveness (EQuITEE) bill (Senate Bill 191). This bill is designed to revise Colorado statutes to improve education and teacher effectiveness throughout Colorado. As an active parent who cares about the education and future of all Colorado children, this bill makes me optimistic about the future of education in Colorado. Even in these budget-cutting times.

Headlines recently stated that “Colorado failed to win millions through the federal education grant called Race to the Top.” The EQuITEE bill will make student achievement and teaching incentive changes that will help Colorado be a stronger contender for hundreds of millions of dollars for education.

We know that effective principals and teachers have a significant impact on the academic and social achievement of children. Now that gaps in achievement are being identified (in part through the Growth Model in Colorado), we see that there is hard work to be done to change the way educators teach our children. The EQuITEE bill will increase the focus on leadership and instruction.

The EQuITEE bill will tie principals’ performance evaluations directly to at least 2/3 weight of students’ academic growth and to their school’s teachers’ demonstrated or increase in effectiveness. Thus, principals will have the incentive to actively support the teachers in their building when their own evaluations are tied to their teachers’ success.

The EQuITEE bill will allow for highly effective teachers to attain new career ladders that offer financial incentives and encourage them to take on more responsibilities. These additional responsibilities will come in the form of mentoring and supporting fellow teachers. The end result will be more access to professional development that will directly lead to higher effectiveness in the classroom.

Another positive feature of the bill is that it prevents teachers from being forced to teach at a school they do not want to work in. It also allows principals and top administrators to take on teachers that are the best possible fit for each school. We want teachers and administration to work well together. The better the fit, the better the instruction. The better the instruction, the better the student achievement.

The EQuITEE bill also addresses the tricky three years to make tenure situation. The bill will give principals greater flexibility in retaining and maintaining highly effective new teachers in their buildings and changes the probationary period. Principals will not offer tenure too quickly and be able to retain new teachers that have high potential. The bill will also allow principals to place teachers with consecutive years of ineffective ratings on probation to improve their effectiveness without having to let them go. A win-win situation: new promising teachers are retained in their District, seasoned teachers get re-charged and motivated, and the students have higher quality teachers.

The EQuITEE bill is a great start to set the stage to increase educational funding through federal dollars. And, it will have a significant impact on the quality of instruction, school administration, and each student’s achievement in Colorado. This is the greatest gift we can give our children. Thank you, Senator Gibbs, for supporting a bill proposal well done.

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