D.E. and L.K. both cite Ronald Willett's Washington Post essay on fourteen problems that our public schools faceÂ that legislation focused on teacher quality fails to address. Let's see how Governor Daugaard's HB 1234 addresses (or fails to address) some of these factors:
1. "...underprepared, besieged, or dogmatic K-12 principals and superintendents...": HB 1234 creates a standardized statewide principal evaluation instrument, though the "bite" of this instrument is not as clear as the bite of the new teacher evaluation system. The bill dumps significant workload on principals, with more classroom observations and evaluation decisions now tied to merit pay. The bill doesn't address superintendents.
2. "Inept... paranoid, secretive, and self-righteous" school boards:Â HB 1234 does nothing to ensure better decision-making or openness from school boards. Its elimination of continuing contract gives inept school boards more freedom to get rid of good teachers for bad reasons.
3. "Politicized state boards of education":Â HB 1234 gives the South Dakota Department of Education more power over local schools. It does not impose merit pay or new evaluations on DOE staff.
4. "A corporate testing and textbook oligopoly":Â HB 1234 will drive increased dependence on standardized testing and textbooks at every grade level.
5. "A small army of opportunistic charter school and voucher entrepreneurs":Â HB 1234 doesn't touch these issues, but the smart ALECs trying to pry public education off its axle with bills like HB 1234 must be licking their chops.
6. "A pedantic or 'tracked' Arne Duncan, and misinformed President Obama":Â Mr. Sibson will happily explain that HB 1234 is another plank in Governor Daugaard's effort to implement President Obama's agenda.
7. "The K-12 public education establishment itself, and its unions, that delayed far too long to start internally reforming their strategies and rubrics to respond to both market needs, organizational innovation, and the neural science of learning firming up in the last decade": HB 1234 certainly challenges the teacher union's vestiges of power. It challenges school districts to improve operations. But it mostly just shouts, "Do something! Do more!" without enunciating a vision beyond better test scores of what that something more should be.
8. "...collegiate schools of education that have taken a knee or run for cover rather than stand up and execute needed self-reform":Â HB 1234 does nothing to push better performance from our teacher preparation system.
9. "Growing American economic and cultural poverty surrounding too many of its children":Â HB 1234 does nothing to help children come to school better equipped to learn.
Given so many factors that affect the quality of education, Governor Daugaard's narrow focus on teacher quality is unlikely to produce remarkable improvements in student performance.