By Rick Hess
Big news yesterday out of the West. While at the NewSchools Venture Fund Annual Summit, got word that Mike Johnston's path-breaking teacher quality bill (SB 10-191) had made it through the Colorado House on a 36-29 vote. This, as I've said previously in the midst of the fight over Florida SB 6, is "seriously big stuff." Indeed, Pam Benigno, director of the Education Policy Center at the Independence Institute, called it a "landmark day in Colorado," saying the bill "will align evaluated teacher and principal effectiveness more closely with student academic growth and weaken tenure protections for consistently ineffective teachers."
This changes the game when it comes to teacher tenure in Colorado. It sets a crucial marker in shifting teacher evaluation from paperwork and seniority to a focus on performance. Mondo credit is due to Mike and the entire Colorado reform community. I remember talking about the bill's prospects with Mike about three months ago and it was unclear whether he'd be able to move even a severely compromised version of this legislation very far. The bill even then looked like something of a long shot. I saw him just over a week ago and it was still, even after State Senate passage, real unclear whether they'd get the votes. This is a remarkable feat of politicking by a freshman State Senator, and just a remarkable accomplishment for the reform community, including Colorado chief Dwight Jones, Jones' crack team, and a coalition that just did a remarkable job of changing the landscape. This also positions Colorado supremely well going into round two of Race to the Top, and now makes it almost inevitable that Colorado is going to emerge as a round two winner. Big congrats all around.