California is one of 11 states to recently receive an overall grade of “F” in a think tank’s report card evaluating education.
The StudentsFirst report repeatedly emphasized using students test scores to evaluate teachers and decide how much funding schools would receive, but did not consider student test scores in the report. Instead the report focused on how states evaluate teachers, empower parents and allocate funding.
Each grade included a slew of suggestions regarding funding, how teachers are evaluated and increasing the number of charter schools.
While Gloria Mercado-Fortine, William S Hart School Board member agreed with some suggestions, she strongly disagreed that California should allow mayoral control of money for education as a way to decrease red tape surrounding the allocation of state funding.
“Leave education in the hands of educators,” Mercado-Fortine said. “For example, the mayor of LA took over several schools in unified school district and if you look at data, he put a lot of money into it but they are doing poorly.”
Mercado-Fortine said the Hart District already evaluates teachers and administrators a minimum of every other year, and “shame on” school districts that don’t.
She added that during layoffs the districts decisions are based on seniority, but may consider evaluations in the future depending on the results of a lawsuit brought against the Los Angeles School District regarding teachers being laid off based on seniority.
Mercado-Fortine also thought increasing the number of people that can approve charter schools could be a positive change.
“I’d be careful on who, but I can see educational entities beyond school districts, lets say colleges or universities doing that,” Mercado-Fortine said. “These are professionals, I cannot see mayors or politicians doing that.”
But Mercado-Fortine suggested that people research StudentsFirst before taking everything it says for face value.
“The report has good points but comes out from Michelle Rhee, with StudentsFirst, and they have a certain agenda and philosophies that have to be considered,” Mercado-Fortine said.
Rhee, head of the reform lobbying organization, left her position as chancellor of D.C. Public Schools after allegations arose that teachers were helping students cheat on tests. Schools she oversaw showed significant decrease in test scores after she left. in 2010.
With little to no experience in running a school district, Rhee had been promoted to chancellor by then-Mayor Adrian Fenty in 2007 under the condition that he support her decisions, which led to the closure of 23 schools a cut of about 15 percent of the jobs from the central office staff.
Additional reporting by MSNBC.