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Special E-Focus Legislative Edition!

HEA members,

Yesterday afternoon, you received an email from Superintendent Enfield outlining her concerns about potential loss of the NCLB waiver and her statement of support for keeping the waiver. It is important for you to know that, because of the insistence of Arne Duncan and the U.S. Department of Education, a required condition for keeping Washington's waiver is mandating the use of students' state test scores in teacher evaluation.

HEA and WEA remain adamantly opposed to such a mandate for many reasons, outlined in this statement of principles about teacher evaluations. In fact, a dozen teachers from Renton and Highline sacrificed time with their students yesterday to join hundreds of other WEA members from across the state in Olympia and urge legislators to oppose the TPEP bills currently being debated in the House and Senate. HB 2800 would mandate the use of state test scores beginning in 2017-18; SB 5880 would mandate it immediately, beginning next year. You can read more about the bills here.

So, the very same day hundreds of teachers were lobbying their legislators to vote NO on these bad bills, Superintendent Enfield traveled to Olympia to express her support for "keeping the waiver" -- which is a tacit ask for them to vote YES. In stark contrast, other school districts' superintendents joined with their association presidents in sending joint letters to elected officials opposing the use of state test scores and urging them not to make any changes to our existing evaluation system. You can read copies online of the letters from Shoreline and Snohomish.

I am extremely disappointed in this turn of events, and encourage you to respond to Superintendent Enfield with your thoughts. If you would like more information about the three specific points mentioned in her letter, please see the table below.

I also encourage you to contact your legislators on non-school time, using your personal email address, and urge them to VOTE NO on HB 2800 and SB 5880!

In Solidarity,
Sue McCabe
HEA President

Supt. Enfield's Statement
HEA Clarification
Over $1 million in Title I money that we currently use to fund staff and supports to students would have to be reallocated for supplemental educational services. This means we will be required to use our federal funds to pay for tutoring for our students by outside agencies. While Highline, and Washington State, would lose some flexibility in a portion of Title I funds, the funds would still be used to help students, and any unspent supplemental service funds would revert back to district budgets. We do not believe the integrity of our teacher evaluation system is worth compromising just to keep the flexibility of this one -- comparatively minor -- funding source.
The majority of our schools would be targeted for improvement and labeled as failing. As a result, we would be required to send letters home to all families advising them of this. At a time when we need our community's support more than ever, this inaccurate portrayal of the good work happening in our schools would be devastating. To our knowledge, there is only ONE school in the entire state of Washington that would not be required to send home this type of parent notification. Moreover, the parent notification letter does not include the words "failure" or "failing" -- it must make reference to the school or district not making AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress). We view this as a prime opportunity to educate families across our state about the flawed policies of NCLB (No Child Left Behind).
There is also the potential for us to lose our $40 million Race to the Top grant that we won as part of the Road Map Consortium. To date, Highline has received $1.3 million to support our work in early learning and STEM. Much of this work has just gotten underway, and losing those dollars would force us to suspend it. There are only seven school districts involved the Race to the Top Road Map Consortium. All of those districts have signed MOUs with their respective education associations agreeing to negotiate necessary provisions of the grant. It is not necessary for the legislature to pass a bill mandating the use of state test scores in teacher evaluation statewide for Highline and the other six districts and EAs to keep the RttT grant. Local negotiations are sufficient.

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