The CT General Assembly has declined to weaken the State’s consensus-driven teacher evaluation plan this term – and has taken steps to beef up minority teacher recruitment efforts. No and yes on these two questions were the right moves.
Here are the details on the two issues:
No, with a Caveat. The General Assembly this term did not take up a proposal that would have banned State student achievement test results as a factor in teacher evaluations. Instead, the State Board of Education counsel to delay action for a year will be followed, as a Courant editorial explained. It certainly will be an eventful year assessment-wise, with the baseline results related to the Common Core State Standards expected later this summer.
Yes, with Determination. Looking at the issue of minority teacher recruitment, the State has long recognized the disparity between the numbers of students – and teaching staff – of color. This month, the General Assembly unanimously passed legislation to set up an oversight council at the State Department of Education to encourage middle and high school students of color to enter the teaching profession; recruit college students into teacher preparation programs; and retain CT minority teachers as well as attract teachers from other states and professions into CT classrooms.
Statewide data show Latino children make up 21 percent of the CT student population, with Latino teachers comprising 4 percent of the workforce. Black students constitute 13 percent of the population whereas 3 percent of teachers are Black. The teacher corps in CT has been 92 percent white for many years.
The new law, Public Act No. 16-41, sets up a task force to analyze minority teacher shortages and school district demographics – and identify best practices.