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    Meeting to air views of teacher evaluations State panel in city for talks on fairness

    Ohanian Comment:Here's Democracy--Education Reform style: Only 20 preselected people will be allowed to speak--at a public meeting on the new teacher evaluation process. The participants are selected by SCORE, an ed reform group whose board of directors are all from the corporate world. Their partners include Education Consumers Foundation, one of the most anti-public school outfits I have ever encountered. Some years back, I paid for a subscription to their on-line discussion group, Education Consumers Clearinghouse, for about a year, so I'm not blowing hot air here. One time I tried to correct a misstatement by a participant with info from a highly regarded piece of research. . . and I was very careful to be low-key about it. Immediately the moderator chastized me, telling me to shut up, that they weren't organized to listen to teachers and if I wanted to spout my views I should go join another group.

    Other members of SCORE include Stand for Children, Tennessee Business Roundtable, and two chamber of commerce groups. The Tennessee School Board Association is also a partner, as well as a couple of universities. You can see the list of partners here.

    David Mansouri is the spokesman for SCORE. Here is his bio, from the SCORE website:

    David oversees SCORE's advocacy initiatives and strategic communications efforts. Before joining SCORE, he worked with the RJD Group, a public relations and political consulting firm, where he provided clients and candidates with campaign consulting, issue advocacy work, and public affairs and communications strategy. Earlier, he worked for U.S. Senator Fred Thompson and at the Tennessee Republican Party. A Tennessee native, David is a graduate of Rice University.

    The deck sure looks loaded to me. Of course,anybody can speak. And speak. And speak. You just haven't lived until you've heard concerned townsfolk go on and on about what kind of manure should be used on the ball field. And the results are a lot more beneficial that the manure that will be spread in Memphis.

    By Jane Roberts

    The independent panel in charge of assessing the fairness of the new teacher evaluation process is in Memphis today, listening to comments from city and county teachers and others.

    While the public is invited to the session, which starts at 4 p.m. at the University of Memphis, only 20 preselected people will be allowed to speak.

    "The charge we got from Gov. Haslam was to listen and gather feedback on what was working and what challenges people are facing across the state," said David Mansouri, spokesman for SCORE, the education advocacy group founded by former U.S. senator Bill Frist.

    SCORE selected the participants.

    "The report we give June 1 will reflect feedback we have heard," Mansouri said. "Based on that feedback, we will give a range of policy considerations for the state board and Department of Education to consider."

    Every person who attends the session will be asked to complete a survey.

    Today's two-hour session is the seventh hearing SCORE has conducted since Gov. Bill Haslam asked the group in late December to look into complaints that the evaluations do not fairly assess teachers' work.

    It will be followed by a second two-hour session to hear comments from other teachers in West Tennessee.

    Both meetings will be in the River Room at the University Center.

    "These meetings should be very informative," said Keith Williams, president of the Memphis teachers union.

    SCORE expects its biggest crowd here because the Memphis session combines city and county schools, both among the five largest school districts in the state.

    School districts in Tennessee are using one of four evaluation models. While teachers in both Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools are being observed four times a year, the results count for 50 percent of a teacher's total evaluation in SCS and 40 percent in Memphis.

    Under the plan MCS worked out with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, student perceptions and teacher's content knowledge are factored in at 5 percent each.

    "It is really important to hear both the challenges and successes across all four evaluation models," Mansouri said.

    People speaking about the process in MCS are: Brittany Clark, Makitra Moore, Kyle Kucharski, Peter Tang, Stephanie Fitzgerald, Kimberly Hopkins-Clark, Shawn Page and Tequila Banks.

    Speaking for SCS are: Alisa Bledsoe, Rachel Lebo, Kim Louis, Lara Charbonnet, Barbie Hode and Laura Link.

    School board participants are: Patrice Robinson and David Pickler. David Sevier will represent the state Board of Education. Kim Wirth, International Paper Foundation, will represent the business community; Meka Egwuikwe, a Memphis parent, will represent the public.

    — Jane Roberts
    Memphis Commercial Appeal


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