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Opinion

Does Marsh Practice What He Preaches?

Education Matters
By Larry Lee

After months of revisions and discussions, Senate Pro Tem Del Marsh has introduced his RAISE Act which morphed into the Preparing and Rewarding Educational Professionals (PREP) Act of 2016.

Here is some language in the bill:

“This bill would provide a procedure for observing and evaluating teachers, principals, and assistant principals on performance and student achievement.

“STUDENT GROWTH MODEL.  A statistical growth model used to isolate the effect and impact of a teacher on student learning, controlling for pre-existing characteristics of a student including, but not limited to, prior achievement.

“The model evaluation system developed by the department pursuant to this act shall define the elements of evaluation and standards for effectiveness for teachers providing classroom instruction at the K-12 level.”

So the good Senator’s intent is all about how teachers are evaluated, ranked and rewarded.
OK.  But does he practice what he preaches?

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For instance, Philip Bryan is his chief of staff.  Information obtained from the Alabama Open Checkbook shows that he had an annual salary in 2011 of just over $51,000.  Today he makes $146,000 a year.  My math says that’s an increase of around 180 percent in five years.

By comparison, Alabama teachers had a two percent increase in 2013.  That is their only raise in the last eight years.

How does Senator Marsh evaluate his staff.  How does he decide that someone is worthy of a $95.000 jump in five years?  Does he have a procedure for observing and evaluating staff?  If so, what is it?  Does he use a statistical growth model to determine how much impact a staffer has on the legislative process?  What are the standards his staff members must meet to get huge salary increases?
Since the legislature had to have two Special Sessions in 2015, did this count AGAINST his staff performance?

Surely, Senator Marsh has another bill waiting to be introduced.  One that would apply the same kind of standards to those who work for him as he wants to apply to teachers..  One he could dub the Politicians Rigorous Evaluation Process (PREP) act of 2016.

If he doesn’t, I think I can find some educators who will be glad to draft it for him.

Larry Lee led the study Lessons Learned from Rural Schools and is a longtime advocate for public education. Read his blog: larryeducation.com

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Larry Lee
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DIG DEEPER