By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Monday, March 14, Jackie Zeigler, Republican State School Board candidate, was sharply critical of the PREP Act which was narrowly given a favorable report in the State Senate Education Policy committee. The PREP Act is a tenure reform bill sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston).
Zeigler, who is a retired principal and teacher, said in a statement, “I urge legislators to do like Nancy Reagan and ‘just say no’.” “I do not believe that Montgomery politicians should be developing plans for teacher evaluations. That job should be done by your state school board – with input from all stakeholders – teachers, principals, and families of students.”
Zeigler said, “As soon as I take office, I will push forward a compilation of all studies that have already been done. I will seek input. I will seek a definite deadline to have a proposal for teacher evaluations that makes sense. The draft proposal from the school board should be published, allowing for comment by a date certain. After all, what is a state school board for (to end a sentence with a preposition)?”
Zeigler said, “The legislature is using a VAM, a Value Added Model. This approach is taken from manufacturing, and it is not appropriate. VAM assumes all products are uniform. Students are not widgets, and this approach should not be used. The PREP Act requires that a minimum of 25 percent of teacher evaluations be based on standardized test scores. This will cause more teaching to the test.”
Zeigler concluded, “This badly-designed method of evaluation will put teachers at the mercy of factors not within their control. What happens when a student has family problems or illness? I ask all friends of education to contact their state legislators. Ask them to just vote no on SB316, the PREP Act. I do not think the legislature can fix the bill, and I believe that the State Department of Education or the State School Board could better facilitate designing an evaluation system.”
Mrs. Zeigler is retired as long-time principal of award-winning Mary B. Austin Elementary School in Mobile. She worked for 37 years in the public school system, plus four years as adjunct professor at Springhill College, teaching curriculum. Zeigler is married to the state Auditor, Jim Zeigler.
Zeigler is running in the April 12 Republican runoff against recent Bentley appointee, Matt Brown. Zeigler had 36 percent of the Republican Primary vote, while Brown had just 27 percent. The district includes Mobile, Baldwin, Escambia, Conecuh, Butler, Crenshaw and Covington Counties.
The PREP Act would require that school systems in Alabama adopt a rigid teacher evaluation system designed by Marsh, would require five years of teaching, instead of the current three, before a teacher could receive tenure and would make tenure revocable after two unsatisfactory performance evaluations. It is widely opposed by teachers and school administrators.