Cook in Detroit News: Proposed evaluation system can work if it’s fully funded

A proposed new system for evaluating teachers can be a major step forward to achieving fair and reliable evaluations, but only if proper funding is in place, MEA President Steve Cook wrote in a column published Wednesday in the Detroit News.

The Michigan Council for Educator Effectiveness recently released a detailed set of recommendations for instating a new teacher evaluation system, based on what the Council calls “rigorous standards of professional practice and of measurement.” The goal of the proposed system is to enhance instruction, improve student achievement and support ongoing professional development.

“While I applaud the recommendations of the council, I have two concerns as the Legislature moves forward with putting the council’s recommendations into law,” Cook wrote.

“First, all of the good work the council has done in developing this new evaluation process will be wasted if the Legislature does not fund it. The success of this new system will depend on providing quality professional development for teachers and extensive training for administrators. These things cost money.

“Second, can the Legislature put the recommendations of the council into legislation without partisan politics undermining its work? We have seen time and again over the past few years how the Legislature has used ‘education reform’ as an opportunity to punish teachers and other school employees. Improving the teacher evaluation process is too important to allow that to happen again.

“If the Legislature provides adequate funding — not just initially, but on a consistent basis — and partisan political agendas are kept in check, this new evaluation process will be a vast improvement over present systems.”

Click here to read Cook’s full column.