A teachers’ union and its message

What does the state’s teacher of the year think of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s plans to shakeup education?

David Bosso’s comments to the governor during a forum in Berlin seemed to be pretty straightforward, but it has sparked a fierce online back-and-forth between the state’s largest teachers union and the administration.

The headline to the Connecticut Education Assocation article on its blog reads, “”Teacher of the Year Tells Governor His Plan is Hurting Teacher Morale.”

The governor’s communications director quickly shot back on Twitter, “Not accurate, but points for creative editing. Misinformation won’t help our kids.”

In fact, the quote the union article uses is actually not exactly what Bosso said to Malloy.

“A focus on teachers and evaluation is hurting teacher morale, and, when teacher morale declines, teaching and learning suffer, and this needs to be avoided at all costs,” he says according to the CEA article of Malloy’s plan to link “subjective [teacher] evaluations by principals” to tenure and certification decisions.

Here’s the exact quote, according to a CEA video and a review of his full recorded remarks by the Mirror.

“I think it’s important to consider the potential effects of the demoralization on teachers perceptions of their effectiveness, whether rightly or wrongly, or unwittingly or not… So when teacher morale declines, for whatever reason, teaching and learning suffer. And no matter the end game, this needs to be avoided at all cost.”

The article’s reference to a principal deciding a teacher’s grade is also not completely acurate. While it was discussed by the committee finalizing the details for the evaluations, it was never actually decided whether the principal, a team of teachers or a third-party would oversee the evaluations. In New Haven, an independent evaluator is brought in when a teacher disputes their evaluation.

Also, the framework for teacher evaluations, which was agreed upon by the CEA, weigh 15 percent of the grade from surveys from parents, student, and other teachers in the school. Another 23 percent of the evaluation would be based on their student’s growth on standardized tests.

This isn’t the first (or likely the last) time the CEA and the administration will take their issues with one another online, as there are five weeks remaining before the legislative session adjourns. So, it’s safe to say the CEA will continue running controversial headlines like, “Malloy Calls His Reform Scary.

By the way, the full quote from Malloy during that town hall meeting in Waterbury was, “Change is scary,” referring to all the pushback he’s been receiving from the teachers’ union.