Tuesday's School Board races in Hillsborough could provide a window into teacher attitudes about EET
How do rank-and-file teachers feel about the Gates-funded education reform effort in Hillsborough County?
Tuesday's Hillsborough County School Board returns could tell the story. The district has more than 13,000 teachers, and in a low turn-out primary they could make a difference.
Or not. Money, at least from administration officials and organized labor, seems to be going to those candidates who support Empowering Effective Teachers.
Incumbent Jack Lamb, the biggest fundraiser at $55,000, logged contributions this week from several officers in the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association, including president Jean Clements. Lamb is a big supporter of EET. His opponent, Cindy Stuart, has said that, as a longtime PTA leader, she has the ear of teachers who are troubled by the new evaluation system. "Where is the empowering in what we are doing to our teachers?" she asked last month at the Tiger Bay forum.
Another test will come in District 7, a crowded field that includes EET critic Michael Weston, a math teacher who has raised only $21,000, most of it his own (a loan). That group also includes incumbent Carol Kurdell, who has worked closely with EET administrators as part of her School Board job. Clements gave to Kurdell as well. Her support should not come as a surprise. From the outset, Clements has worked in close collaboration with the district to make sure teachers' input is included throughout the process.
Administration officials, union leaders, peer evaluators and mentors say that, by and large, teachers are getting used to the new system, value the feedback they are receiving and appreciate its advantages over state-mandated reforms in other districts. Teachers who don't like the system tell a much different story. But, whether they trust newcomers such as Weston and Stuart - or go to the polls in significant numbers - remains to be seen.