Haynie to Mellion: Norwalk teacher evaluations mandated, unanimous

Norwalk BOE 051612 070
Norwalk Board of Education member Sue Haynie leads the Negotiations and Personnel Committee.

By Norwalk Board of Education Member Sue Haynie

NORWALK, Conn. – Good evaluations mean something. In the February 2013 edition of the Vanguard, the Norwalk Federation of Teacher’s (NFT) monthly newsletter, I have been harshly criticized by NFT leader Bruce Mellion because of my advocacy for having Norwalk become a pilot district for the new statewide System for Educator Evaluation & Development (SEED). Worth noting, the decision to become a pilot was made by unanimous vote of the BOE and, in addition, a new educator evaluation system is required in order for the State of Connecticut to conform to its NCLB (No Child Left Behind) waiver. SEED is an evaluation system for both teachers AND administrators. Mr. Mellion himself, for the last few years, has lamented the fact that the administrators had a weak evaluation process, which he viewed as unfair and sorely in need of improvement.

Weak evaluations mean something. A majority of our teachers, principals, and administrators are hard-working, caring professionals who love what they do and love kids. The SEED evaluation results are not tied to salary, benefits or bonuses and, both teachers and administrators remain protected by the Teacher Tenure Act. The SEED evaluations are designed to help good educators become even better and to help identify those educators who may want to consider another field of work. Recently, Norwalk schools won a tenured teacher termination case, the first time a tenured teacher had been terminated in Norwalk since 1973. The termination was vigorously pursued through the courts by the union, not for lack of egregious actions on the part of the teacher, but mainly because administrators had failed to follow appropriate evaluation guidelines. Norwalk won, but the case spanned four years and cost $250,000. If Norwalk had lost due to lapses in evaluation protocols, as the union expected, Mr. Mellion estimated that costs would climb to over $700,000.

Well designed evaluations are robust and inclusive to all stakeholders. The Negotiations and Personnel Committee, of which I am chair, met in late January to receive updates on the SEED evaluation process in general and the parent survey portion in particular. Both Mr. Mellion and the head of NASA, the Norwalk Assistants and Supervisors Association (administrators union), were present; it was stated that the evaluation pilot was moving along better than expected. During the meeting, we were presented with the Norwalk Parent Survey document. Questioning revealed that there had been no parent input in this Norwalk Parent Survey. Odd as it sounded, we were told that parent involvement in the design process of the parent survey was not required. Although a pilot district, where changes are to be expected, we were told that student surveys weren’t included. However, the next day, discovered within the SEED documents, was language that said parent representatives “may” be included in the development of surveys and, in fact, if Governance Councils exist at a school, parent input “must” be included. After a month of foot dragging, this week, a few parents involved in Governance Councils at three schools previewed the finished Norwalk Parent Survey. They were given copies of neither the robust state parent or student survey models nor the five-page question bank. The Norwalk Parent Surveys, with this negligible level of parent input, will be rolled out later this month. We should make time, this Spring, to ensure that Governance Councils, the PTOC (Parent Teacher Organization Council), parents and students will be apprised, informed and given a chance to provide true input in the survey development in preparation for the 2013/14 school year.

Evaluations are designed to increase student achievement. Parent/stakeholder surveys account for 10 percent of the evaluation for both teachers and administrators and are given at the whole school level, not at the teacher level. An additional 5 percent of the evaluation is based on whole school learning or student feedback. Teachers will choose just ONE survey goal to pursue as part of their evaluation; administrators will meet just ONE target related to stakeholder feedback as part of theirs. This 15 percent of parent/stakeholder feedback is one indicator among the many indicators that make up the remaining 85 percent of the evaluation. One could surmise that Mr. Mellion does not want parent or student input in the evaluation process. However, he would be the first to point to a lack of student motivation or to a lack parent’s involvement in their children’s education as one of the main causes for poor student achievement. Mr. Mellion would be the first to rally parents to fight for more funding for the schools during budget hearings. Interestingly, when it comes to meaningful participation of parents and students in a process that is specifically designed to increase student achievement and educational excellence, for Mr. Mellion, mum’s the word.

Norwalk Parent Survey


7 responses to “Haynie to Mellion: Norwalk teacher evaluations mandated, unanimous”

  1. Joe Espo

    You go girl! Just by virtue of the fact that Bruce doesn’t want you back is reason enough why everyone should re-elect you. And why doesn’t Bruce want you back? Follow the money. Look in his wallet.

  2. LWitherspoon

    Excellent point by Sue Haynie. Bruce Mellion wants parents to lobby City government for more school money, but when it comes to listening to parent and student input regarding how teachers can improve, Mellion rejects parental involvement. Mellion to Parents: “Help us get paid, and then kindly shut up!”

  3. oldtimer

    Interesting how Lwitherspoon, with no experience in a union, feels qualified to speak for Bruce Mellion, but never puts words in moccia’s mouth. Come to think of it, how do we know Lwitherspoon is not just a pen name for moccia ?

  4. LWitherspoon

    As usual, when you don’t like the substance of a comment, but can’t dispute the accuracy, you attack the commenter. This is not the first time that you’ve desecrated the truth with your sleazy innuendos, and now that we’re in an election season, I’m sure it won’t be the last. I hope that when you worked as a Police Officer, you had greater respect for the truth than you do now. Good luck with your efforts in winning one for your “team” this season, which you have freely admitted is the Democratic party.
    My own hope is that whoever comes out on top this election season, that person cares more about Norwalk than he or she cares about their party. Can you honestly say that you share that wish?

  5. Admo

    Sue Haynie has always had her own agenda. I have never seen her at elementary school . She knows nothing about what Norwalk teachers have had to fight for for years! How fair is it to evaluate a teacher by test scores? So a teacher at Naramake Cranbury or Rowayton is a better teacher than Tracey Jefferson and Kendall with their high minority non English speaking population that also is the most economically challenged. And parents evaluating teachers? Really How would you like a disgruntled customer or client have a say about your job because they DIDNT like the way you looked at them! There has to be a better way!!

  6. Bryan

    @Admo, why would an evaluation be a bad thing if it helps you do your job better? Why not let them play out and see where it goes? Most of us realize the problems in the school system have to do more with home economics than classroom economics. Your union leaders are doing you a disservice fostering this hostile attitude. Believe it or not, most of us want to see you succeed.

  7. Lisa Thomson

    Sue Haynie does not have her own agenda. It is Obama’s national agenda to states for funding or NCLB waivers. Malloy’s education bill is directed at Connectcut cleaning up and closing the achievement gap. Bottom line for all of us moving forward – whether one likes it or not is – no reform- no money. part of the reform is better evaluations for both principals and teachers. The Norwalk business as usual method of attacking individuals who are simply bringing to light what is a national agenda is shortsighted and the more Norwalk drags its feet, the more it hurts us.

    For years the Board has been a rubber stamp to the school district. The entire city needs more transparency and accountability and the BOE is no exception. Both city leaders and the union are responsible for the last superintendent’s departure. The unions attacked her and city officials watched from the sidelines, making one wonder if they really care about education or reform.

    I personally think that Mr. Mellion’s 1970s brand of union politics and bullying does a disservice to teachers and will be on the wrong side of history. Ms. Haynie is simply a mother and taxpayer who is standing up for what is right and inevitable. Why Mr. Mellion chooses not to embrace it is more reflective of his generation than anything else.

    I continue to be extremely active fundraising for our schools, as I have been for the past 9 years. When I read Mr. Mellion’s Vanguard, I am saddened and disappointed by his rhetoric and influence over our great teachers.

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