Saturday, May 2, 2009

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

There is an unprecedented opportunity to invest in the quality and the future of St. Paul Public Schools because of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. President Obama, through Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, has insisted that this money be used to meet the needs of students while saving and creating jobs. It is an audacious goal for short-term money, but the provision is substantial enough that wise investment could make a meaningful difference for the students of St. Paul in the long run.

Because we know that teacher quality is the number one indicator of student success, and because the Administration has been clear that teacher effectiveness is one of the four objectives for spending this money in a way that meets the needs of students while saving jobs, we believe this is the perfect time to introduce Peer Assistance and Review (PAR). Establishing Peer Assistance and Review for probationary teachers and tenured teachers identified as struggling, provides more aggressive, honest support and evaluation earlier. This will provide a comprehensive and rigorous measure early in the achievement of tenure process that will facilitate a meticulous and well-observed path to tenure in St. Paul Public Schools. Additionally, tenured teachers who have been identified as struggling will have a thorough assistance program to hone in on the areas in which they may be struggling alongside expert teachers who are dedicated to support them as they improve their teaching and get back on track to doing their best work in meeting the needs of their students.

ARRA will give us time to launch PAR in a way that allows us to reconstruct our existing funding of such current district programs such as the Achievement of Tenure program and job-embedded coaching so that we don’t fall off the funding cliff in two years. The time we have between the first ARRA funding and our responsibility to absorb the cost of what we have adopted will provide us time to measure our influence, especially on behalf of our experienced teachers, in order to be in the running for further funding through the competitive grant process outlined by the Department of Education.