By Rep. Joe Daning
Special to The Gazette
The Ways and Means Committees were able to meet last week during the ice storm and continued to meet this week, finishing their work on Thursday. This gives them time to print and distribute their results to the members for review prior to Budget Week beginning March 10.
This week, I attended the K-12 Subcommittee meeting to learn more about H-3428 First Steps. There was a discussion and debate on funding pre-kindergarten. However, H-3428 passed favorably with amendments out of the Subcommittee and goes to the full Committee on Education and Public Works (E&PW) for further debate.
Also discussed was H-3994 Read to Succeed.
It was debated for accountability and cost to the State, students, and teachers. Some of the questions raised were: Who measures the success of this program? How do we know the students are getting proper and effective instruction? The Subcommittee decided to pass the bill with some amendments and let the full E&PW further debate the issue.
Another bill receiving a great deal of discussion and debate was House Bill 4419 Teacher Evaluation. A well-known, nationally recognized educator Dr. Michelle Rhee spoke on this issue to the K-12 Subcommittee. She supports House Bill 4419 as a step in the right direction but there is no one right answer. Studies show that teacher quality does make a difference. The number one concern regarding teacher quality is that the general public does not respect or value teachers for what they do. Just putting more money in the system does not guarantee success.
Dr. Rhee suggests that the progression for teacher evaluation should have the school district develop the evaluation, the State Department of Education develop general guidelines, and the General Assembly monitor those results on a regular basis.
The K-12 Subcommittee adjourned debate on H-4419 to gather more information.
As always, thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia. If I can ever be of assistance to you, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with the rest of the General Assembly, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 553-9288 or at the State House (803) 734-2951 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.