Parents for Choice in Education's newly released 2012 Legislative Report Card reflects that little got done to innovate or reform Utah's public school system this year. While multiple states across the nation have recently enacted bold school choice policies and education reform measures, here in Utah we clung to the status quo this session. Perhaps it was the fact that it is an election year. Perhaps it was the influence of a teacher's union fearful of the major union reforms sweeping the nation and still stinging from the monumental, student-centric policy victories last year such as School Grading, Statewide Online Education Program, annual evaluations for all teachers, and the end of taxpayers paying union employee salaries through the reform of District Leave Policies.
Noticeably absent from PCE's report card is Senate Bill 64. A curious omission on the surface, but not once the covers are peeled back unveiling the realities of this so-called "collaborative" legislation. SB64 was built around the steps and lanes system and does not hold teacher's accountable for student outcomes. PCE supported teacher effectiveness legislation that required student learning growth or achievement to be the most significant factor in determining a teacher's performance. The legislative reports of the unions themselves sum up the flaws of this policy best.
The UEA website reports, "The UEA was intimately involved in the crafting of SB64. UEA made the decision to become involved in order to help shape the outcome of the bill. Negotiations on this bill were a give-and-take process. Because of SB64, many harmful bills (such as those that would make all teachers "at-will" employees, eliminate or restrict collective bargaining, or move teachers to a pay-for-test-scores model) failed or were abandoned."
From the Utah IAFF website, "The legislation (SB64) became important to the fire fighters and the rest of labor because it included language that safeguards existing collective bargaining rights. This language could potentially be useful when collective bargaining fights arise in the future."
Some of the most promising education bills fell victim to a "play it safe" legislative session. Our report card includes votes on PCE initiated legislation and additional supported bills reflective of our mission, values and policy principles. It also includes a vote on a hostile bill intended to repeal the Statewide Online Education Program. This report card provides our database of 240,000 supporters statewide and other likeminded groups and individuals with a balanced measurement of how well their elected legislators are representing them on the education issues they value the most.