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When it Comes to Teacher Evaluations, Shorewood May Go it Alone

School Board decides not to join 28 other Wisconsin districts studying new system for reviewing teachers.

In September, 14 Shorewood School Board members, citizens and teachers for the district. That document defined teacher work rules, and board members said they wanted a fair policy — one not so stacked in the district's favor. School officials took a .

Now, school officials can add teacher evaluations to a long list of matters to tackle.

Reform of how districts measure their educators is on the horizon in Wisconsin.

Gov. Scott Walker and state Schools Superintendent Tony Evers formed the Educator Effectiveness Design Team last winter to create new framework for teacher and principal evaluations.

Shorewood Superintendent Blane McCann said a portion of the teacher evaluation system will likely be based on student test scores and speculated 50 percent would mirror the current practice — administrators observing teachers in the classroom.

The state Senate has already weighed in on the discussion, passing a piece of legislation last week allowing districts to fire or discipline teachers based on the results of students' performance and test scores.

Not all School Board members agreed at Tuesday night's meeting to the notion of convening a diverse group in Shorewood to discuss the matter, but they were consistent on the fact they wanted to take an active role.

Not ready to team up with others

The board unanimously voted against joining nearly 30 other southeastern Wisconsin school districts in a consortium tasked with creating a new teacher evaluation system and influencing state officials constructing a standardized evaluation system.

Board members said they didn't know enough about the group headed by Pewaukee and Waukesha school officials to confidently vote yes, but may revisit the matter at a future meeting.

"The whole idea of bringing together a diverse body with diverse views is that hopefully there will be an exchange of information that results in the development of a good product," board member Michael Mishlove said. "Doesn't always work that way; it might not work that way."

The Southeastern Wisconsin Teacher Evaluation Consortium hopes to tap teachers and board members from all over the region to create a new method for evaluating teachers after about two to four years of research, McCann said.

Board member Rob Reinhoffer said Shorewood might want to take the same approach to evaluations as the district took to the employee handbook and grievance policy.

"We have a lot of smart people in Shorewood...we can bring them in and work on this together and create a model," Reinhoffer said.

"I don't know how this model is going to reflect the values of our community, if we sign up (for the consortium) and do nothing else."

McCann wants district to participate

It would cost the district $1 or $2 per student to participate, depending how many districts sign up. McCann, who recommended that the board vote to join the group, estimated it would cost Shorewood about $2,000.

"Some people say, 'Why join when the state is going to do it to us?' " McCann said. "But I think we should try to become part of the conversation and try to influence the conversation regarding teacher evaluations.

"It would be nice to link into some of the research that's going to come from some experts."

Shorewood teachers at Tuesday's meeting balked at the notion of an evaluation method based on student achievement or test scores.

"I think most of our teachers here, when they say they teach in Shorewood, are very proud of that,"  "I think it’s the philosophy of being judged on a test...but there is more to it."

"I'm not convinced that this is best practice for teacher evaluation," Lake Bluff Elementary teacher Sachin Pandya said. "There are other models to investigate.

"I'm concerned we are being sucked into the movement toward just examining data."

High school science teacher Cynthia Zauner said there's much more to teaching than just test scores including some intangible aspects you can't measure.

Some board members said with the cost associated with joining the consortium, the nature of state politics right now and the idea that they may not really have a true voice among 28 other districts, participating in the consortium may not be ideal for the district.

"This is in preparation for a (state) mandate, I understand that, but I have to say given the actions of our state government of late, I just have no reason to believe they would ever take any input for anyone on this matter," School Board member Colin Plese said.

Will districts' voices be heard?

High School social studies teacher Debra Schwinn said she shares Plese's concern after thousands of teachers in February and March protested out on the doorsteps of the Capitol and their concerns were still ignored by lawmakers.

"In an era where every dollar needs to be used to the maximum benefit for every student...I need to understand a little better about what our direct benefit is going to be," she said.

Mishlove said he's pessimistic about whether the consortium would be able to influence the state on the structure of a new evaluation system and said it's a matter of capacity rather than structure.

Some local teachers said there is talk of some districts moving to a model where bonuses would be linked to teacher performance evaluations.

"I have real concerns about pay based on student achievement, especially in a district such as ours that doesn't have a lot of room for improvement," Mishlove said.

Debra Schwinn October 29, 2011 at 02:30 PM
Well said Margaret. Thank you.
The Donny Show October 29, 2011 at 03:26 PM
Ms Schmidt. I am so glad that you can lightly blow it off as not-surprising. Drugs are prevalent. I agree. Drug sales in homeroom should not be prevalent. In this case, most of the deals would have had to happen in the ladies room. Gasp-yes girls are probably worse than boys in the Shorewood drug scene.
Margaret Schmidt October 29, 2011 at 04:15 PM
Donny - I'm not blowing it off lightly. Drugs are a problem everywhere. Regular users & dealers become pretty adept at masking their deals. I would LOVE for us to have random locker searches and visits by trained drug dogs. I'm pretty sure that this would cut down and/or eliminate drugs on campus. Why won't the community support that? Are we too afraid of the truth? What would you like me to do when my students enter the room? Pat them down? If the school district/community doesn't take a firm stand on addressing the drug problems, what can I as one teacher do? I've reported kids, sent them to the office, had them removed from my class when I suspected they were under the influence of something. Unless we all agree to address the problem head on, I can only do so much. Bring on the dogs! (Why do you think I'd be surprised that girls are doing/dealing drugs? I just know that things happen in the men's room, given the location of my classroom.)
Margaret Schmidt October 29, 2011 at 04:27 PM
I also think it's pretty cavalier of you to assume I don't take this problem seriously. Look at the patch police reports. At least 80% of what is reported is about drugs & arrests. This is a societal problem. Drugs RUIN lives. We need to address this problem head on as a community & district. Until enough people decide that we should, I'll focus on what I can do as an individual parent, which is to talk to my kids (and their friends) about how serious this problem is.
Debra Schwinn October 29, 2011 at 06:57 PM
I think it's safe to say adamantly and firmly that NO teacher at Shorewood High School takes a cavalier attitude about the use of drugs (or alcohol, I might add) by our students either in or out of school. To imply otherwise is to unfairly slander a very dedicated and hardworking group of educators. But I would ask: What has this to do with changing the methods used to evaluate the effectiveness of educators and their delivery of curriculum in the classroom, which is what I thought the point of this article and conversation following was intended to be?
Margaret Schmidt October 30, 2011 at 02:17 AM
Donny, saying that I "allow drug sales" in my room is frankly libel. There is a big difference between allow something to happen, which implies that one knows what's happening and does nothing to stop it, and being unaware that something is going on, which was certainly the case in my situation. I would certainly never allow any illegal activity to occur in my classroom. Please choose your words wisely.
Debra Schwinn October 30, 2011 at 08:10 PM
I think the term is "defamation per se" Margaret, because it reflects on your professional integrity, and your job performance. I think you get extra damages for that.
CowDung October 31, 2011 at 01:52 PM
Margaret: I guess I don't see the consortium as something that would 'force' Shorewood to do anything or limit our flexibility at all. I see it as an opportunity to share ideas--to gain knowledge, and to share knowledge. It's arrogant to think that Shorewood has all the answers and nothing would be gained through discussions with other districts in the consortium. Yes, a single score might be the result of something beyond the teacher's control--sick student, bad homelife, sleepy student, etc. Do you really think that a teacher is going to get a negative evaluation if one of their students underperforms on a test? I think you are a bit off base if you think that a single student's test score is going to be given more consideration than the scoring average and trends of all the students taught by that teacher.
The Donny Show October 31, 2011 at 02:18 PM
I deleted the comment. I did not mean to imply that you were part of the actual sales. My point, STILL, is tests are not the only way to evaluate a teacher. I moved away from Shorewood as my kids got old enough to attend school. The liberal agenda and the drug culture prevalent in the Shorewood Schools was not for me. My choice, I know. Leaving has furthered cemented my belief that Shorewood is just not as desirable as some want to think. I have twice the house, twice the grass, and half the taxes. Seems like a no-brainer now doesnt it? Carry on.
Debra Schwinn October 31, 2011 at 03:51 PM
To each their own. If half the taxes are more important than award winning schools then that is certainly your choice. Good luck with that.
Debra Schwinn October 31, 2011 at 03:52 PM
And you're here involved in this community conversation because.......? If you've removed yourself from this place how is your input relevant to the conversation?
The Donny Show October 31, 2011 at 04:16 PM
I am a SHS grad. Can I not be concerned about my school? I didn't realize I was eliminated from caring. Sorry Deb. Can I email you in the future to make sure I have permission to post?
CowDung October 31, 2011 at 04:18 PM
Shorewood isn't the only community that has award winning schools. Mequon, Grafton, Cedarburg, and Brookfield all have great school systems with lower taxes...
The Donny Show October 31, 2011 at 04:22 PM
Wow!!!! Did you not read the whole post? You missed so much. Liberal agenda? Nope won't discuss that. Drug culture? Can't talk about that either. Knowing my kids go to a school that is MUCH better and has won many more awards than Lake Bluff? Sorry, I can't discuss that either. Half the taxes? HUGE DEAL. I will focus on that. It is folks like you that make me KNOW that my kids are better off. (Surely your response will focus on this. It is probably libel or defamation per see, right?) Carry on.
The Donny Show October 31, 2011 at 04:53 PM
Right on CowDung. BUT Deb only teaches in Shorewood. In her insulated world, that is all that matters.
Debra Schwinn October 31, 2011 at 07:46 PM
Nope, Donny, as far as I'm concerned you are free to post away. I am going to only wish you well and best of luck. You don't know me, or what my beliefs or political leanings are, what kind of teacher I may or may not be but you're ready to pass judgment nonetheless. Cow Dung will weigh in because that's what he/she/it does, and neither one of you will ever admit that you're talking out of your spleens. That's fine, it's America and we're all entitled to our opinions. It's just that some of us are willing to put our real names on the things we say and others are not. Margaret and I weighed in here to discuss the teacher evaluation issue, and you've both turned it into some sort of character assassination. Liberal agenda? You've never been in my classroom, how would you know "Donny"? My curriculum is in line with the direction of the community elected board and my supervisors. Drug issues? If you think you can move far enough away to find a public/private high school where this isn't an issue you're only fooling yourselves. We fight this battle assiduously every day. I don't need armchair criticism from people who aren't in the fight. Yes there are many award winning schools in Wisconsin, thank god, and hopefully they will all be able to continue to excel in the present environment. And lastly, if you don't like Shorewood, that's fine, but a lot of people do. I hope you find a district that suits you better. That is all -- YOU may carry on.
CowDung October 31, 2011 at 07:51 PM
Wait one minute here. You refer to me as an "it", and then accuse ME of character assassination? Whose character have I even called into question, much less assassinated?
Debra Schwinn October 31, 2011 at 07:52 PM
Oh and BTW not that it's any of your business but Shorewood is hardly the only place I've ever taught -- people who actually know me would find that "insulated" crack to be pretty laughable.
Debra Schwinn October 31, 2011 at 07:53 PM
Ah Cow Dung, no one knows your true identity. Isn't that the way you want it?
CowDung October 31, 2011 at 08:02 PM
I think it is pretty obvious that "it" would not be an appropriate description for a person. I believe that I have been expressing my opinion in a respectful manner to both you and Margaret over the course of this thread. If you are the type of person that gets bent out of shape when someone dares to express an opinion that you disagree with, and you feel the need to put them down for participating in a discussion, then I sincerely hope that you are either retired or teaching in another district before my children get to high school.
Debra Schwinn October 31, 2011 at 08:29 PM
Wow, can't take a little gentle razzing? Sorry, then. Thought you had more of a sense of humor than that. AS for what kind of person I am how could you possibly know? It's just that kind of assumptive leap to judgment that best exhibits your charm. I'd have more respect for what you have to say if you didn't hide behind an assumed screenname. I know I post in some places where I face some pretty scathing opposition but I never use an assumed identity. If I didn't have the courage of my convictions enough to speak with my own identity I would just stay off of comment threads like this one. But that's just me. As for retiring or moving to another district, I would frankly welcome the chance to sit down across a table with you and discuss your child(ren)'s progress. I'm sure they are nice kids who work hard and do well at school, and I'm sure we could do some good work together in the classroom.
CowDung October 31, 2011 at 08:31 PM
Stating that I was engaging in 'character assassination' is 'gentle razzing'?
CowDung October 31, 2011 at 08:48 PM
My children have quite a few years before they will be entering HS. I'll stick with sitting across the table from the various teachers at Atwater for now... If scathing posts on an internet site were all I had to fear, I wouldn't bother with the 'nom de plume'. I am doing my best to avoid any bias against my kids (unintentional or intentional) based on my political leanings and the opinions that I express on this site. As it is, you have labeled me as a 'character assassin', for no apparent reason other than my participation in this discussion and my refusal to use my real name on this site. I would hope that your negative opinion of me wouldn't carry over to the classroom or to my children, but considering how quickly you seemed to have judged me, I am not willing to take that chance.
CowDung October 31, 2011 at 08:54 PM
...and as far as determining what kind of person you are, your accusation against me and your attempt to pass it off as 'gentle razzing' seems to paint a pretty clear picture of the kind of person that you are.
concerned October 31, 2011 at 08:58 PM
The evaluation system should include heavy input from parents and teachers. Everyone knows who the bad teachers are. If you ask 100 people the same names come up over and over again. We take years looking to rehabilitate them when they should be moved out. Our kids should not be asked to wait. They have one high school experience and one chance to learn. Why do we sacrifice the good of the many for the needs of a few? The vast majority of the teachers in Shorewood are amazing however the bad apples need to be moved out.
Debra Schwinn October 31, 2011 at 09:32 PM
You know CD, looking back here I may have confused some of "Donny's" comments for yours. If that's the case I do apologize.
Debra Schwinn October 31, 2011 at 09:35 PM
....and the razzing I was referring to was about the he/she/it crack -- and I WAS only razzing you. You seem to be very sensitive about your secret identity, I was giving you a little poke about it, that's really all that was meant.
The Donny Show October 31, 2011 at 10:02 PM
Debra, I do not know you. You are correct. I know many kids who have taken your Anthro classes in the past and currently. I have read your posts. I know all about your political leanings. Furthermore, you commented you are in line with the direction of the community elected board. That pretty much says you have liberal leanings, right? Or are you not willing to admit that just yet? I am in a great district that is award winning and suits me much better. My children are learning to be great citiizens and learning the truths about life and not the utopian view of the world (which was my ORIGINAL post in this discussion; feel free to review it. Moreover, feel free to insert it into one of your ANTHRO lessons. I think it would be a great topic. Why did some species do better than others? Why did some die off? Was it because of handouts? NOPE. Those who were strong and able to adapt survived and propsered). I, like you I assume/hope, have a secondary education degree. I taught for a few years. I left the profession for many reasons. The liberal, utopian nonesense was one of them. I refused to teach to the agenda that the principal pushed. I did not feel like the kids were benefitting from the "poor me I am so beaten down" bologna that we heard in the staff meetings. The ability to support my family was one of them as well. I am proud to say last year (2010) I made 8x what I made as a first year teacher (choice school in MKE). Carry on.
CowDung November 01, 2011 at 02:28 PM
Thank you Debra. I'm glad to hear that your 'character assassination' comment was a case of mistaken identity rather than the baseless attack that I thought it to be.
The Donny Show November 01, 2011 at 02:34 PM
I am not so happy about it though! LOL

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