“I think there are things in the current criteria that can be improved upon,” said southwest Cobb’s David Morgan. “Each and every year, people should have the opportunity to win it.”
The board talked briefly about Teacher of the Year criteria during board meetings in the last two months, but nothing came of it.
Morgan said that by bringing up the conversation again during the board’s work session Wednesday, he hopes that Cobb schools can make the recognition bigger and focus more on student performance and not just on the number of years someone taught or how many years they have won the recognition.
The guidelines follow those of the Georgia Department of Education, which honors the state Teacher of the Year.
“I don’t think a teacher should be disqualified if it’s just their first or second year of teaching,” he said. “If a teacher comes in and blows the hinges off the door, they should be just as eligible as someone who has been there for 10 or 15 years.”
In order to be eligible for the Cobb honor, teachers must teach in Cobb and be returning the next year, have a minimum of three years teaching at the nominating school, not have any disciplinary issues in the last two years and not have been Teacher of the Year for the current school year.
“I’m hoping that in the end, teachers who are doing a great job, that we’re recognizing them in a great way and making the criteria better than what it currently is,” Morgan said.
Connie Jackson, who serves as president of the Cobb County Association of Educators and works with many local teachers, said she doesn’t think changes are needed.
“It is voted on by the entire faculty, and it is an incredible honor that his or her peers believe them worthy of that,” she said. “I think adding performance criteria or allowing first-year teachers would diminish the honor.”
Jackson said she also believes it could disqualify special education, physical education or art teachers from getting the honor as well.
“What you bring to the table for the school is so much more important than test scores,” she said about the recognition.
Years of experience vs. effectiveness
Morgan will also be asking the board to start the conversation on how important extra teacher certifications, years of experience and degrees are in regards to how they perform in the classroom.
“I’ve read quite a bit of information that says (these things) have very little to do with teacher effectiveness,” he said. “I think it’s incumbent upon us that if research does say that and we’re spending money on it, we should rethink the paradigm.”
Morgan said he won’t make any recommendations to the board regarding a vote, but he would like to see if the administration can bring back more information about whether this research proves true for Cobb Schools.
“You can’t keep doing the same things over and over again … especially if we’re just doing it because it’s the way it’s always been done,” he said.
Jackson said she didn’t agree with Morgan on this concept, either.
“Certifications don’t necessary make you a better teacher or make test scores higher, but they do lead to more knowledge in the classroom,” she said.
She said the district offers some certifications to educators, but she is not sure what portion, if any, is paid by the system.
Jackson also said that extra certifications don’t have an influence on pay like earning more degrees or years of experience do. To earn a higher salary for an additional degree, educators must get one in their subject area.
Furlough days to be discussed
The board will also talk Wednesday about approving the fiscal year 2014 budget and five furlough days recommended to help resolve the $86.4 million shortfall during its May 16 meeting.
The board approved its FY14 tentative budget on April 29 with a 4-3 vote. Board members Scott Sweeney, Tim Stultz and David Morgan opposed its passage.
Since that meeting, Cobb Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said he hasn’t had any requests for changes or adjustments, but he wouldn’t be surprised if they were presented between now and May 16.
“As of right now, I haven’t heard any other suggestions, but that doesn’t mean I won’t,” he said Monday.
Chief Financial Officer Brad Johnson said the board has until the final approval to make any changes.
The board will also talk about when in the 2013-14 school calendar district employees will take the five furlough days. It could save the district an estimated $15.5 million.
Hinojosa said his administration will be giving the board two options to consider. One of those is an option that meets the requests of the calendar committee’s schedule approved last fall.
“We’re trying to honor the feedback we’ve gotten over the last several years,” he said. “A lot of people have weighed in on it.”
The state requires that public school districts have a specific amount of seat time that a child is actually in school, so all five days couldn’t be taken in one semester.
The board meeting is scheduled to begin with public comments at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. A copy of the full agenda can found online at cobbk12.org.