Measure 60

Jeff Alworth

Title:  Teacher "classroom performance," not seniority, determines pay raises; "most qualified" teachers retained, regardless of seniority
Sponsor: Bill Sizemore, Russ Walker
Type: Statutory
What it Does: Requires merit pay for teachers, eliminates seniority as a reason for retention during layoffs
What it Costs: One-time cost of $12 million, and $60 million a year thereafter to administer tests

Of all Sizemore's measures, this is the only one that arguably touches on an actual debate: how do you reward good teaching while also protecting long-serving teachers?  But as with all things Sizemorian, this is a ham-fisted fix for a subtle problem, and one packing more than just a little personal vendetta (see below).  On one side of the gulf are teachers unions, which protect the seniority of their membership--for a number of very good reasons.  On the other side are both good-education advocates, who would like to create a structure for rewarding talent, not just seniority, but also union-hating right-wingers. The former are committed to good education, while the latter seem more interested in punishing unions (their political foes) and driving down the cost of education.  This measure was drafted by a charter member of the latter group.

Sizemore never really seems interested in passing decent laws.  Instead, he crafts policy that none but the fringey or uninformed could support.  The way M60 would work is in linking teacher pay directly to student performance.  It's an individualized scheme, and would require further testing of students.  Although Sizemore failed to spell out the specifics, this would be a costly, onerous, and bureaucratic process.   Next, in one of those bizarre, poison-pill moves, Sizemore also eliminates all other cost-of-living increases.  This puts less-experienced teachers at a disadvantage, because they would have a harder time getting raises as they learn their craft.   Finally, it absolutely removes seniority as a factor in determining who gets laid off.

As with Sizemore's other eduction-related measure, 58, Measure 60 is supported by almost no one (FreedomWorks again, along with the sponsors), and is opposed by everyone else--everyone involved in education, elected officials, church groups, the Rural Organizing Project, other unions, etc.  Editorial boards have likewise lined up against it.

It's worth noting that there's a huge backstory to this initiative.  It was the teachers union who in 2002 won a court battle against Sizemore, and they've been locked in legal battle over the money he refuses to pay them ever since.  It's no wonder there are a few punitive measures in M60 that directly target teachers--the very people who have kept him over a barrel for eight years.

  • Nathan Brooks (unverified)

    " how do you reward good teaching while also protecting long-serving teachers?"

    Jeff, are you saying long-serving teachers are not good teachers, or that teachers that are not good (at their profession) should somehow be 'protected'?

    I am a mechanic by trade. I imagine that if I couldn't get the job done, I wouldn't be working on cars! i don't think my boss would keep me around.

  • Admiral Naismith (unverified)

    I reccomend a NO vote on this measure. It would disproportionally impact low-income Oregonians and discriminate against gun owners!

  • (Show?)

    Thanks for the clear exposition, Jeff.

    Maybe after the election we could have a different kind of discussion between good education advocates who are pro-union teachers (like the vast majority of teachers I've known in my life) and other good education advocates about how to make all schools work better for kids and the place of teaching improvement (and the needs of continual renewal as due to turnover) in the mix of what's needed.

    It really sucks to keep having these discussions in phony tendentious frames that are defined mainly by non-educational ideological agendas, whether anti-union a la Sizemore, or market/privatization/business model/competition shibboleths that really don't fit universal education well.

    We need debate and deliberation in which the terms are set among people of educational goodwill who may disagree on various things, but who share goals of student success, teacher success, and school community success, and understand that those things are linked.

    Has BlueOregon ever recruited a sort of forum project on a policy issue like that? You know, multiple columns from in-house and knowledgeable guests, published close in time, may with two iterations in time to allow reflection and responses? Just a thought for the editors.

    (I write this as a once and maybe future educator at a different level, a public school parent, a grateful to teachers former public school student, and a friend, literally and figuratively, of many teachers, other parents, and school-kids.)

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)

    Sizemore never really seems interested in passing decent laws.

    This is the crux of it all, n'est-ce pas? Initiatives are Sizemore's method of hurting his enemies. I think this should be the organizing principle of opposition to what he gets on the ballot. Sometimes ad hominem attacks are the most effective as well as the most on point.

  • (Show?)

    Nathan, it was an awkward sentence. The issue is the classic union paradox: unions are designed to protect members and one of the key ways they do this is through seniority. I didn't want the post to spin out into a debate about unions, so I tried to use some shorthand there. It's a complex issue and one that doesn't actually bear closely to this issue. Purely as public policy, it stinks.

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    Chris, I have had the forum idea myself, but we haven't gotten it off the ground. After the election, we'll have a year or 18 months of breathing room before the next election, and I hope we can create some stuctures for delving into policy. Don't forget it, and let's talk in a month.

  • Hank (unverified)

    Larger, broader discussions on this are great and all, but it's vital to remember that a ballot measure isn't a discussion--it's a yes or no vote on a specific policy.

    This isn't an ideological discussion about how teachers should be paid. This is about Measure 60, which will be on ballots being mailed out today.

    As a piece of legislation, it's among the most vague, ill-conceived notions Sizemore has ever had. The language is so undefined that it's impossible to know what the measure would mean, other than that it would eliminate classroom experience from any consideration of teacher pay. That also means that cost-of-living raises are prohibited. Those two pieces are so extreme that any broader discussion of the issue is dead.

    We're not voting on a concept here. We're voting on a specific, horribly written measure. Please vote No on Measure 60.

  • Nathan Brooks (unverified)

    "The issue is the classic union paradox: unions are designed to protect members and one of the key ways they do this is through seniority."

    Thanks for the answer Jeff.

    So, if I vote NO, then unions are free to continue to protect bad teachers? Hmmm... to be Honest I am leaning towards voting YES on this measure, as I am not sure that protecting bad teachers is such a good idea.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)

    This isn't about bad teachers, it is about wheather or not we want to keep encouraging Bill Sizemore to continue to abuse the initiative system. He really hates someone in the teachers union to the point he is using this measure as 'payback' on that person (or persons)and gets signatures for the measure by not going into the depths of his hatred that create such ubiquitous garbage he tends to spill out of his head. When is Bill going to realize that those voices in his head are not a valid voting bloc to listen to for any idea for a measure. One one last item - I have not seen or read anything that touts the values of the Sizemore Garbage Measures if you vote yes escept in the voters pamphlet. What does THAT tell us?

  • Urban Planning Overlord (unverified)

    This is 2008's version of the measure that I might actually vote for if it weren't Bill Sizemore proposing it, because the idea has merit.

    2006's version was the measure that didn't allow insurance companies to use credit scores in making rate adjustments.

    Both good ideas, doomed by their association with a racketeer.

  • dddave (unverified)

    This is a measure before the Oregon voters. Quit trying to make it a referendum on Sizemore. Sizemore has never passed a single measure, he has only allowed Oregon voters to attempt to get control over their whacked out state. So Eric, comment on the measure. You are in favor of union controlled education where once you have length of service, you are golden forever regardless of performance? And along with this, as a union member, your dues go 100% to one party and one line of thought in all elections? And add to this a PERS systems that still pays retirement benefits far in excess of the private sector? It is not a good system. Perhaps 60 is not the answer, but there is a real problem. The suit against Sizemore was the largest SLAPP suit in history. The unions actually argued that they were forced to spend the money to fight against the ballot measures. So we are to assume the unions were the only reason the measure failed and that the unions can actually control an election?? Please. And best of all, your solution is to actually continue to restrict the initiative process? Yeah, screw the Constitution. Sorry Eric, and I not up on crap teachers retiring at 108% of base pay in their early 50's, and me having to work until I am 75 to pay for it.

  • (Show?)

    Nathan, this measure will not differentiate between bad and good teachers. It is not based on quality of teaching, but on student test scores. The two are not the same thing because student test scores are affected by more than quality of teaching.

    I think of a teacher of my acquaintance, who was a student in a Master's degree program where I taught once. She was a passionately committed teacher who taught at one of the more difficult high schools in the Portland Public Schools, one in which a great many students came from low-income backgrounds, dysfunctional families, or whose parents weren't able to offer much by the way of support. Moreover the school itself was in fairly continuous turmoil due to internal and external politics.

    I am firmly convinced that this teacher had the qualities honest school reformers of all stripes stress in good teachers -- commitment to the students as individuals, belief that they all could succeed in the sense of making progress from where they were when they came to her, and an understanding that students respond to expectations that are set for them. She also had the guts to stick it out in this tough school because she was committed to those students, though she also had the smarts and credentials to have been able to get a job at a less difficult school or in a richer school system.

    But she did not have control over where the students began when they came in her door, nor over the factors beyond her teaching that interfered with many students' learning.

    This measure would unfairly say that a teacher teaching in an easier situation whose students got better test scores was a "better" teacher, who deserved more pay, when really the difference would simply be better-prepared students, and punish my former student for her commitment to working with the kids in the hardest circumstances.

    It is hard to think of a better recipe for demoralization or a better incentive structure to encourage talented teachers to abandon schools whose students come from hard backgrounds.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)

    dddave - by voting yes on 60 you are contributing to the encouragement of Sizemore's enthusiastic abuse of the initiative system as an enabler. His "attempts to get control" are nothing more that personal and spiteful vendettas and the reason they are on the ballot is because he knows how to manipulate the lesser informed and lesser intelligent to do his bidding as well as having the money to go forward with such inane garbage. He could care less about the mesaure's outcome as long as he gets his personal shots in. He is technically a felon and should be treated as such.

  • mp97303 (unverified)

    I think one of the major problems we have with issues like this is how do we define "bad" teachers. My experience in high school in Keizer was typical.

    My physics teacher was in his first year of teaching. It was a brutal experience. The most difficult learning experience I have ever had in my life. It was not due to the teacher being a "bad" teacher, but due to a lack of experience.

    Another teacher I had for a social studies class was a "bad" teacher who should have been gone. He gave weekly quizzes that he spent the week giving us the answers to. We learned next to nothing and I spent the hour staring out the window. He was a bad teacher, every student knew it, every teacher knew it. Yet, he remained until he retired. One wonders how many students were "failed" by this "bad" teacher.

    As for my physics teacher. With 20 years of experience he has become a proficient educator. Congratulations Mr. Michael Lampert. 2008 Oregon Teacher of the Year. :)

  • Lou (unverified)

    The idea of a forum on education reform is a good one. It can serve to expose one of the little hidden civil wars within the Democratic Party. Do we do whatever it takes to change the system---up to and including eliminating our base beliefs in worker rights and pensions in favor of a competetive and seemingly cutthroat business model in the name of student civil rights or do we work towards a broader social agenda which provides students with adequate access to health care and safety coupled with adequate teacher training and the reliabilty of a salary and benefits system that will attract and retain good teachers into the future?

    This is a good and timely debate, but Measure 60, obviously, addresses none of this. For those of you with a chip on your shoulder towards teachers and unions, you need to look no further than the fact that the Chalkboard Project is not supporting Measure 60. The Chalkboard Project will jump on anything that viably smells of pay for performance but at least has the possibility of staying afloat for a while. They're not even willing to jump on Sizemore's ship. Bad news from Sizemore once again. Vote No.

  • LT (unverified)

    Nathan, as a mechanic, are you required to work with substandard parts or equipment? Are you able to fix everything you work on? Would you be penalized if you weren't, for instance, be able to restore a totaled car into "like new" condition?

    There are wonderful kids who frustrate those who work with them because they may be very bright but are easily distracted, or emotional, or smart-alecks. There are disrespectful kids whose parents and teachers know each other very well because of almost daily problems. But "quality" teachers can work magic with those kids or they deserve to be laid off because Sizemore says they don't deserve to be teaching? Would he survive a whole day in a classroom of such kids? Or doesn't he have to find real work in the real world like the rest of us because he's the ballot measure King and we are just supposed to accept that because he has rich benefactors whose orders we should follow?

    According to law and court decision, public schools must accept every child. Those who cannot walk, those who cannot talk, special ed kids who may have autism or developmental disabilities, kids who may not get enough to eat at home, live in a home where English is not spoken, kids from broken families, in some cases homeless kids are all accepted in public schools.

    Ask anyone who has ever been a school employee, a coach, worked in before/afterschool child care, or many other occupations which involve dealing with kids. They will tell you kids are not widgets, but individual human beings. The best teacher in the world cannot always reach every student.

    How will teachers be measured? Test scores like those used in NCLB? Subjective measurements from administrators? Are you aware that there is one simmering issue (which some legislators don't want to touch with the proverbial 10 foot pole) about specific criteria used to evaluate teachers while some school board members say things like "we evaluate administrators by results" as if no more detailed criteria are necessary?

    Try finding the salaries of central office administrators in your district. The School Supt. salary is usually pretty easy to find. But what about the Curriculum Supervisor, the HR Director, the Asst. Superintendents and their lower level management assistants? Do they deserve salaries often around $100,000 of taxpayer money? Why? That is not mentioned in this ballot measure.

    For all the times I disagreed with Mike Huckabee, I liked what he said about education---a believer in holding management accountable for the conditions in schools, and the importance of supporting the best teachers when they reach the 4th or 5th year of teaching which he said was the time when they lose a lot of teachers to burnout.

    And then, of course, there is the question of certified personnel who are not "classroom teachers" in the strictest sense: counselors, librarians, art, music, PE teachers. How are they to be evaluated? Should special ed teachers (saints in my book) be evaluated the same way as the 3rd grade teacher, the middle school math teacher, the small town high school teacher who teaches 3 different subjects?

    As I understand it, this is a statutory measure, not constitutional amendment. The history of Sizemore measures is that I don't think there were ever any which were intact in the original wording 5 years later. Some were overturned by courts, some were found to be impossible to implement as written and thus rewritten by the legislature.

    What WOULD be good would be to admit that there are certified public school employees who are frontline workers, and others who are management. And to set statewide evaluation standards of both which are based on more than just standardized test scores. I was telling a friend a story about our Senior English teacher in high school, and the final he gave at the end of the first semester. It was an essay question involving everything we had read that semester. My friend said "Gee! That's college work! You had a better English teacher than I had!".

    OK, can essay exams be used to evaluate teachers, or must they be standardized multiple choice? Can the way a teacher inspires students (one boy in our class decided to be an English teacher because of Mr. Rainer, and I am still praising him more than 40 years after graduating from high school)be measured under the terms of this measure? How does the public school system keep inspiring, excellent teachers who change student lives from getting fed up with bureaucracy and transferring to a private school or leaving education for another line of work?

    THAT would be a worthwhile discussion, and more than a decade and a half ago, there were Education Comm. legislative hearings which discussed such things.

    But no unusual out of state millionaire is going to pay Sizemore to gather signatures for an initiative based on such serious discussion. And that is the point here. It is heartening how many times I say I'm just voting against all Sizemore measures on principle because of his legal troubles, and someone I'm talking with agrees with me.

  • (Show?)

    Actually along the lines of what Jeff and Chris were talking about, it would be nice to see some kind of place where an agenda could be put together and forwarded to legislators before the new session. There are several issues where Dems have been playing defense on for several years (Jeff posted about one issue, but there are many more I'm sure we can think of that would be good ones to talk up). Even if it was just informally it would be nice. I'm almost sure that kind of a forum would have to be something you'd register for (given the number of trolls we encounter).

    Just something to mull over in the next month before the election is over.

  • (Show?)

    Sorry I took it off topic.

    By the way, a big no vote from overseas here on Measure 60.

  • devious (unverified)

    Bill Sizemore does not live up to the same standard he is demanding of teachers. Does he get paid based upon the performance of his ballot initialives? It seems like all of his fail--except for one or two which passed years ago.

    He is just out to destroy the public school system. He has no real interest (or solutions) to improve it

  • Jon_of_Arc (unverified)

    Consider the following: Measure 60 would require teachers to be paid according to "classroom performance." (undefined) An indicator of such performance is typically based on student performance on tests. How fair is that? Consider the families you know. How many of them have experienced a death in the family recently, or a divorce, separation or problem that may potentially upset the children within the family? The percentage is likely high. Such things outside a teacher's control will none the less affect a student's performance. A poor night's sleep: the teacher gets punished. A death of a beloved grandparent: the teacher gets punished. A parent that comes home drunk the night before upsetting the child: the teacher gets punished. A student moves to Oregon from another state that doesn't have our standards, and the student is required to take the test: the teacher gets punished.

    One can go on and on. Bill Sizemore is not interested in Kids First. He's only interested in Teachers all costs.

    Vote NO on Measure 60.

  • Living Overseas (unverified)
    <h2>Let's think about the flipside for a moment (i.e., the current situation) - teachers who continue to receive pay increases and job security even when their performance is sub-standard or worse. I'm not saying that this measure is the outright answer, but I believe we need to move in the direction of rewarding teachers the way the rest of us deal with - based on performance. How we measure that performance is a point that needs to be scrutinized, and perhaps this measure is not specific enough. But for those of you who continue to pull the wool over your own eyes, stick your fingers in your ears, and sing la la la whenever a discussion about the "sacred" teachers unions comes up, I think you have a bit of enlightening to go through. Based on some of the comments I read above, you see the name "Sizemore" attached to this measure and automatically toss it aside solely because of who the ballot is associated with. Where's the supposed progress in all you progressives?</h2>

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