Last weekend, in Detroit, Michigan, several CEC members including Ben White, Student Member of CEC’s Board of Directors, Joe DeMarsh, President-Elect of Michigan CEC, and Erin King, Kellie Taylor and Lela Davis, Special Education Teachers in Detroit Public Schools, attended at teacher town hall at the first of three education summits held by NBC’s Education Nation.
Topics on the agenda at the Detroit teacher town hall included Options for Education in Michigan, Common-Core Standards, and Teacher Evaluation. Overall, according to CEC member Erin King the discussion was engaging because “[t]he audience spoke from the heart.”
The town hall explored ways that Michigan is using education reforms to improve student achievement. In the area of school choice, teachers discussed Michigan’s experiment with state-run education as a remedy for chronically failing schools. Specifically, to address issues in failing schools, the state has created the Education Achievement Authority (EAA). The EAA is new to Michigan this year; it is essentially a statewide charter district. The EAA has taken over the lowest performing schools in Michigan in hopes to improve student achievement. Teachers on the panel and in the audience said they have seen student growth in their non-traditional environments – and attributed success to small class sizes and community involvement.
Teacher evaluation sparked the most intense discussion however. Teachers expressed concern with the emphasis on testing that evaluations including student achievement measures could bring. And teachers were even more concerned with methods for receiving meaningful and effective feedback from other educators. Educators in the audience agreed that teachers needed better ways to get constructive feedback and actually have opportunities to improve their craft with colleagues. Read CEC’s Position on Special Education Teacher Evaluation or want to join our CEC discussion about it? Then sign up for our Special Education Teacher Evaluation Community today!
Not much of the teacher town hall discussion, if any, however, focused directly on special education. According to Ben White, “I think the event went well for the most part. (But) There was no mention of special or gifted/education education with the exception of a brief mention of music programs, which was disappointing.”
The next two events are going to be held in New Orleans (April 12-19) and Phoenix May (3-10). It would be great to have more CEC members attend these events and speak out! We need to be sure that special education is front and center as an important component of any discussion. Check here for more information about how you can attend!