IEA President, Penny Cyr, Responds to Tiered Licensure: Administrators will Have the Power to Revoke Certification

cyrLast week I sent my concern about the impact the proposed tiered teacher certification and Value Added Model (VAM) model to all members of the Career Ladder / Tiered Licensure Committee.

It was my hope to make sure special education students are a priority as this new possible model is being discussed, obtain some answers regarding the draft language, along with getting some input from committee members and lawmakers on their personal feelings regarding the proposed model.

I have had several responses from different committee members which I will be sharing in the coming days.  I wanted to start by publishing Idaho Education Association President Penni Cyr’s response first as it brings up an issue I had not considered when I wrote my original OpEd published around the state.

Penni reminded me that the draft language has the potential to not only impact teacher pay, but also has the potential to impact the certification of a teacher; not only in terms of what “tier” the teacher is placed on (along with the compensation difference for the different tiers), but in terms of if that teacher is allowed to keep his or her certification at all.

In other words, the Professional Standards Committee will no longer be the only official governing body regarding teacher certification revocation; the new draft language would also place this enormous responsibility in the hands of administrators across the state.

In Idaho, administrators use the Danielson Framework model to evaluate teachers.  This model has four ratings for 22 different categories; ratings are unsatisfactory, basic, proficient, and distinguished.  According to the draft language, an educator could potentially have his or her licensure revoked if a teacher did not get a proficient or higher rating in each category.  Mind you, basic is not unsatisfactory, yet an administrator would have the ability to treat the rating as a rationale for not renewing a teaching license.

As President Cyr States:

I can tell you that it is my belief that if these licensure steps are made rule or law, we will lose a whole lot more than SPED teachers that you refer to in your article.  I think this will have a devastating effect on our ability to retain (and attract) all teachers in Idaho…I mean, as you put it,  Why would anyone want to put up to $20,000 of compensation up to chance if they don’t have to? Or put the LOSS OF THEIR CAREER (revocation of licensure) up to a local evaluation that is about job performance.  

The Idaho Professional Standards Commission (sometimes known as the ethics committee) has been the gate-keepers in Idaho determining if a teacher has performed an act so egregious that they feel the teacher’s certification should be revoked.

This committee is made up of a variety of stakeholders: teachers, administration, counselors, school board members, etc.  This makeup assures that a teacher referred to the commission will receive a fair an unbiased approach in determining if a teacher truly violated ethical guidelines, and if so if that action deserves revocation or suspension of his or her teaching certification.

The diverse makeup is a good thing and seems to have been effective in providing a fair hearing in cases where the claims against the teacher were clearly unsubstantiated.  Remember the Dietrich high school teacher referred to the commission for, ahem, teaching biology by, ahem, actually teaching biology?  The commission stood by the teacher and dismissed the claims.

That’s the way it should be.  It is one thing for an administrator to make the determination of continued employment for a teacher in the building; it is an entirely different thing for an administrator to independently make a determination to revoke a teacher’s certification entirely.

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