The Senate passed a bill today designed to ensure that all public school educators make the grade. 

The bill, authored by Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, would create a teacher evaluation system based on the effectiveness and quality of public school teachers. More controversial is a provision that would allow school boards to evaluate teachers, and possibly fire them without divulging the reason for letting them go.   

Sen. Mario Gallegos Jr., D-Houston, expressed concern for teachers who attend college and become certified teachers, only to be told that they didn't pass their evaluation. Specifically, Gallegos disagreed with what he called a lack of transparency if school boards could fire without revealing why.  

"These teachers go through four years of college, earn their teaching degree, go teach, and then they're fired. But they're not told why," Gallegos said. "It's not fair to the teachers." 

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Gallegos said teachers should know what they're lacking so they can become better teachers in the future, adding that there should be a provision to allow pink-slipped teachers to get their jobs back. 

Shapiro said specific concerns like Gallegos' would be addressed over the two to three years spent planning the redesign appraisal system. She hopes “those kinds of concerns will come up to these stakeholder groups at the meetings and will be able to be ferreted out.” The stakeholder groups would include teachers and administrators, as well as local school boards. 

Shapiro added that the evaluations would not be based solely on grades and test scores but on the quality of education. Shapiro hopes the reappraisal system will lead the way in local education reform and serve as a model for others states. But before that, it must pass the test in Texas — by heading over to the House for approval.

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