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Taking issue

Dennis Carlson

I was asked by several teachers in Eagle County to respond to an opinion that appeared in a recent edition of the Vail Daily concerning the TAP program. I work as a field consultant for the Colorado Education Association. Although my office is in Frisco, I work throughout Eagle County.

I would like to respond to an editorial by Don Rogers that appeared recently in the Vail Daily, entitled “Teachers union embraces TAP.”

Rogers asserts in his column that The American Federation of Teachers endorses the TAP, Teacher Advancement Program. The information he refers

to was taken from the March issue of The American Teacher, a publication of the AFT.

Rogers bases his conclusion that the AFT endorses the TAP program because of an opinion by Sandra Feldman, national president of the AFT. What she actually concludes in her opinion is that “TAP is well worth a look, it offers everyone who is concerned with teacher quality and teacher retention plenty of food for thought.”

She also says the TAP program “Is not the only game in town, and it is not for everybody.”

Feldman’s comments are not an endorsement on any particular pay for performance plan. There are several plans out there, including the plan that the Denver schools just approved, which is quite different than the TAP program. The Denver plan, referred to as “ProComp,” was carefully designed by, and negotiated between, the Denver Public Schools and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association. The city of Denver must pass a $25 million bond issue before the plan can be implemented.

I also take offense to the comment in Rogers’ column “Some reluctant teachers and parents they’ve managed to scare have lately kicked up a fresh fuss.” I hope he is not suggesting that education professionals and concerned parents shouldn’t have the right or be allowed the opportunity to question certain aspects of the program as the district moves through implementation. After only two years into the program, and with still not all schools participating, it is far too early to make judgment on how successful the program will be.

Nobody in the education community is suggesting that teachers shouldn’t be accountable for their work, and that better, more objective ways of measuring accountability and rewarding teachers aren’t welcome. If successful reform is to take place in education, teachers need to have a voice in that reform. They need buy-in. After all, they are the ones who must deliver the product.


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