Posted By Bremer & Trollop | B&T in the News
Sunday, March 27th, 2011 9:21 am
Name: Lance Trollop
Family: wife, Heather; daughter, Ayla, son, Tye
Education: Graduated with honors from University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, double major in political science/pre-law and psychology; graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin Law School
Career: Attorney at Bremer & Trollop Law Offices
Question 1: If budget cuts are necessary, how would you go about determining what they should be?
During the last several months, administrative teams developed dozens of possible budget reductions and those ideas were discussed with all administrators and the board in a public forum (although without input from the public at that meeting). The costs/savings associated with each idea were made available, and the board will soon vote on the proposals.
This process should be used again, but it should be improved by including more input from employees other than just administration (including teachers, who are often in the best position to advise the board on the impact proposed changes will have on education) and the public (which the board is meant to represent). This improved process should begin now to address more significant changes that will result in long-term budget savings.
Question 2: What is the best way to evaluate a teacher?
There is no single way to adequately evaluate a teacher. Standardized tests that do not consider the student’s prior performance, for example, are essentially useless as teacher evaluators. Value-added testing, meant to measure the improvement of students, is more useful for teacher evaluation, but should only be used as one tool of many. Additionally, standardized testing should not be directly tied to teacher compensation.
Teacher evaluation should utilize multiple tools, with probably the most important tool being classroom observation. The evaluation system should use yearly classroom observations with post-observation conferences to discuss the results. Other tools should also be used, such as feedback from parents (and students, especially older students) and other teachers. Value-added standardized testing, as noted above, can also be included as one of the many evaluation tools.
Question 3: Will budget cuts affect education quality? How can the district minimize this effect?
Yes. Educational materials, course offerings, building budgets, etc. all impact education quality in some way. Class sizes (especially for younger students), teacher quality and the availability of support staff are examples of things that likely have the greatest impact.
We must develop a strategy to reduce the budget long term in a way that has the smallest amount of negative impact on student learning. This is a question that the board must answer after receiving input from the teachers, the administration and the public.
A related question that should also be addressed any time budget cuts are considered is: How can revenue be increased without raising taxes? For example, enrollment equals funding and the reality is that attracting students is now competitive, with other public and private schools and even with virtual schools. What can we do to attract more students? What other things can be done to increase revenue?
Read More at Wausau Daily Herald.