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Op-Ed: Justin Simmons Says Teacher Accountability is a Common Sense, Bipartisan Idea

State Rep. Justin Simmons, R-131, says his opponent Kevin Deely opposes bipartisan teacher accountability measures.

Throughout this year's presidential campaign, it's become clear that there is very little Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama agree upon. However, the Wednesday, October 3rd debate did find one area of common ground: Race to the Top, the President's program to help improve public schools by improving accountability among teachers, is a good program.

I, too, believe that accountability in our schools is a good thing. That is why, in June of this year, I supported HB 1980, a bipartisan reform bill that provides greater accountability of teacher performance in Pennsylvania's schools. This legislation was supported by Republicans and Democrats, as well as the Pennsylvania Education Association.

It was supported by these varied groups because it is a common sense idea to help reach a common goal: providing a quality education to our children. 

Unfortunately, not everyone agrees – including Kevin Deely, the fiscally liberal union boss who opposed Race to the Top in his own school district, costing his local school district millions of dollars in important funding.  

Deely opposed Race to the Top for a simple reason: money. Deely said that accepting Race to the Top would require "making changes to our contract." 

That's the same contract Deely led the fight for that contained massive raises which caused a 16% property tax increase and a $12.9 million budget deficit in his school district.  

Deely also opposed Race to the Top's accountability measures saying "To base a teacher's evaluation and their worth as an educator on how – how much their students grow, it – it just doesn't work that way." 

I disagree with Mr. Deely. I think we should be doing everything we can to help ensure our children are learning. For Mr. Deely to say whether a child does or does not grow in the skills they are supposed to learn in the classroom is unimportant is, well, just patently ridiculous.

At a time when we as a country and a community need to come together to solve serious challenges, I am proud to have worked in a bipartisan manner for common sense initiatives like increasing accountability in our schools. It's clear from last night's debate that the President and Governor Romney feel the same. Sadly, Mr. Deely wants to continue down a radical path that will only perpetuate what's wrong with politics today.

Phillyboy October 08, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Dear Mr. Deely...the State Rep position requires many skill sets well beyond lobbying for school funding,& teachers salaries/pensions.That makes YOU a distant second to Rep Justin Simmons. The constituents of this district overwhelmingly dont support your brand of poliitics except far left dems.Your perception that the voters support your teachers union is false.In Fact , the teachers unions are loathed by taxpayers.and YES in district 131 as well. You screwed the taxpayers of Easton and then were ousted by your own . Then want to bring your brand of politics here ??? Unfortunatley for you the district is not all teachers . Rep Simmons wins this district big time. I would bet the house on that !
careless fills October 10, 2012 at 09:01 AM
That would best be a question for Mr. Duncan and Mr. Obama, the sponsors of RTTP.
Mark Spengler October 10, 2012 at 10:15 AM
Careless noting in RTTP preventing the new teacher evaluations in PA applying to charter teachers. That was a choice made by PA legislators like Justin Simmons even though he claims that he wants to have accountability and a level playing field for public charter schools.
careless fills October 10, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Mark, so Duncan-Obama gave them this option. the RTTP applications were very detailed and evaluated line-by-line on a 500 point rubric, and only about a dozen states were granted awards based on those submissions. Iin any case, I believe PA's submission was made by the Rendell administration and the legislature had little to do with it.
Carl W October 11, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Sorry, Simmons, however I can't support any Republican, you included. Why? From PQA. to Florida, Republicans cost states LIKE PA & Fla. MILLIONS of dollars, at a time when we're so rich (???), for voter I.D, which is unnecessary, and making it illegal for seniors to come to polls in busses, all in an attempt to destroy any votes for Democrats. And this is not the first year such has been done-- it happenes a lot, AT OUR EXPENSE. Relative to you, also, "Sorry, Charlie." - Dent's a key player.

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