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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.

Mark Spengler October 06, 2012 at 03:06 AM
Mr. Simmons may I respectfully ask why charter school teachers were exempt from the new law? For as-yet unexplained reasons, the governor and lawmakers excluded from the new standards teachers in charter schools http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20120718/OPINION01/120719438/don-t-exempt-charter-schools-for-state-teacher-evaluations
John Fox October 06, 2012 at 03:16 AM
Wow looks like just when we thought there was something everyone could agree on, that had to be proven wrong. I can't believe that Mr. Deely and almost every other teacher union in the country would put themselves ahead of their students! Mr. Deely I thought you were the one who cared about our schools, and students!?! But when you are given the chance to get millions of dollars for your school (money to the classroom no less) you turn it down because you don't want to take the chance of you and your cronies missing out on raises! If you really think there are so many great teachers, why shouldn't they get to reap the rewards through merit, instead of time in?
srodham69 October 06, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Cleverly written article which in sum total is a bunch of crap. Simmons has increased funding to public schools WHILE ELIMINATING reimbursements leading to a significant loss to local taxpayers. Schools have been forced to cut programs and teachers due to his policies. He is funded in part by a partisan group (followthemoney) who supports vouchers and charters and is headed by a man who has left PA to build a 3 million dollar Florida mansion with our tax money. If Simmons was so concerned about educational quality he would not continue to support charter schools who must only have 75% of their staff as CERTIFIED TEACHERS. He would not take our tax dollars and send them to the cyberschool fatcat owners who charge districts different amounts of money based on the wealth of the area. Simmons is a tea party specialist: one who truly reflects the hypocrisy of pretending to care about our tax burden while handing our money to thugs and taking it away from our community. It's shameful.
truth seeker October 06, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Speaking of accountability, Simmons and his cronies shut down the PA House of Reps. when a bill was introduced to investigate Corbett's handling (or should I sy mishandling) of the Sandusky investigation when he was A.General. http://blogs.philadelphiaweekly.com/phillynow/2012/10/03/chaos-as-rep-calls-for-investigation-into-corbett-for-sandusky-investigation-repubs-turn-off-lights-and-flee/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=chaos-as-rep-calls-for-investigation-into-corbett-for-sandusky-investigation-repubs-turn-off-lights-and-flee Looks like Simmons only likes accountability when it gives him political talking points. A true advocate of accountability would investigate how a guy taking campaign money from the 2nd mile, writing grants for Sandusky and conducting a slow and non-agressive investigation should be held accountable.
Bob Thomas October 07, 2012 at 04:12 AM
Ah truth seeker or should I say Kevin you having a bad day? Do you think more then the local dem party leaders and union hacks will show up at your birthday party? It's amazing all of your events are free. I guess when mandatory union dues are used to fund your campaign you don't need to raise money from people that live in the district or at least in the Lehigh Valley. When the Union bosses in Philly and in Harrisburg give you the big checks are you on your knees to get them?
Stew October 08, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Mr. Simmons, Mark Spengler has asked you a valid question! Will you answer it or avoid it as usual? Those of us in education understand truly what Rep Simmons is about starting with treating teachers with disrespect starting when you walked the hallways of Southern Lehigh School District. You goal has always been to dismantle public education and you continue to do so. Hopefully, you won't get reelected and Mr. Deely will be able to undue the damage to public education by people like you.
Stew October 08, 2012 at 02:01 AM
@ Mark Spengler if memory serves me you taught history at one time. I know that you should throw your hat into the political arena. I know that you have great ideas and you can articulate your ideas effectively. Give it a thought?
Phillyboy October 08, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Hey Stew.....Sitck your education montra up your a--! Im a taxpayer and sick and tired of you teachers lobbying for more money/pensions. Global economy has affected all but you public sector union thugs,Rep Simmons poliicies are all a reflection of the majority of how the constituents feel about the teachers union. Rep Simmons is carrying the Bi-Partisan torch..Simmons will crush Deely....mark my words.This district HATES your union.
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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