SCUSD Observer

Sacramento, California

Archive for the ‘California Association of Student Councils’ Category

SB 1422 gives students a much-needed voice

By Jordan Feri

What is SB1422? Is it a way for students to effectively get their teachers fired? A tool for teachers to pick out the students who harbor animosity towards them? Or is it simply a useless and unneeded piece of legislation?

In fact, SB1422 is none of these things. Rather, it is a way for students statewide to provide anonymous feedback to their teachers, without the risk of negative repercussions on the part of the teacher. With this bill in place, teachers would also have the ability to choose whether or not they participate in their school’s program, and then would be allowed to choose if their results are kept private or made public.

To be more specific, “This bill would authorize the student government of a school maintaining any of grades 9 to 12, inclusive, to establish a committee of pupils and teachers to develop a survey by which pupils may provide feedback to teachers…Survey responses would be confidential and made known only to the teacher whose class is surveyed. Administrators and school or district officials would be prohibited from viewing or having access to any completed pupil survey without the express written consent of the teacher to whom the survey relates. The surveys would be prohibited from becoming part of a teacher’s personnel record, from being included in or used to influence the existing teacher evaluation process, and from being used for collective bargaining purposes.” (SB 1422)

As a member of the California Association of Student Councils (the organization which has written and sponsored the bill for the past 47 years) who has worked to get this bill passed, I do have somewhat of a bias when it comes to this particular piece of legislation. However, to be perfectly honest, my views as both a student and a member of CASC are one and the same. In my opinion, this bill has no possible negative repercussions for the students and teachers of California; teachers can choose to participate (so the bad ones can opt out) and students get the much-needed chance to offer input on how they would like to be taught. In our current education system, students often lack the much-needed voice that they deserve, as most communication takes place between the administration and teachers of a school. I know that I have had a teacher that could use this sort of feedback on more than one occasion, and I’m sure that other students have too. With a program for the student evaluation of teachers in place, the primary stakeholders in education, students, are given the chance to open up a direct line of communication between themselves and their teachers. In effect, this bill can only offer the chance for self improvement on the part of those teachers who are brave enough to open themselves to constructive criticism.

The only existing opposition to this bill that I can think of pertains to the fact that it is permissive, not mandatory, and will thus have no real effect on the quality of teachers. However, without a system for the student evaluation of teachers currently in place, in most cases only a small number of teachers opt to create their own evaluations. With the introduction of the system created by this bill, as student governments take the initiative to create their own evaluations, it is more than likely that a greater number of teachers will choose to participate. Therefore, while this bill will not mandate that teachers participate or make changes based on their own feedback, it is inevitable that the number of instructors who use student evaluations to improve their own teaching methods will increase exponentially.

For more information on the subject of student evaluation of teachers, read the following:

What Would Happen If We Treated Students as Those With Opinions That Matter? The Benefits to Principals and Teachers of Supporting Youth Engagement at School by Allison Cook-Sather

Student Evaluation of Teachers by June E. Thompson

Seven Premises for Improving Teacher Evaluation by William R. Norris

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Written by triplejf

August 14, 2010 at 10:47 am