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Statewide teacher evaluations won’t be delayed after all

Every teacher in Minnesota will be evaluated starting in the 2014-2015 school year as planned.

Wednesday morning, the state Senate E-12 Division, the committee that deals with education finance issues, voted to amend a controversial bill that would have delayed statewide implementation of teacher evaluations.

By unanimous voice vote, the committee removed the delay and inserted a provision that would direct up to $10 million to pay for evaluations in districts that do not participate in the state’s chief teacher-development program, Q-Comp.

Education advocates who tracked the brief, intense dust-up over the bill hailed the vote as a great compromise: Every teacher in Minnesota will be evaluated starting in the 2014-2015 school year as planned, and there is a precedent recognizing that, done well, performance reviews and the professional development that should accompany them, need a dedicated source of categorical aid.

This one was hard won. On Thursday, the Senate’s Education Committee, which handles policy matters, voted to delay the evaluations’ rollout by a year, over the vociferous objections of the minority.

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Because the hearing wasn’t announced, testifiers opposed to it were limited to a couple of education advocates who have been at the Capitol nearly around the clock during this turbo-charged session.

Committee Chair Patricia Torres Ray, a Minneapolis DFLer, conceded that the bill had not been on the posted, public agenda the night before. And advocates say there was an 11 a.m. time stamp on the PDF of the measure that was heard at 12.

The bill was heard again 24 hours later in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which had posted notice of its hearing March 25, two days before the Education Committee vote.

A number of education advocacy groups weighed in with a letter [PDF] delivered to senators on Tuesday. And the bill’s author, Apple Valley DFLer Greg Clausen, told colleagues that he was introducing an amendment that would remove the delay.