Rep. Horn has role in teacher effectiveness panel

Mar. 20, 2014 @ 04:21 PM

The newly formed North Carolina Teacher Effectiveness and Compensation Task Force is underway with meetings in Raleigh. 

The group had their second meeting earlier this week. 

The task force consists of 18 members, including a representative from the Department of Public Instruction, a teacher, a principal, four state senators, four state representatives and others. Craig Horn, R-68, is one of the representative members. 

Horn said they are still pretty early in the process and have not had a whole lot of committee discussions, but have listened to presentations. 

"I'm really happy that it's a joint task force, not just an ad hoc committee of one house or the other," Horn said. 

According to state documents, the group will make recommendations on whether to create a statewide incentive model to encourage the recruitment and retention of "highly effective educators" and whether to transition to an alternative compensation system for educators. 

The group will also examine including school performance in an alternative compensation plan, whether or not to give local school districts the ability to create their own compensation systems, the use of incentive pay to recruit teachers in hard-to-recruit areas, methods for recognizing effective teaching and how that will relate to an alternative pay system, effective retention strategies and other issues in education. 

"Our challenge has been in North Carolina to first retain high-quality teachers and second to attract high-quality teachers," Horn said. "In fixing anything, you have to first and foremost stop getting worse." 

He said their first job will be to stabilize the profession and stop losing great teachers, then they will need to focus on attracting great teachers and then look at how to help the teachers currently employed to all be great. 

"That's my focus and that's what's on my mind," he said. "As far as the committee's concerned...there's a huge issue, a dichotomy between the members of the house and the members of the senate."

He noted that the dichotomy has been apparent in the past.

"We're going to have to work our way through that, if we can," he said. 

He said he did not think they would solve anything before the short session begins this year. 

"There's a lot more information...that has to happen," he said. "We have to learn more and think it through and discuss it." 

According to the ratified session law that created the task force, "The task force shall report its findings and recommendations to the 2014 Regular Session of the 2013 General Assembly no later than April 15, 2014. The task force shall terminate on April 15, 2014 or upon the filing of its final report, whichever occurs first."

Horn said he is confident that the group will work to solve the issues. 

"When I look at the makeup of the task force...we are involving, listening to, talking with teachers, teacher groups and superintendents," he said. "I think we're going about it the right way, I hope we're don't get into too big of a hurry to solve the problem" and start making decisions without all the information, he said. 

He said there seems to be agreement so far on differentiated pay for teachers, where better teachers can make more money. However, there is no consensus on how to create such a system. 

"We've got to figure out how to deal with that part of it and we will," Horn said. 

He said he wished the group could meet more often. 

"I'm really glad we're doing this, I wish we would have started it a year ago," Horn said. "I think we have really open minds across the board...some people who really want to help figure this out. I'm pretty upbeat about it."