The anti-Chicago on teacher evaluations

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Today on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush singled out Hillsborough County, Fla., as a school district where the teachers union didn’t go the Chicago route over teacher evaluations: “In Hillsborough County, which is Tampa, thanks to the Gates Foundation, labor and management’s working together where there is an assessment of teachers based on learning gains of students. And it’s a thoughtful process. There was buy in by the union. I don’t think everybody is happy with it but most people are. And the net result is Hillsborough County has significantly higher achievement levels for kids in poverty for example than what takes place in Chicago.” 

We’re based in Tampa, and as we’ve noted before, Hillsborough is different. After Hillsborough teachers union president Jean Clements won re-election this year, Doug Tuthill wrote in part: “Teachers in school districts today are understandably skeptical of reforms given all the change that has occurred in public education over the last three decades.  Before they’re willing to embrace meaningful systemic changes, they want trusted leaders to explain why these changes are truly improvements. But as Jean has shown, once leaders lay out a vision and a believable strategy for accomplishing that vision, public school teachers are willing to roll up their sleeves and give it a try.” Read his full post here.

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BY Ron Matus

Ron Matus is director for policy and public affairs at Step Up for Students and a former editor of redefinED. He joined Step Up in February 2012 after 20 years in journalism, including eight years as an education reporter with the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times). Ron can be reached at or (727) 451-9830. Follow him on Twitter @RonMatus1 and on facebook at