SHIPROCK — The Central Consolidated Education Association filed a grievance against its own district last month with hopes of backing out of a statewide teacher and principal evaluation pilot program.

The district, in July, volunteered to take part in the pilot program, along with the Aztec, Bernalillo, Las Cruces and Truth or Consequences districts.

The program, which began in this fall, enables the 55 schools involved to partially evaluate teachers and principals based on student performances on standardized tests.

CCEA believes that the district did not appropriately confer with the organization prior to agreeing to participation. In effect, CCEA filed a grievance with the superintendent, though the superintendent denied the grievance shortly thereafter.

In a letter to district staff, CCSD Superintendent Don Levinski followed up with a letter, which stated that the state director of the National Education Association said school districts don't have to confer with local teacher unions.

"All of our teachers and principals will have the opportunity to give input," wrote CCSD Superintendent Don Levinski in a letter to district staff. "We can complain about the evaluation system philosophically and get it rammed down our throats, or we could go through the process and express what we liked and disliked."

Levinski added that the district's participation might make it more eligible for grant funding. Additionally, the training for the program is free, he said.


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"This sounded like a no-brainer to me," Levinski wrote.

Still discontent, the district now has filed a grievance citing the Public Employees Bargaining Act and the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the district board of education.

Neither has been discussed yet during a general meeting, leading CCEA to proceed with a complaint to the New Mexico Labor Board.

The state NEA, on the other hand., has been nothing short of supportive of the pilot program - though one former teacher in Albuquerque is taking the program to court, according to New Mexico Public Education Department Spokesman Larry Behrens.

"No teacher organizations have expressed discontent over the pilot program," said Behrens.

State NEA Director Charles Bowyer even co-authored a supportive editorial in the Albuquerque Journal with New Mexico Secretary of Education-Designate Hanna Skandera in September.

"What about the teacher who inspires greatness in our children? Shouldn't they be acknowledged? What about the teacher who, though struggling can become exemplary with the right help and professional development?" the pair wrote.

The CCEA is hoping for a prompt response from the New Mexico Labor Board, perhaps giving it a chance to discuss the program further.