By Ben Velderman

TOPEKA, Kan. – It looks like Kansas’ teacher unions may be getting a few lumps of coal in their Christmas stockings this year, courtesy of the state’s school board members.

The Kansas Association of School Boards decided last weekend that it will push state lawmakers to remove teacher evaluations as a topic of collective bargaining with the unions, reports the Associated Press.

If approved, such a measure would allow school boards to devise new evaluation systems without approval of local unions.

The group also wants “student learning to be the most important factor of teacher evaluations,” the AP reports.

The state’s school districts are already overhauling their teacher evaluation process, a condition of the No Child Left Behind waiver Kansas received from the federal government earlier this year. But KASB’s proposals are above and beyond the current changes, and teacher union leaders are none too happy about them.

Peg Dunlap, an official with the Kansas National Education Association, warned that banning evaluations as a topic for contract negotiation could make the process unfair for teachers.

“Otherwise it is easy for boards to cherry-pick people,” Dunlap said. “It only makes sense for the people being evaluated to have a role to play in these discussions.”

Kansas Association of School Boards official Mark Tallman disagrees.

“Local school boards are responsible for student outcomes,” Tallman explained to the AP. “We don’t think it’s appropriate to say that boards have to negotiate to adopt new, stronger requirements.”

As for making student learning the dominant factor in teacher evaluations, Tallman responded, “From our viewpoint … what else should be the primary factor?”

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