Landslides

Brent Finnegan -- November 3rd, 2009

Rockingham County went for the straight Republican ticket. No surprises there. After all, the county overwhelmingly voted for Gilmore over Warner last November.

But how did the city go so Republican? As John Elledge put it, “Obama’s Stone Spring precinct gives Lohr 63-37.” Remember this? What happened? Your best guesses below . . .

56 Responses to “Landslides”

  1. Emmy says:

    The only race that I’m shocked by is the Lohr/Hart race and for right now I think it’s best I keep my mouth shut about why I think that went the way I did because I’ll say something unkind.

    Gene, you did a great job and no one could say that you didn’t work hard enough! Thanks for all you did and for giving us a choice! I hope you consider running for this or something else again and I know more great things are on the horizon for you!

  2. Ugh.

    Bad day for the OD.

  3. Elledge says:

    It must be Tracy Evans’ leadership as GOP Chairman. During my Chairmanship the city went Democrat. My young law partner brought it back.

  4. Deb SF says:

    I was one of the chief election judges at Stone Spring today.. SS was one of the biggest in the state last November with more than 6,000 registered voters and more than 4,000 voting that day, long lines, long waits and lots stories to tell of the day. It’s precinct lines were redrawn and most of campus and some other areas (e.g. Purcell Park) are now in Spotswood. The proportions of types of voters in SS is now very different, with something under 5,000 registered. We broke a 1000, not by too much. Spotswood went for Gene. We sent a lot of folks over there to vote, of all types- students, families, retired folks.

  5. linz says:

    Low, low, low voter turnout, especially with the under 30 crowd.

  6. julie says:

    Boo for 34% turnout.

    This isn’t very good news for any of us who work for state higher ed. Budget cuts were no fun under Kaine — this Regent University grad is probably not going to have much room for JMU in his budget.

  7. Renee says:

    I know it wasn’t an exciting race, but I’m really disappointed in the turnout – seems like Democrats let the Republicans out-vote them, or that the young crowd doesn’t realize the Governor’s importance. I thought after Obama’s election, people would have realized how important every vote is.

    I can’t believe the Republicans won so strongly, I don’t think this is good for Virginia. (And I really don’t think the incumbent Dems were so bad that their party needed to be ousted landslide-style.)

    I don’t think McDonnell or Lohr are good for our state or local area, and to me the only reason to vote for either was if you were voting all Republican despite the candidate. I’m worried about how this will affect our state.

  8. John Elledge says:

    Deb, thanks for the reminder about how Spotswood was reconstituted. It’s always been the toughest precinct for the GOP – at least in my memory. Now that truth is on steroids. It’s the only precinct in the 26th district in which a Democrat won, and EVERY Democrat won Spotswood.

  9. Scott Rogers says:

    Wow — did you notice that the meals tax passed this time for Rockingham County? 53.86% to 46.13%

  10. Bill says:

    Voter fatigue is one of many reasons along with the disappearing JMU student vote in the city. Virginia is not a state that will give power to one party over the other indefinately anymore- it was time for a change and the voters statewide clearly spoke.
    Re the meals tax- it’s about time that the people of the county realized that they can leverage other people’s tax dollars with theirs and get a bigger bang for the buck!

  11. Lowell Fulk says:

    Congratulations to my Republican Friends.

    I hope your victory is a victory for all Virginians. I really hope the ideas put forth in which people have placed their trust, work as proposed. I wish success for the Governor Elect, the Lt Governor Elect, the Attorney General Elect, and all of the Members of the House of Delegates who were elected, in guiding this state to prosperity. We all have a vested interest in our elected representatives doing well for our state, and on our behalf.

    I would also like to thank the wonderful individuals who decided to put themselves before the public as candidates for the House of Delegates. Gene Hart, Greg Marrow, John Lesinski, Erik Curren, and Jeff Price, you have honored your communities with your efforts, and your ideas.

  12. Chris says:

    I’m pretty happy with the results. Creigh Deeds would have been disastrous for the state.

  13. JGFitzgerald says:

    A theme you’ll begin hearing as the dust settles is not just the turnout vs. 2008, but the turnout vs. 2005. Keister, for instance, had 1,614 votes for governor this year, 1,701 four years ago. Mostly a non-student precinct, Keister should have grown slightly, but shrank, not just in turnout percentage, but in actual numbers. Late polls gave Democrats little to hope for, and the numbers reflect fewer Dems going to the polls. Not just students and first-time voters, but long-time voters. We were the Redskins of politics this year.

  14. Deb SF says:

    One other observation from yesterday, just anecdotal: this is the first election where I’ve had people use the f*word to my face. 3 occasions, all post-50ish white males, not “at me” or “about me”, but “to me”. Two of the occasions were about the “f-ing JMU students”, one about the “f-ing illegal immigrants”, random conversations that people started without any prompting from me, completely out of the blue.

    This is after working 4-5 years of elections at Stone Spring- from primaries which only drew 300 people to the massive 08 election where we processed more than 4,000 voters. I heard a handful of folks refer to “g-damn JMU students” as well. I am religiously nonpartisan at the polls, and limit conversations with voters to the weather and how cute their kids are, and I have to say this kind of shocked me. I, like, *know* all those words, but to hear them used in this context was kind of startling.

    Anecdotes aren’t data, but just *wow*.

  15. JGFitzgerald says:

    Extending the Redskins metaphor to cover the empty seats: Despite estimate population growth of a quarter million (Weldon Cooper guesses, extrapolated) about 10,000 fewer people voted this year than four years ago. The explanation for this, and I’ll wait for Sabato, just about has to be the long-term Dems who just didn’t show up. Less a Pub backlash against what Obama has done, than a Dem backlash against what he hasn’t.

  16. Interesting analysis, everyone. Sounds like the Dems’ real opponent was apathy.

    I’d be willing to give McDonnell and all the Republicans who won yesterday an extra year in office if Virginia could switch to having state elections along with the majority of other states. To me, it’s a turnout and fatigue issue. I only want to vote once every other year.

  17. Karl says:

    Julie should remember that McDonnell’s daughter goes to JMU, so I doubt he’ll let the walls fall down. Also, JMU has done pretty well recently with all the construction projects and property that the school has acquired.

    I agree with Emmy about Gene. Gene did not deserve the lopsided fate. I felt like he and the rest of the Democratic candidates were very strong in the local House of Delegate’s races, but none were able to make a good showing. It’s a product of the microwave effect, where people expect things immediately. New Dems mobilized by the Obama campaign and disenfranchised Republicans that voted for “change” expected it to come too quickly and when it wasn’t immediate, they went back to the other side or simply didn’t vote.

  18. Nicholas Detweiler-Stoddard says:

    “Less a Pub backlash against what Obama has done, than a Dem backlash against what he hasn’t.”

    Disillusionment was a huge factor against the Democratic party, especially those under 30. I wanted to cry last year when every young voter viewed Obama and the Dems (including Kai) as messiah figures who would resurrect true democracy at the federal, state, and local level. I had the terrible feeling that when our representatives could not live up to our over-inflated expectations, political disillusionment and apathy would ensue. (Any young voters out there to corroborate this assessment?)

    It also did not help to have such an angry, energized Republican giant awaken after last year’s elections.

  19. Nicholas Detweiler-Stoddard says:

    “To me, it’s a […] fatigue issue. I only want to vote once every other year.” Brent

    Election fatigue played a huge role in the inability to get grass roots mobilization behind the gubernatorial race. Many people I know busted their butts just last year to see Harrisonburg go Democratic. They were just too busy (and still recovering) to do the same this summer and fall!

    As far as voter fatigue…we must just be lazy. It took me 2.5 minutes to get in and out at Waterman last evening. With the bike ride home and the stop at Red Front, the whole process took under 10 minutes.

  20. It’s not the act of voting that takes time and effort. It’s being informed, and (for some) enduring month after month of annoying, mind-numbing attack ads.

    For my part, it takes time and effort to even do a Q&A with candidates on hburgnews, and a Q&A is the absolute bare minimum that should be done to inform voters. Ideally, there would be some real digging and analysis of past promises, voting records, affiliations, and possible conflicts of interest. But since I barely have time for Q&A, I most certainly don’t have the time/money/resources for that.

  21. Nicholas Detweiler-Stoddard says:

    Thanks for the corrective, Brent. You’re right, I know a number of people close to me who did not vote because they did not feel like they could make a responsibly informed choice–not because they didn’t have time to go to the polls, but because they did not have time throughout the preceding months to dig through electoral sh*t raking for nuggets of reality.

  22. JGFitzgerald says:

    The impression of voting taking a long time is self-fulfilling. Using laptops instead of poll books sped the process considerably this year, such that at most precincts there was never a line worthy of the name. But most people come out only in a presidential year, when there will be a line regardless of what’s used. They skip the state and local elections because a long line and a long wait is their only frame of reference, and they don’t think the council and General Assembly races are worth it. The Pubs really did not do any better than last year on turnout, and the Dems did not really do anything different. It would, in every objective way, have been easier for Dems to vote this year, and yet turnout from 2005 (Kaine v. Kilgore) was five percent lower in raw numbers. Turnout should have been 200 votes higher in the city. It was down by 350.

  23. Nicholas Detweiler-Stoddard says:

    Are you saying turnout in 2005 was five percent lower than yesterday, or are you saying yesterday was five percent lower compared to 2005?

  24. JGFitzgerald says:

    City down 350 since 2005 (“from 2005” as opposed to “in 2005”.) Statewide, earlier today, with 16 of 2,600 precincts still out, down 10,000 from 2005. Fewer people, in raw numbers, voted this time than four years ago. (The 16 precincts outstanding would have to have turnout of about 600 each to put the state up to 2005 levels. Not a huge number, with precinct sizes in the state ranging from a few hundred to a maximum of 5,000.) With about a quarter million new people in the state since then, there should have been about 170,000 more registered, and 85,000 more voting over 2005. This is drop-off from Kaine-Kilgore, not from Obama-McCain, so we’re not talking about new voters. We’re talking about roughly 80,000 people who normally would have voted, and didn’t.

  25. Barnabas says:

    Cuccinelli scares me….

  26. julie says:

    I’m not worried about the walls falling down at JMU, but the budget cuts aren’t getting better and it’s the governor’s budget. I’m hoping McDonnell is more supportive of public education than Gilmore was, because my job is low on the totem pole at JMU and was only saved from this year’s cuts by ’08 stimulus money.

  27. Lowell Fulk says:

    Much was saved by the stimulus money. This year… Please remember that the party which just overwhelmingly won, was totally against accepting stimulus money. Public education is about to take a monstrous hit.

  28. Yeah, I noticed that Greg Coffman and Tom Mendez, both Republicans, were giving credit to stimulus dollars for having saved either 20 or 30 Harrisonburg City Schools jobs.

    Both also looked to Matt Lohr’s “integrity” and support for the schools for their reasons they endorsed him…they didn’t have a reply when I asked them on the radio about why they supported Lohr if he voted for a budget that didn’t fully-fund the state’s mandated obligation to the City Schools…

    That’s what you get with Mendez and Coffman.

  29. seth says:

    while i’m all for public education, i think there are places where we could reasonably save some money. i know people hate hearing it, but to me, 40k seems like a really crazy amount for an unproven 22 year old w/ a BAMT to start at in hburg.

    i guess that’s pretty irrelevant with regards to JMU, but in general, i’d like to see more educators who are willing to make the sacrifices that folks in the real world are making right now.

  30. Lowell Fulk says:

    I’m sorry Seth, but could you elaborate just a bit? I’m not up to speed about which you are writing.

  31. Jeremy Aldrich says:

    Seth, here is some info on starting salaries in different fields.

    Here is the Harrisonburg teacher salary scale. Here is the Rockingham teacher salary scale. Here is Census info on average income in Harrisonburg.

    I am really curious about your statement that you’d “like to see more educators who are willing to make the sacrifices that folks in the real world are making right now.” What sacrifices would you like to see made by educators? What sacrifices are folks in the “real world” making?

  32. Lowell Fulk says:

    Very fair questions Jer. Seth?

  33. Karl says:

    From my perspective Jeremy, teachers are not looking at pay cuts. The school boards may jump the scales around to screw a teacher out of an anticipated raise, but my impression is no one is making less this year than last. In my job I will be making less for the third straight year as my company makes yet another round of cuts. Many folks in Seth’s “real world” are dealing with the same thing…take less money or take a place in the unemployment line. Teacher’s do have to worry about layoff’s (aka not having their contract renewed) in the current economic environment, but pay reduction doesn’t seem to be an option or problem.

    Again, this is my impression and welcome any correction.

  34. JGFitzgerald says:

    The main thing I’d add to Karl’s assessment is that state and local employees may have to pay more of their retirement and insurance costs. (And I’d replace “real world” with “private sector” in the earlier characterizations, but that’s a different issue.)

  35. seth says:

    jeremy,
    i haven’t had a chance to digest the census data, but i will say that you’re going to have a hard time convincing me that 40k (or even 38k if you don’t have that one year quasi-master’s degree) is in line with entry level salaries for other 22 year olds in our communities.

    in terms of sacrifices made by folks in the real world, i’d like to put it in perspective with a conversation i had at a trivia game a couple weeks ago. i was sitting with friends (one of whom is a local educator) and the question was ‘which state’s teachers just volunteered to work four days instead of five in order to save money for the school system?’ after determining that the correct answer was hawaii, i commented that i wasn’t sure why the teachers were being portrayed as the selfless ‘volunteers’ (that’s how i heard it framed in every news story in which i heard it mentioned), when it was bus drivers, cafeteria workers and other hourly employees who were probably bearing the brunt of the cuts. my educator friend said that she didn’t think that the framing of the question implied that teachers were the heroes in the situation and that she figured that i was correct that the teachers weren’t taking 20% paycuts, only working less hours for the same pay. in response, i said, ‘well, plenty of us are.’ she seemed pretty shocked (which is understandable when you consider that she has a government job in one of the only sectors to have actually increased the amount of jobs since things went south).

    i’m not advocating 20% pay cuts for educators or any other government employees. i’m only saying that those of us who have private sector jobs are happy that we still have them and that there are many of us who feel like what we do is important enough that we’ll stay where we are in the face of significant reduction in pay rather than try to go elsewhere and get paid what we’re worth.

    all that being said, i do believe that we should bring the starting salary for teachers more in line with other folks in the same age range with similar educational backgrounds. if they’re turn out to be really great teachers, then i’d be more inclined to say that it’s reasonable to pay them 40k (perhaps after the first year or two), but i think it’s an excessive compensation for someone who has yet to demonstrate that they’re good at what they do.

  36. Dany Fleming says:

    Seth – you’re right to be concerned about public education. Nothing is more fundamentally important to our country. That may be why no one is more under a microscope than educators.

    So, for something so important as education, finding more $$ to squeeze out doesn’t seem like a sound strategy Unlike almost every other field, public educators take all comers. They do not get to pick and choose who can come through their doors because those people are “unprofitable” for “business.” That’s absolutely the great ideal of our public education as well as a heavy challenge.

    Lowering entry incentives isn’t a way to attract the best talent. But, it’s not the starting salaries that are a problem, it’s the upper end – they should be higher! If you want to see education improve, then give the “better” educators more incentives (i.e. $$) to improve their craft. Get rid of the idea that tenure is the best indicator and best route to higher salaries (though, tenure does have some place). Let them get to those higher salaries quicker if they can show it quicker.

    I also have no doubt that teachers should be at the forefront in developing a more rationale compensation system. (which is why teacher’s unions need to reverse course and get on-board before a system is developed for them). I think the good and best teachers (new and veteran) will welcome the chance.

    Good compensation for a job well-done is something business demands – and gets. Why shouldn’t that apply to teaching? I have no doubt that teachers will sacrifice more if we (taxpayers) have an equal sacrifice. Folks with the most $$ plunk down the big bucks to be at the best schools (public or private). They expect their kids to get a great education in return and it usually works for them. Ask any realtor what most motivates home sales to families. Why do the rest of us expect the same return without the plunk?

  37. JGFitzgerald says:

    Seth,

    It’s a complex equation, with age, education and experience not being the only factors. There’s demand, and there’s responsibility. A 22-year-old Java programmer will make more, because there are fewer of them, but if he fails at his job, nobody will arrive in third grade unable to count.

  38. seth says:

    i see what you’re saying joe, and i do agree. on the other side of it though, if that java programmer languishes in mediocrity, their (please note that i’m not assigning a gendered pronoun) salary will reflect that (also, i think you’d find more java programmers who could teach children how to count than you would elementary school teachers who could program java).

    i value good teachers highly, and i think that our society should do the same. when we start everybody out at the same point and promote them at the same rate, that’s not what we’re doing.

    i think dany makes really good points (except for that i do feel entry level teachers should be paid entry level salaries) and they get at the heart of why i said what i said in the first place.

    if we’re going to form a concensus on the fact that the party in power is bad for making difficult decisions with regards to what we can afford in terms of education (seemed to be the direction the thread was going), i think it might also behoove us to examine the unions who are responsible for the inflated starting salaries and lack of a merit based pay scale (which would ensure that we don’t overcompensate people who don’t do their jobs well) (i also recognize that it’s not as simple as saying ‘your students did well on the SOLs, we’re going to pay you more’ because this disadvantages teachers who might be very good, but prefer to teach at risk kids).

    in terms of dany’s point that lowering entry incentives will affect the quality of talent coming in, this may be (and likely is) true. if it is though, it makes it difficult for teachers to claim that they do what they do primarily because they want to make a difference (that is, that money and a shorter work year than the rest of the polpulation are not important motivating factors). 30k would be a high starting salary here for someone with an equivalent education and skill set. throw in the guarantee that you will have a job come hell or high water and that sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.

    at any rate, i think that before laying blame in a strictly partisan manner, we should consider that there may be things we could do to mitigate the necessity of budget cuts.

  39. Jeremy Aldrich says:

    Seth, you keep talking about bringing starting teacher salaries in line with other people their age. Where is your data for that? Would it be more fair to compare teachers to all college graduates, or to compare them with those who have to attain professional licensure, or what? If you’re comparing them to folks in fields like art history and English, you’re going to get quite a different comparison than comparing them to engineers and health professionals.

    And again, what sacrifices were you alluding to earlier that you’d like to see educators make?

  40. Jeremy Aldrich says:

    Bear in mind too that unlike in many professions, someone in their first year often has as many if not more job responsibilities (most difficult classes, most extracurricular assignments, etc.) than someone who has been there a while. That may be a problem with the profession, but it is the reality on the ground.

  41. Karl, my wife works at a corporation. Her health/dental/retirement/education benefits are better even during these lean times than they ever were in my public education job. For people squeezed by rising health costs, a salary freeze is a de facto salary reduction as they will be taking home less each month due to increases in insurance costs.

    If it came down to cutting salaries or cutting jobs, I’m not sure which ways the teacher advocacy groups would come down…personally I’d prefer cutting salaries by some reasonable amount to preserve job quality…it’s not like we have a bunch of folks sitting around on their hands as it is.

    Seth and Dany point out the incredible difficulty of creating a teacher evaluation system good enough to be linked to salary. Such a system would require a lot more administrators to do the evaluating than schools currently have…and under McDonnell’s plan, jobs that aren’t directly in the classroom aren’t considered very important even if they make the classroom experience better.

  42. Dany Fleming says:

    Good conversation….I wouldn’t give you much argument on changing an entry-level salary, assuming a better incentive system’s in place once you’ve proven your worth.

    Something to consider with lower entry salaries, though. As a parent of 2 school kids, I’d be awfully anxious if my 2nd grader was being taught by the lowest paid, 1st year teacher in the school. Saving money sounds great to everyone but the parents of those kids – and those parents are paying the same rates as everyone else. Having good oversight and support is critical and I think most schools make that support effort.

    I agree that teachers are probably more altruistic. However, that’s just a good characteristic. It shouldn’t drive the pay scale or lower their value.

    However, following your consensus line. This administration and Ed Secretary are anything but Democrat/partisan idealogues. In Chicago, they both took on the strong teacher’s union. They helped establish the very good charter system in Chicago and a newer idea called contract schools. In Chicago, the charters have flourished and expanded; the few that didn’t hit the higher standards were closed – a new reality for public schools. Those schools are also THE most public schools – open to anyone by lottery – and oversight is by the Chicago school district.

    Within those charters and contract schools, creative merit pay and performance pay ideas are being used. Many of the developed with/by teachers. That’s probably why those schools attract some of the strongest, most idealistic and creative teachers and administrators. Those schools have negotiated measurement systems that look at things like relative student increases (as opposed to strictly absolute numbers), truancy rates, parent satisfaction, college entry, etc.

    These aren’t necessarily cost increasing measures. They’re also ideas that this Administration knows well and openly campaigned around – much to the anxiety of the teacher’s unions. To your point, charters can much more quickly move out a poor performing teacher – which those teachers certainly know and accept.

    (To note, vouchers are not part of this Administration’s equation. I also think vouchers would turn our ed system into our health system – leaving lots of folks without a school that’ll take them. Our public system requires everyone to go to school and a voucher system couldn’t live with that idea. But that’s another debate.)

    Charters and merit pay are far from a silver bullet – but they’re very informative for the public system. Harrisonburg could put some of the lessons learned into play right now – without increasing the budget.

  43. Emmy says:

    I don’t have anything terribly useful to add to this discussion, but the one thing I can say is that there are some areas where cuts should not be made and education is one of those.

    There are a lot of people in this world who get paid too much for what they do. But the people who will always remain underpaid in my mind are firefighters, police officers, EMT’s, teachers, and others in similar professions.

  44. Dany Fleming says:

    Jeremy – I certainly didn’t mean to imply an alternative teacher evaluation system is incredibly difficult to create. The politics of it certainly make it difficult to put into place. It also doesn’t necessarily create an extra administration burden.

    There are lots of good examples in some big cities. Some of them developed and implemented from a “progressive” grouping within one of the teacher’s unions.

    However, the point is that we have to think more creatively. As someone once told, “If Abe Lincoln were alive today, he wouldn’t recognize anything…until he walked into a school.”

  45. Dany, I’d be interested in knowing which teacher evaluation systems you know of that don’t create extra administrative burdens. The ones I know of do:
    – In Cincinnati, the system requires numerous evaluations and makes administrators out of teachers (thus passing on part of their teaching load to someone else).
    – In D.C.’s new system, it is a combination of student test score improvement plus five 30-minute observations (annually) followed by meetings between the observer and the teacher.

    Here is an interesting speech given recently about teacher evaluation systems. I liked this part:

    “Teacher evaluation in most places, however, is a checklist filled out by a harried administrator during a drive-by walk-through visit of a classroom. In the districts where I’ve worked, the annual procedure was supposed to go like this: a pre-visit conference between myself and the principal to discuss my work since last year’s evaluation, review any areas that were in need of improvement, note any changes or new conditions, and plan for the classroom visit. Next, would come the classroom visit itself; a full-period visit by the principal. The last step was a post-visit conference to review what the administrator saw, clarify areas of concern. Between the steps, the administrator would review my lesson plans (something that s/he should do throughout the school year) and other classroom evidence (student work, test data, etc.) that might shed light on the quality of my work. In over 15 years of high school teaching, I got that full procedure only twice, one of those being my rookie year. I have taught under five principals, one of whom has never seen me teach; three others saw me teach for half of one period. Most years, they simply filled out the paperwork and sent me a copy of my “perfect” evaluation.”

    School administrators already have incredibly demanding jobs, requiring them to oversee dozens or hundreds of employees while constantly responding to student and parent concerns, in addition to maintaining (usually large and old) buildings and somewhere in there being an instructional leader and big-picture thinker. I’m not saying their lack of teacher observation is a flaw on their part at all. If we want a rigorous and fair teacher evaluation system (which I do too), somebody has to do the evaluatin’.

  46. megan says:

    Amen to Emmy.

  47. Dany Fleming says:

    Great feedback, Jeremy.

    Denver has a promising system using multiple measures and approaches. Minnesota has an interesting approach. New Haven just announced a new system with cheers from Arne Duncan and their teacher’s union (connected to the innovative group TURN). Dallas appears to be having good results. Rochester, NY was an early leader in this work. Chicago charters have lots of good results that are not over-burdensome.

    Cincinnati? …a good early effort at getting the union and district to somewhat collaborate. The initial result, though, was a watered-down program; relying too heavily on the union’s idea of pay incentives based on teacher’s acquiring more “knowledge and skills.” The problem is, ironically, research shows no correlation between advanced teacher credentials and student test scores gains. (though I certainly don’t stand behind those tests as great measures).

    DC?…I’m not buying into that new Superintendent just yet.

    A lot of the early merit-pay systems have certainly uncovered issues, e.g. does relying too much on test-scores just lead to “teaching to the test.”Lots of union folks have jumped on that. But don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good – or we’ll never make any progress. Lots has been learned.

    As your teacher notes, the evaluation systems used by many districts is a useless rubber stamp of “perfect.” (Feel free to weigh in on how Harrisonburg’s teacher evaluation system works). Your teacher’s quote is compelling speech – though I’m not convinced she can pull any real data to support her larger claim. Her points are still important to understand and take seriously.

    However, it also does not reflect how administrators in merit-based pay systems are evaluating their teachers. As a matter of fact, the research shows that merit-based pay principal’s evaluations are actually one of the most highly correlated system to student performance.

    And that’s the real issue – how do you connect teacher classroom behavior and student performance?

    But, to your point about school administrators. What are administrators supposed to do if not to make sure their teachers are doing their job well?! Principals jobs are very multifaceted and difficult. However, I think they’d welcome the chance to have more charge of their staff. And, do you think principals aren’t the sharpest observers of their teachers? I’m pretty sure they know who their star teachers are.

    Peer evaluation is also a great tool and being used in a number of places. And you know what, it turns out that people actually don’t sugar-coat the evaluations of their peers. They do a pretty good job of sorting themselves out.

    Sorry for the long-winded response. But it’s a good and important conversation…

  48. eso says:

    I don’t agree with all the Republican social policies, but at least our guns will be safe. I’d like to hope they would do something about illegals, but truth be told they don’t have that much power over “immigration” [sic] on a local level.

  49. JGFitzgerald says:

    Eso,

    I am a Democrat and we control the United States government. That government has the largest military in the world. It is larger than all the others combined. In Virginia alone, it has aircraft carriers, jets, bombers, bomber jets, fighters, F-16s, M-16s, tanks, anti-tank weapons, cannons, and a couple of hundred thousand trained fighters. Do you really believe that your guns are safe? I’ve already talked to the VLWC (the Vast Left-Wing Conspirary) and they’re going to come to your house and take your guns either Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on weather. The Republicans said it would be OK so long as we don’t raise taxes to do it. Sorry.

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    HARRISONBURG, VA — Friendly City Food Co-op, slated to open this month in Harrisonburg, Va., has become the newest member of the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), a business services cooperative serving 120 consumer-owned food co-ops nationwide.

  • Harrisonburg Recognized as a Bike Friendly Community

    May 2: Harrisonburg was honored when the League of American Bicyclists announced the latest round of Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) designations over the weekend to kick off May as National Bike Month.