Here's a quick followup on the New York City merit-pay plan announced last week. The United Federation of Teachers' blog says the union-endorsed NYC plan sends a signal to Congress that this is the best way to do performance pay. "New York City is sending a clear message to the members of Congress considering the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind: the way to improve schools does not lie down the road of setting teacher against teacher, but of bringing teachers together in common cause and effort on behalf of their students," the UFT's blog—EdWize—says in this post....


While the NCLB reauthorization debate is almost exclusively behind closed doors right now, the fight over its funding is out in the public. Alyson Klein's story for the next issue of Education Week (which was posted on www.edweek.org today) suggests that it's too soon to predict what might happen. More than 140 House Republicans signed a letter to the president in May saying that they would support the president if he vetoes spending bills. But some of them turned around to vote for the House's bill that appropriates money for education, labor, and other domestic programs—a bill...


Lots of talk in the education blogosphere about New York City's merit-pay deal. (See here, here, and here.) The Swift & Change Able Charles Barone suggests that this announcement could be a turning point on the NCLB debate over teacher pay. I see one key element in the New York City plan that could be a congressional roadblock: Union approval. In New York City's case, the United Federation of Teachers' approval was central to getting the deal done. Unions will certainly point to UFT's support as the reason why teachers are willing to experiment with merit pay. I'm hearing House Democrats ...


Senate aides last night circulated a discussion draft of sections of NCLB. The draft addresses issues that aren't controversial, avoiding topics such accountability and teacher pay. Both Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and Sen. Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., the panel's senior Republican, endorsed the draft. Melissa Wagoner, a spokeswoman for the HELP Committee, e-mailed this response to my query about the process: "Chairman Kennedy is pleased that progress has been made, working with committee members, on many issues related to this reauthorization. The draft legislative language released yesterday includes ...


In response to one member's "strong concerns" about the House's NCLB draft, two members of the Congressional Black Caucus yesterday said that they like much of the proposal. They add that the caucus—known by its acronym, CBC—hasn't taken a position on the bill. "While a quality education for all children is certainly a priority for all members of the CBC, we respect the right of each CBC member to evaluate the specific legislation as it moves through the legislative process and to take whatever final position he or she sees fit," Reps. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott, D-Va., and...


With congressional leaders and staff working behind the scenes to hammer out differences on NCLB, the current issue of Education Week looks at some little-noticed issues in the debate over law's future. For 'Scientific' Label in Law Stirs Debate, Debra Viadero reports on the "quiet debate" over the definition of "scientifically based research." The phrase, which appears more than 100 times in the law, currently favors randomized or experimental studies. The House's draft would allow other types of studies to fall under that definition, so long as they aim to determine whether educational interventions are effective. The Department of Education's ...


The panelists at the American Enterprise Institute today touched on accountability, national standards, and the universal proficiency goal. All of that was to be expected; the panelists were discussing on a new book addressing those issues. But the most telling comments came when the panelists mentioned the House's draft to reauthorize NCLB. In talking about the draft's proposal to turn around low-performing schools, Michael Casserly, the executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, said that the proposal incorporates some of his group's ideas. But those ideas have been combined with so many others that he's not sure ...


President Bush today said that he would veto a version of NCLB that he doesn't like. It's the first time he's used the threat. "Any effort to weaken No Child Left Behind Act will get a presidential veto," he said at a town hall meeting in Rogers, Ark. "I believe this piece of legislation is important, and I believe it's hopeful, and I believe it's necessary to make sure we got a educated group of students who can compete in the global economy when they get older." Later at the event, he said he would veto appropriations bills this year. ...


Chester E. Finn Jr. and Frederick M. Hess (aka Checker and Rick) keep saying that NCLB, as as its currently constructed, won't result in better schools. Their first point is always that the goal of universal proficiency needs to change. The current goal is "noble but determinedly unrealistic," as Hess writes with Rosemary Kendrick in this Education Week commentary. In this piece for The Education Gadfly, Hess and Finn call the goal "noble yet naïve." "The inevitable result is cynicism and frustration among educators and a 'compliance' mentality among state and local officials," they write. The best course, they ...


Yesterday, Republicans signaled through this news story that they don't like the House draft. Today, I found a Democrat who has his own complaints. Rep. Albert R. Wynn, D-Md., wrote the chairman of the House education committee last week to "express my strong concerns regarding the direction we appear to be heading" in NCLB reauthorization. (Sorry, no link. The letter is not online.) Here are a few choice quotes: "I am deeply concerned that the draft continues to rely so heavily on measuring schools based on standardized test results .... We cannot get a true picture of student and school achievement ...


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