February 2011 Archives

Per last week's post on layoffs by lottery, a correspondent sent me this example from Ann Arbor, Michigan: 4.813.3 Experience shall mean months, days and years of certificated employment in the Ann Arbor Public Schools. If two or more teachers have the same seniority and the Board must decide on laying off one of the teachers, the last four digits of the teachers social security number will be used as a tie breaker. The lower number will have the most seniority. Emphasis added. Srsly, people?!?!? Having grown up outside Ann Arbor, I am totally not shocked that people ...


Responding to Dana Goldstein's recent quasi-defense of "last in, first out" teacher layoff policies, Matt Yglesias writes : Note that since teacher compensation costs increase as a function of experience, LIFO is actually worse than the equally objective practice of firing teachers at random. LIFO maximizes layoffs relative to financial targets. Doing layoffs by lottery would allow districts to fire fewer teachers.But of course doing layoffs by lottery would be a pretty silly way to run an organization. [emphasis Sara's] The crazy thing here is that, while Yglesias is offering layoffs by lottery as a ridiculous example, the reality is ...


In a new paper published this week by the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, I look at the common goals and challenges facing the charter school and pre-kindergarten movements, and describe how both movements could benefit from greater collaboration. The charter school and universal pre-k movements have been two of the most significant and compelling movements in public education over the past decade. Both have grown tremendously since 2000--charters from 580,000 students served to 1.5 million and state-funded pre-k from 700,000 to more than 1.2 million--and gains in public and political support and acceptance outstrip ...


Most Americans don't recognize the extent to which zoning or land use policies impact the shape of our lives today. That goes for education reformers, too. But education reformers should care about zoning laws, for at least 3 reasons: 1. They create barriers to expanding high-quality charter schools: Lack of access to suitable facilities continues to be a major obstacle to expanding high-quality charter schools. Zoning rules, which can limit the locations where charters can operate, play a role in this. Joe Williams wrote a great Ed Next article awhile ago that addressed some of the ways zoning laws are ...


You may (or may not) have had yesterday off for Washington's Birthday (Observed), which is more commonly known as President's Day. But today is George Washington's actual birthday....


But in honor of President's Day.... *Speaking of which, who here knows when Washington's actual birthday is (put your answer in the comments, and I'll confirm the correct answer tomorrow)?...


Mark Kleiman, who is an incredibly smart man, has a great line on education technology: And that, in turn, is why the discussions about "educational technology" always seem so bizarre to me. It's as if vaudeville promoters in 1920 were discussing whether they should start using loudspeakers or disco balls, rather than understanding that radio and the movies were making their whole business model obsolete. It reminds me of another comment I recently heard along the lines of, "Education is the only field where technological innovation drives costs up instead of down, because it's always added on top of what's ...


Ok, so I admit to being somewhat perplexed yesterday about what all these breathless blog posts about Michelle Rhee were about, and I have to admit I still don't quite get it. So I'm quite grateful to Rick Hess for providing a clear explanation for what the heck people were going on about as well as a why it's a load of dookey. Helpful. Alexander Russo has been helping keep this ball spinning, but he does make a point worth considering: And yet, puffed-up preliminary results and ridgid adherence to a starting idea have become some sort of entry requirement ...


Check out this cool partnership between KIPP and the Children's Learning Institute at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. CLI, which conducts research and operates initiatives to improve quality in early childhood education programs, will partner with KIPP to launch a model pre-k through 4th grade charter school near the UT Health Center campus in Houston, enabling the two organizations to work together to learn how to serve children more effectively. The partnership also reflects KIPP's increasing move into the elementary and early childhood space....


Via Matt Yglesias, an interesting and troubling Wall Street Journal article on the proliferation of state licensure requirements for growing numbers of "professions," from cat groomers to florists, and smart analysis on the same. Matt's been writing a lot about this issue lately, and it's really fascinating to read the comments on his blog posts on this, all of which boil down to some version of: "But don't you want (people in X profession) to know how to do (professional thing x)?!?!?!" There's a weirdness to these comments. No one's disputing that it's good for, say, cat groomers to know ...


Wanna understand the political challenges facing the pre-k movement? Check out Joe Klein on the State of the Union. In a column praising the centrist tenor of Obama's speech, Klein writes: When he dealt with education, he eschewed the standard Democratic talking points about early-childhood programs like Head Start, which have become code words for spending more money on poor kids. Instead, he talked about accountability, which is code for breaking the stranglehold of teachers'-union work rules. Whatever you think of the substance here, the fact that Klein (and the large swath of conventional political wisdom he represents) views early ...


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