March 2011 Archives

Given the politics here, yesterday's Statement of Administration Policy opposing House Speaker John Boehner's proposed D.C. voucher legislation is news. But vouchers are an issue where it's easy for folks to get carried away, and the actual substance doesn't justify some of the rhetoric here. My colleague Andrew Rotherham's latest TIME column debunking 5 common myths about vouchers is a good corrective. I'd add a 6th, though, which is the exaggerated significance given to the D.C. Voucher program in education debates. Look, given the polarized climate in Washington, the politics of education policy, and the players involved, this ...


A new report from the Center for Reinventing Public Education looks at what Washington State is getting for its nearly $100 million annual investment in National Board Certified Teachers. Washington State teachers currently earn a $5,000 annual bonus--which has led to tripling the number of NBCTs in the state in the past 4 years--as well as an additional $5,000 for NBCTs who work in identified low-income "challenging" schools. CRPE finds that these bonuses have not be effective in incenting NBCTs to move to high-poverty schools, or to stay in challenging assignments. Washington Governor Christine Gregoire has proposed suspending ...


Several people have e-mailed me this recent Slate article by developmental scientist Alison Gopnik, which Slate, in its Slate-y wisdom, has chosen to run with the subhead, "New research shows that teaching kids more and more, at ever-younger ages, may backfire." Does this mean, folks are asking, that all this pre-k stuff you keep talking about could actually be hurting kids? Not exactly. Gopnik's research, presented in the article, is interesting stuff: Basically, she compared how children engage and problem solve with a novel toy when teachers directly demonstrate its workings to them, as opposed to encouraging them to explore ...


As states and the federal government tighten their fiscal belts, we're seeing increasing attention to the intergenerational distribution of public spending and cuts--and concern that policymakers are protecting benefits for the elderly at the expense of substantial cuts in investments in education and other children's programs that impact our nation's future. Analysis of federal expenditures indicates that less than 10% of the federal budget is spent on programs that benefit children--in contrast to the more than 1/3 of the federal budget that goes to fund health care and income support for the elderly. And since Social Security and Medicare ...


An important new report from the Early Childhood Data Collaborative is the first to provide a comprehensive overview of the state of state data systems for early childhood care and education. There is some good news here: States are actually collecting a lot of data on early childhood education programs and participating children. And a majority of states are linking data from state pre-k and early childhood special education programs with their K-12 data system. But there are also critical data gaps, particularly around the early childhood workforce and child outcomes in early childhood programs. And states are doing a ...


Looks like Interim D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson can go ahead and remove that "interim" from her title. Which will surprise absolutely no one who's been paying attention to how things have been unfolding in D.C. of late. Probably time for Rick Hess to dial back the caffeine. For those keeping score at home, let's note some of the things D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has done since taking office in January: Appointed Kaya Henderson first as interim chancellor and now upgraded that to chancellor. Appointed Hosanna Mahaley Johnson as state superintendent of education. Appointed De'Shawn Wright as ...


New research out of Tennessee documents the positive impacts of that state's voluntary pre-k program. Because more families want to participate in Tennessee's pre-k program than are able to be served in many districts, researchers were able to compare a sample of children who were randomly selected to participate in pre-k to a control group of those who were not. They found that children who participated in pre-k improved their vocabulary and comprehension skills over 100% more than children who did not participate. While gains from pre-k were greatest in early literacy, pre-k students also made greater gains in early ...


I've been increasingly struck, over the past few weeks, with how terribly our educational system treats the youngest and newest (not always the same thing) teachers. Consider the following: Due to seniority-based layoff policies, the youngest/newest 5-10% of teachers are essentially guaranteed to bear the full brunt of any layoffs, while their older colleagues are protected from them. We all know that teach pay is tied to years of experience, so novice teachers make less than their more veteran colleagues. But what's less well-known is that many teacher salary schedules backload salary bumps linked to compensation, so that teachers ...


For the past decade, the universal pre-k movement has worked diligently to increase the number of pre-k teachers who have bachelor's degrees. Pre-k advocates have urged the creation of state regulatory requirements mandating bachelor's degrees for teachers in state-funded pre-k, and they have supported investments in scholarships and support programs to help pre-k teachers complete bachelor's degree programs. These efforts have been hotly debated in early childhood circles, with some arguing that bachelor's degrees are essential to improve quality in the field and raise the status and wages of early childhood teachers, while others say that bachelor's degree mandates are ...


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