December 2009 Archives

Like half of Washington, D.C., I'm stuck at the airport waiting for a flight. Being the teacher-policy nerd that I am, here are a few items that have caught my attention as I've been scanning the news this morning. • The Detroit teacher contract was ratified by a 63 percent yea vote. Now everyone there can start dealing with all the other issues, like horrible scores on the NAEP and a new rubber room and the structure of performance-pay, peer-assistance, and peer-review programs. • Mathematica Policy Research has won a contract to evaluate the Teacher Incentive Program sites. (TIF, you'll...


• Apparently the contract under consideration in Detroit would create its own version of New York City's infamous "rubber rooms." • For an up-close look at the effects of central-office hiring processes, seniority provisions and working conditions, check out Emily Alpert's terrific three-part series in the Voice of San Diego. • Michele McNeil gives some Race to the Top application pointers over at Politics K-12. Finally, I'm heading back to Californ-eye-ay for some time with my family next week, so posting will probably be relatively light. Happy holidays from me and the Education Week team....


Florida's teachers' union will discourage affiliates from signing off on the state's Race to the Top plan.


To follow my previous post on the MOUs that states are beginning to create for their Race to the Top applications, it's quite interesting that some states are giving their teachers' unions seemingly much more leverage over whether or not the district will actually participate. Some states, like Colorado, are using the Education Department's model MOU wholesale. (It is in the appendix of the application). That one makes no reference to collective bargaining at all. Then there's Massachusetts' MOU, which adds this language: "Nothing in this MOU shall be construed to override any rights or duties as provided by collective ...


States want local unions to sign off on their Race to the Top Plans, but will affiliates agree to do so?


Misinformation about the details of a new contract agreement is causing concern.


Should there be two separate instruments for teacher improvement and accountability, or can the same instrument serve both purposes?


At the Center for American Progress, Raegen T. Miller, a policy expert (and former teachers'-union leader, natch) has an interesting paper up about "value-added" measures of teacher effectiveness. He has two major points: The term value-added itself, which comes from economics, is objectionable to some teachers. It probably needs to be changed reflect that teachers contribute to their practices in ways other than boosting test scores, and that the test scores themselves pick up factors outside of a teacher's control, he writes. He suggests the term "context adjusted achievement test effects" as an alternative. Second, systems that seek to incorporate ...


The Teacher Incentive Fund is poised to receive a large boost under a spending bill that is nearing completion.


Detroit schools' emergency financial manager Robert Bobb and teachers' union leader Keith Johnson have agreed to a tentative contract for the district that contains a lot of New Haven-like reforms. Given that, you'd be forgiven for wondering why the American Federation of Teachers isn't promoting the heck out of it. Well, as this Detroit Free Press story explains, it's not clear whether or not the union membership will actually ratify it. And that comes down to plain ol' bread and butter issues, not the new reform proposals. Given the district's dire financial straights, teachers wouldn't get raises for the next ...


Colleague Anthony Rebora, over at Education Week's Teacher Magazine, is live-blogging the National Staff Development Council's annual conference. He has a really great post up about the definition of professional development in the No Child Left Behind law. Be sure to check it out, because although this may seem wonky, it is probably going to raise its head during the reauthorization process. Lawmakers tried to put a stop to poor quality "one-shot workshops" for teachers almost a decade ago when they wrote the NCLB law. The professional development funded through NCLB's Title I, Title II, and right on down the ...


A few weeks back, I mused whether we'd see more state and local action to review seniority provisions, since it seemed like states were doing a lot on evaluation and pay, but not the related issue of seniority. Somehow I missed the action in Arizona. A state law that recently took effect there prohibits seniority or tenure from being considered when teachers are laid off and also does away with "recall rights." It would also give districts flexibility to select which teachers' salaries to reduce, rather than applying a general salary reduction. It isn't clear from the local news coverage ...


U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan shares his thoughts about federal teacher policy, including a $3 billion federal funding stream for supporting teacher quality, and teacher involvement in the shaping of performance-pay plans.


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