February 2010 Archives

The much-awaited—by Teacher Beat anyway—proposed regulations for the Teacher Incentive Fund grant have finally been released by the Education Department. They are much more newsworthy for what's NOT explicitly stated than what they actually lay out. The teachers' unions have said that any federal performance-pay program should require grantees to collectively bargain the terms of the grant with the local union, or to use another adoption mechanism, such as a teacher vote. The notice dodges that issue almost entirely. Although the regulations would require all applications to engage stakeholders, per this addition in last year's budget bill, there...


Longtime Education Week editor Ann Bradley, a 21-year veteran of our newspaper, is heading over to the American Federation of Teachers. There, she'll serve as the interim director of the union's $3.3 million Innovation Fund, which supports joint union-management reform projects. For the past decade, Ann oversaw coverage of school leadership and management, urban school districts, and efforts to target special populations such as students especially at risk of failing. Before becoming an editor, she covered all things teacher for the publication. Ann has been a tremendous resource to all the reporters she's worked with here. She has encyclopedic ...


So reports The Associated Press. Nevada was one of five states that prohibited student-achievement data from being used in teacher evaluations, thus blocking the state from being able to apply for a cut of the $4 billion in federal Race to the Top funds. The state teachers' union did manage to get language into the bill, however, stipulating that test scores can't be the "sole criteria" for evaluating teachers. The caveat caused some consternation from Gov. Jim Gibbons and a handful of legislators. But in fairness to the union, the Race to the Top guidelines do say that multiple measures ...


Big news out of Los Angeles on school management: Under the district's choice movement, the school board will allow nonprofits made up mainly of teachers and administrators already in the district—rather than to charter school operators—to operate 22 new schools and turn around existing ones. Charter operators will only work with 4 of the schools up for this management round, which total 30 in all. The charter organizers are pretty upset about this, while United Teachers Los Angeles chief A.J. Duffy—who's famous for denouncing charters, saying principals are vindictive, and claiming L.A.'s bureaucracy...


The decision of Central Falls, R.I., Superintendent Frances Gallo to fire every teacher in a high school building is making big headlines in Rhode Island, attracting outrage from teachers' unions and from AFT President Randi Weingarten, and becoming a big education reform story now that The New York Times has picked it up. Under No Child Left Behind's 1003(g) school improvement grants, which are doled out by formula to states, the Obama administration outlined four possible models for dealing with the lowest-performing 5 percent of Title I and Title I-eligible schools. Gallo initially wanted to use a "transformation" ...


Two big pieces came out last week on "last hired, first fired" layoff policies in school districts, no doubt due to the continuing poor economy and the looming "funding cliff" created by the economic-stimulus legislation. I wrote about this not-well-publicized policy a while ago, so it's heartening to see it gaining some additional attention. In her piece for The Wall Street Journal, Barbara Martinez has some interesting quotes from parent advocates, who stand to play an important role in the debate over whether these policies should be rethought. The National Center on Teacher Quality, in the meantime, has a paper ...


Denver, home of the ProComp pay system, "professional development" schools, and two teacher "residency" programs, is now trying to break ground on teacher assignments. Superintendent Tom Boasberg has issued orders to end the policy of the forced placement of teachers who have been "excessed" into low-income schools, where records show they disproportionately land. The teachers' union protests that force-placed teachers aren't necessarily ineffective and that this new policy amounts to a stigma of sorts on those teachers. Kim Ursetta, the former head of the local union, also offers this take on the situation. On the other hand, a handful of ...


We have two exciting new additions to our ever-expanding stable of education blogs, Rick Hess Straight Up and Walt Gardner's Reality Check. Walt's first post has already made me think about what we all really mean about involving teachers in policymaking. I'm looking forward to see him elaborate on it in a future post, but for what it's worth, here are a couple of thoughts to chew on: If you think teachers aren't considered in policymaking, then the next logical question to ask is which mechanisms and strategies would be the most fruitful for increasing their voice. This is very ...


Leave it up to the Big Apple to make me look silly. I just got done writing how few examples there are of test scores being used for teacher dismissal and lo and behold, New York City is also moving forward on this front. GothamSchools has the scoop, including details on how the process would work. In general, teachers in the bottom quartile of effectiveness would be "tenure doubtful," although a principal could choose to offer it anyway. There was quite a kerfuffle a couple years ago when the United Federation of Teachers got an eleventh-hour provision in a state ...


In its Race to the Top plan, Rhode Island says that it will direct districts not to allow a student to be taught by more than one year by a teacher deemed "ineffective."


Under protest from some teachers, the Houston board of education last night approved a policy to permit the nonrenewal of contracts for teachers whose students make insufficient academic growth on the state test.


Houston chief Terry Grier considers whether granting pay bumps to teachers who hold master's degrees is cost-effective.


The New Teacher Project releases updated figures on teacher dismissals in Toledo after reviewing the district's peer-assistance and -review program data.


Center on Reinventing Public Education scholar Marguerite Roza and a colleague have a paper up about how districts could help to equalize uneven resources between richer and poorer schools without forcibly transferring teachers. (Disparities in teachers' salaries create much of the unevenness between more- and less-advantaged schools.) It's a fraught issue that's related to the "comparability" financial test districts have to pass in order to receive their Title I funding. If you're sufficiently interested in this wonky but important issue, read more in this related story. Then write in and let us know whether or not you agree with Roza's ...


Here's another teacher-related question on President Obama's budget request: Will it be good or bad for professional development? If lawmakers go along with cutting the Title II state formula grant program by half a billion dollars, then there'd already be fewer funds for professional development, unless class- size reduction—a large percentage of current spending under the program—is excised as an allowable use of the money. (Expect the teachers' unions to fight that tooth and nail.) And a few of the funding streams that have been consolidated were focused on professional development, such as the educational technology grants. ...


This is something that could change the mostly polite and noncommittal responses we've had so far on the budget.


I will confess to being somewhat confused by all the rhetoric around the new "college or career ready" accountability framework that the Obama administration is considering for the NCLB law. This Washington Post story makes a big deal about possible flexibility for the 2014 deadline, at which states' proficiency targets must reach 100 percent, and about the idea of intervening differently based on how far schools miss their targets. But wouldn't the idea of everyone graduating "college or career ready" still be pretty much a universal proficiency goal—and a harder one at that, if you believe our current standards...


In its FY 2011 budget request, the Obama administration has finally put its cards on the table with respect to its plans for the federal teacher programs.


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