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Friday Reading List: PAR, Appropriations, UTLA, Teacher Ed.

Here's what we're reading over at Teacher Beat this Friday:

• Colleague Alyson Klein has yet another must-read item up on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's decision to yank the Senate version of the fiscal 2011 spending bill.There is more than a little irony in Republicans suddenly peeling off from this bill, since they had every bit as many earmarks in this bill as their Democratic counterparts. But who said politics made any kind of sense? Anyway, as Alyson ably points out, this is a blow to education groups who wanted to see increases this year. It's also a disappointment to teachers' unions, who hoped to see changes to the Teacher Incentive Fund, as well as to alternative-route preparers of teachers. Under that bill, they'd have been given some "highly qualified" teacher flexibility.

• John Merrow has reported a piece on Toledo's peer-assistance and -review program. It covers a lot of the same ground as my feature on PAR from last year, raising similar questions about whether the program covers enough tenured teachers to be considered a success.

• The L.A. Times reports that the teachers' union there has laid out its bargaining priorities. They include keeping class sizes small, avoiding layoffs, and ensuring that test scores aren't a part of teacher evaluations. The latter element is particularly interesting, given that Randi Weingarten herself of the American Federation of Teachers, urged the union to consider value-added as one small part of evaluations. (United Teachers Los Angeles is a merged AFT-NEA affiliate.) I haven't taken a close look at the budget there, but given that 80 percent or more of the average district's costs are in personnel and that the district is in some dire budget straights, this seems a bit optimistic. We'll see how things turn out.

• The Hechinger Report has a piece on teacher ed. reform using Alverno College in Milwaukee as a model. It's a nice roundup of some of the tensions in play and a description of Alverno's lauded competency-based teacher ed. program. One note, though: Alverno, though widely recognized as one of the best teacher ed. programs today, produces only 80 or so teachers a year. That's a lot fewer than some of the big producers of teachers, (generally the public state universities). So what kind of reform is going on in the bigger schools?

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