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A Last-Minute Reprieve on New Teacher-Prep Rules

In a somewhat anticlimatic conclusion to a week of stressful negotiations, the brokers crafting new federal teacher-preparation rules have managed to convince the Education Department to consider giving them more time.

They plan to have a conference call next week, during which the agency will determine whether or not to hold a fourth negotiating session

At today's session, the Education Department and the non-federal negotiators were not able to come to an agreement about the key hot-button issue—whether to attach the federal reporting and accountability system for teacher preparation to a federal financial-aid program known as TEACH, which supports teachers in high-needs schools.

Part of the problem was that this issue did not come to the table until the very last hour of discussion. There were a slew of last-minute proposals by a caucus of negotiators and counter-proposals by the Education Department, but ultimately time ran out.

That prompted a lot of handwringing from negotiators who didn't want to throw in the towel just yet.

"At this point ... we don't feel that the work is done, and I don't think we as a group are ready to put our name to something that is incomplete," said Eric Mann, a teacher candidate representative on the panel.

Some negotiators faulted ED's tendency over the last three days to introduce new issues and draft documents every day of the negotiations.

"I do think consensus is possible, but right now there's a lot of frustration in the group about the organization [of the rulemaking] and how it's been handled," said Beverly Young, the assistant vice chancellor of academic affairs for the California State University System.

Education Department officials initially said they couldn't host a fourth negotiating session. And Michael Dannenberg, a senior policy adviser and counsel in ED's postsecondary division, at one point referred to the Education Department's last draft as a "final offer." But in the end, the agency relented.

So there's more to come, and we'll be here to bring it to you.

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