American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten had a quick briefing with reporters yesterday on all the edu-action this week. Asked about President Obama's defense of the Race to the Top program to the National Urban League, Weingarten said it's only natural that the president would focus on the $4.35 billion initiative. She also acknowledged that, despite her union's qualms about certain aspects of the program, Race to the Top demonstrates the power of federal education spending. "This is one of the president's signature initiatives," she said. "The Race to the Top has proven something really important: that the ...


The National Education Association's $6 million Priority Schools Campaign got a bit lost last year in the wake of all the Race to the Top action. Other reporters, myself included, had a hard time distinguishing this effort from all of NEA's other initiatives. Fortunately, while covering the NEA convention in New Orleans recently, I had a chance to sit down with Sheila Simmons and Steve Snider, the director and associate director, respectively, of the campaign. A 2009 mandate of the union's 9,000 delegate Representative Assembly, the campaign is funded through the union's strategic plan. It will focus on four ...


States should overhaul the accountability mechanisms for teacher-preparation programs so that they focus on the effectiveness of graduates in classrooms, as measured by such factors as value-added data, classroom-based teacher observations, surveys of graduates and administrators, and data on the "persistence" or retention rates of graduates in the profession, an analysis released this morning says. States should also craft common licensing tests to facilitate better state-to-state program comparisons. And finally, accountability provisions should apply equally to both traditional education school programs and to alternative routes, concludes the analysis by the Washington-based Center for American Progress. It's a good summary of ...


Teach For America teachers who are assigned to teach more than one grade, subject, or out-of-field are more likely to leave their schools—or the profession altogether, a new analysis concludes. The paper is the latest addition to a complex research base on the popular alternate-route-to-teaching program. (Eduwonk has a nice summary of the research over at his blog.) Morgaen Donaldson of the University of Connecticut and Susan Moore Johnson of Harvard University conducted the study, which is the first to my knowledge to examine the retention of TFA teachers longitudinally, using a national sample. It also avoids some of the...


Differences in which teachers get cut under a seniority-based layoff system compared with one based on teacher effectiveness are large and persistent, a new analysis of the New York City teaching corps finds. But unless the number of layoffs are considerable, the two approaches don't seem to differ all that much on how they affect class sizes, the analysis concludes. In general, critics of seniority-based policies say they require more teachers to be cut than under an effectiveness-based system, thereby raising class sizes. They also disproportionately affect low-income, high-minority schools that tend to have more novice teachers, such critics say. (If...


D.C.'s school chancellor moves to lay off more than 300 teachers, mostly for poor performance.


The NEA now supports a bill to close a fiscal "loophole" in the Title I program.


This year's union conventions have given us a lot to chew on, starting with their responses to teacher effectiveness issues.


Rumors were floating around for days that American Federation of Teachers officials would offer a resolution critical of the federal Race to the Top program, but such a resolution never made it to the convention floor. Some wonky background for you: An AFT affiliate did submit a Race to the Top resolution, but it wasn't considered because submitted resolutions are first handled by resolutions committees. Only three resolutions from each committee's list are put to the entire delegate assembly. The RTT resolution, I'm told, came up fourth. It will be referred to the union's executive council today, and then to ...


The American Federation of Teachers yesterday announced its next Innovation Fund grantees, and they'll be tackling everything from curricula to performance pay. I apologize for being a bit late to get you the news; yesterday was gangbusters at the AFT. Without further ado: • The Anchorage Council of Education, in Alaska, will help at-risk students earn diplomas by training "graduation coaches" in high schools. • The Boston Teachers Union will work to increase students' engagement in lessons by creating prototypes of high-quality instructional units that can be distributed online. • Education Austin, in Texas, will work with Austin Interfaith, a coalition...


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