American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten had a brief call with reporters this afternoon in which she praised the Obama administration for proposing to boost education spending even as most other areas are slated for cuts. "We very much appreciate that the core education budget has been preserved," she said. Whether she'll like the specific education priorities in the budget is another story. So I asked about the Teacher Incentive Fund, since in a briefing Ed. Sec. Arne Duncan intimated prioritizing rewards for teachers and principals, according to this Politico story. Here's Weingarten's response: "We've seen some good examples ...


Overall education spending will go up. But it might not be going to the teacher programs, and the one you depend on may be going buh-bye.


Exciting news in teacher preparation this week. First, Arizona State University has announced that it will work with Teach For America to inform its own teacher-preparation program. A press release from ASU says that it will adopt the national alternative-route program's tools, including its recruitment and core-member-support mechanisms, to create "an improved national model" for teacher preparation and increase the number of effective teachers it produces. As I wrote in this story and as Amanda Ripley wrote in The Atlantic Monthly, TFA has spent years trying to refine its recruitment and teacher-support systems and has gathered quite a bit of ...


A few people have written in urging me to write a bit about the situation in Houston over the district's new criterion for dismissing teachers. The gist of it is that Houston Superintendent Terry Grier referenced Randi's Big Speech to support a policy that would allow the dismissal of teachers with low value-added scores. (It is now one of 34 factors that could be used to dismiss teachers.) Weingarten responded with a letter accusing Grier of misrepresenting her words. Eduwonk and others called Weingarten's bluff. And on the other side of things, Diane Ravitch lept to Randi's defense. There are ...


The Philadelphia teacher contract was approved. This Philadelphia Inquirer story covers the bread-and-butter issues. Of course, I'm more interested in what reform proposals are on the table. I don't have a full copy of the contract yet, but here are some details the district decided to highlight: • 90% of teacher vacancies will be hired through site-based hiring rather than seniority. • In schools that are chronically underperforming, deemed "Renaissance Schools," the district can implement longer school days, a longer school year that would include Saturdays and summer school, and site-based hiring. • There will be a new school-based performance-pay program to...


Just this morning, negotiators in Philadelphia reached agreement on the form of a new collective bargaining pact. The details aren't public yet as the agreement will go to the rank-and-file of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers for ratification on Thursday. But bank on some changes on the teacher-quality front, especially for compensation and evaluation. Superintendent Arlene Ackerman has clearly put teacher-quality issues at the top of her agenda, and some independent pressure groups have been focusing on the state of teacher evaluations there. It's possible that we'll also see some of AFT pres Randi Weingarten's "signature touches" in the contract. (See...


Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue has announced plans to support legislation that would overhaul the statewide teacher-salary schedule and allow teachers to opt into one that determines pay partly on performance-based measures. States have tried to do statewide performance-pay before, but this example stands out because it sounds as though it would fundamentally restructure how the salary schedule operates. Teachers opting in would no longer get supplements for advanced degrees, which have only weak correlations to student performance. Instead, they would win additional compensation based on observations of teachers and growth of student performance to determine teacher effectiveness and base compensation ...


The Missouri State Teachers Association formally opposes the state's Race to the Top bid, per this press release. Aside from contending that teachers weren't appropriately consulted in the drafting of the plan, the union states forthrightly that it's not willing to support reform efforts that go against its internal policy resolutions, such as using test scores in decisions involving teachers. The Pennsylvania State Education Association, on the other hand, has said it's encouraging locals where the plan is a "good fit" to apply. Translation:"> the plan doesn't trump collective bargaining rights. But an FAQ from the state department of education ...


The worst thing about being a blogger is having to feed the beast every day. But the best thing is knowing that there's always space to follow up on a story that deserves more time, attention, or nuance than there is room in the paper. Such is the case today with Randi Weingarten's Big Speech, which is quickly becoming something of an annual tradition for the American Federation of Teachers. • A lot of the coverage in the general press focused on Weingarten's remarks about incorporating test scores into teacher evaluations. Perhaps this is just representative of the difference between writing...


Rhode Island, California and Tennessee are at different points of trying to negotiate their Race to the Top agendas with their teachers' unions.


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