From Guest Blogger Liana Heitin After instituting an out-system hiring freeze, forcing principals to hire from within the Absent Teacher Reserve pool, New York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein may now be disclosing that he’s less than optimistic about the candidates available for hire. I recently heard whisperings that the Department of Education has begun the process of assigning ATRs to school placements, where they will be put on rosters as permanent substitutes. Why isn’t the DOE waiting until the end of the summer to see if these teachers find jobs? Since the ATRs are not assuming ...


Here's a fascinating story out of Pennsylvania about a cyber-school whose teachers will be represented by the Pennsylvania State Education Association, a National Education Association affiliate. (The school also happens to be a charter school.) The contract that comes out of all this could be instructive. Will it set an evaluation procedure for teachers that work totally online? What will professional development for these teachers consist of? Will there be a salary structure and due-process for dismissals?...


Cleveland has devised an interesting idea for the stimulus funds with its teachers' union and, apparently, the blessing of Randi Weingarten, who heads up the parent union, the American Federation of Teachers. The district will avoid about 100 layoffs by paying veteran teachers' salaries for two years while they serve as substitute teachers and coaches. They must agree to retire after that to avoid the stimulus "cliff" once the two-year funding runs out. Weingarten approves, the story says, because it's a way of tapping into the expertise of those veterans before they retire. And surely it's better for students, and ...


I'm told there was a bit of pushback on the concept of "comparability" in Title I schools at a recent New America Foundation event. In short, Title I funds are supposed to provide additional services for disadvantaged students, so districts must ensure "comparability" of resources between their schools with low and high concentrations of poverty before the dollars flow. But the Elementary and Secondary Education Act basically lets districts exempt teachers' salaries from this calculation. And since seniority provisions allow higher-paid, more experienced teachers to transfer to wealthier schools, there can literally be a difference of tens of thousands of ...


This story seems to be generating a bit of pushback from a bunch of different sides. Some were confused by the overall thrust of the layoffs. To clarify: yes, the district appears to be prioritizing non-career (nontenured teachers), but since TFA teachers generally have fewer than four years, the amount of time it takes to become tenured in Charlotte, there are some three- to four-year teachers who most likely will be let go ahead of the TFAers. A couple of commentators wanted more details on the cost, number, and breakdown of teachers who will be laid off. I wish I ...


From Guest Blogger Liana Heitin Today marks the two-year anniversary of Michelle A. Rhee’s appointment as chancellor of the D.C. public schools by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty. Take a look back at Alexander Russo’s blog post from this day in 2007. At the time she stepped into the position, Rhee was characterized as an “outsider” because she was entering from the nonprofit sector (also because she was young, female, Korean American, and TFA-bred, but the nonprofit angle was easier to explain away). Today, many would say the characterization still rings true, but for a different reason: Rhee ...


Alyson Klein reports that Rep. Tom Petri of Wisconsin is one of the top candidates in the running as the ranking Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee now that Howard "Buck" McKeon is headed over to the Armed Services Committee. It's an important pick, because whoever gets the nod will ultimately be one of the key negotiators on the next version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Here's one interesting factoid about Petri: He's been the leading House member pushing for congressional authorization of the Teacher Incentive Fund, the performance-pay program that the Obama administration wants to ...


From Guest Blogger Liana Heitin Less than two months after Arizona school districts issued 7,000 pinks slips, in compliance with state regulations to notify employees whose contracts were not being renewed, some teachers are reclaiming their jobs. Though the state budget has not yet been passed, school officials say the budget shortfall will likely be $2.5 million less than expected and that retirements and resignations have opened up positions. The superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne, however, interprets the recalls differently: He claims that districts overestimated the budget deficit as a political move to prevent legislators from making ...


Not long ago, I did a story pointing out that some states have passed laws that basically prohibit the linking of student- and teacher-data systems. New York and California are the high-profile examples. Presumably, these data could inform a variety of different initiatives, both low- and high-stakes: performance-based pay, teacher evaluations, tenure decisions, professional development, and the determination of which teacher colleges produce the strongest graduates. Now, it looks as though dismantling these firewalls might be a prerequisite for qualifying for "Race to the Top" discretionary funds, reports my colleague Michele McNeil over at Campaign K-12. Education Secretary Arne Duncan ...


The New Teacher Project had a really interesting study out not long ago on teacher evaluation that found that pretty much all teachers get high ratings on local evaluation instruments. This is something of a portent for things to come, since one of the stimulus assurances will probably deal with this piece of data. See my write-up of the TNTP study for additional details and some feedback from teachers, union officials, and so forth. One interesting element in the report that I didn't include in my story has to do with where these records are kept. Of the 12 districts ...


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