My colleague Sean Cavanagh has a great item up on Obama's speech at the National Academy of Sciences. Here's Obama on the idea of attracting science professionals into the classroom: “Let's create new pathways for experienced professionals to go into the classroom,” the president said. “There are, right now, chemists who could teach chemistry, physicists who could teach physics, statisticians who could teach mathematics. But we need to create a way to bring the expertise and the enthusiasm of these folks–-folks like you–into the classroom.” He could be referring to "career-changers" who decide to enter teaching full time. ...


From Guest Blogger Liana Heitin In outlining how schools should use stimulus aid, during a speech at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls on Friday, Secretary of Education Duncan emphasized extra pay for teachers who help with staff development and an extension of school time. "You can identify your best teachers and pay them to coach their colleagues who are having trouble," said Duncan, according to the Associated Press. But while standout teachers will organically emerge in any school, identifying and labeling “the best” becomes thorny when money is involved, as the never-ending debate over performance pay has ...


The Oklahoma legislature just OK'd (sorry, I couldn't resist) the certification of teachers through the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence, a national alternative-route program. Nine states now support the credential, which is granted after candidates pass content-area and pedagogy tests. (The candidates get help and coaching from a pool of experienced teachers prior to taking the tests.) The states are Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Utah. The bill, in fact, passed the Oklahoma House unanimously, 99-0. I'm told that's the first time legislation to approve the program has ever passed without some ...


The Los Angeles Daily News has this story up about the school board's efforts to take a look at tenure, evaluation, and seniority-based bumping. Although these endeavors aren't expected to go anywhere, merely the fact that they have come this far seems to indicate a restlessness with how the current system works. The story says that parents have voiced concerns about the tendency of seniority-based layoffs to target young and probationary teachers. But at least one parent agreed that teachers had a legitimate concern about the changes. "Many parents feel the seniority should be revised but teachers need protection against ...


Remember that big hullabaloo in New York City last year when chancellor Joel I. Klein wanted to tie teacher-tenure decisions to student test-score growth? The union successfully lobbied the state legislature to prohibit the policy for two years while a study could be done on this data and its appropriateness for being included in these types of decisions. Well, as it turns out, lawmakers aren't even going to give the issue serious examination now, according to this AP story. I have requests for comments out to the New York City Department of Education and to the United Federation of Teachers. ...


At The Quick and the Ed, Chad Aldeman has an interesting post up about how steep salary schedules affect the ebb and flow of teachers into and out of the profession. I wrote a story not long ago about how most pay systems are "backloaded," with teachers earning degrees for longevity and for earning degrees, neither of which is particularly well correlated to teacher effectiveness. In other words, these systems reward veterans and those teachers who hold advanced degrees, regardless of whether those teachers are the most effective. They also exert pressure on teachers to stay in order to get ...


Just what kind of say will teachers and teachers' unions have on how the various stimulus dollars are spent, especially the $5 billion in competitive grants meant to spearhead new reform efforts? That was one of the main themes at a seminar held yesterday by the Albert Shanker Institute, a think-tank affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers. For many of the union leaders, superintendents, and academics who attended the seminar, this was their first opportunity to hear about the stimulus directly from an Obama administration representative, Marshall "Mike" Smith. A few of the guests wondered aloud if the stimulus ...


Sharon Robinson, the president of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, had some follow-up comments on this post, in which I wrote about how some states "gamed" the teacher-college accountability requirements in the Higher Education Act. Robinson has a different take: "Under the previous law, universities had to report passage of all graduates on state licensing exams, even candidates for licensure that had not completed the program. Under the new law, universities must report scores for those who have completed required course work. This change ... makes the implications of pass-rates more directly related to program quality and accountability. ... ...


From Guest Blogger Liana Heitin A messy (and bizarre) certification case in Texas is fueling the fire for opponents of alternative-pathway programs with flexible requirements. See a previous article about this ongoing debate here. Lisa Ashmore received her bachelor's degree from Louisiana Baptist University—a school that is not accredited by the Texas Education Agency. She was, however, accepted by iteachTexas, an alternative-preparation company, and recommended for state certification after completing her required training courses. In 2003, the TEA approved her teaching certification. TEA recently discovered Ashmore’s unaccredited degree (in what was likely part of an audit of the ...


D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, and Washington Teachers' Union President George Parker just announced that a mediator will help settle differences over the shape of their contract. Kurt Schmoke, Dean of Howard University School of Law and former Baltimore mayor, will work to resolve "outstanding issues" on the table, according to an AFT statement. No word yet as to whether this means that that either the district or the AFT has declared a formal impasse—an event that triggers an arbitration process—or whether this is more of an informal conflict-resolution kind of ...


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