I checked in with officials at both teachers' unions to get their sense of the Obama back-to-school speech brouhaha. The National Education Association's director of education policy and practice, Kay Brilliant (who surely has the best surname in the field since Margaret Spellings), said the union supports the thrust of personal responsibility, persistence, goal-setting, and achievement the president will discuss. "I just find this whole thing amazingly curious," she told me. "I think we're disappointed that [the controversy] has taken on a political tone. We think this is an important issue, and as far as we can tell, it's a ...

There are some things that just make you go "huh?" According to this AP story, a whole bunch of teachers in Philadelphia are quitting or planning not to show up for their first week of school. More than 110 resigned this week; others have put in for long-term sick leave. District Superintendent Arlene Ackerman is not happy, calling the missing-in-action behavior "very unprofessional." Teachers' union President Jerry Jordan said that it's not unusual for teachers to choose among different job offers before school begins. Part of me thinks this must have something to do with Ackerman's intentions to overhaul hiring ...

With all this wrangling over teacher effectiveness and the best ways to measure it, you'd be forgiven for thinking we'd all moved on from old teacher wars (traditional vs. alternative certification, content vs. pedagogy) to the new ones. Well, think again. In Indiana, the state's professional-standards board advanced a plan to overhaul the state's licensing system. The proposal would require teachers to pass a basic-skills test before entering a preparation program and to take more content coursework. It also would allow mid-career professionals to become teachers and administrators by passing tests rather than completing programs. But it's caught a lot ...

Remember those "teacher equity" provisions in No Child Left Behind? If your answer is no, you're probably not alone. The law requires states to put plans into place to ensure that poor and minority students aren't disproportionally taught by out-of-field, unqualified, or inexperienced teachers. The states all submitted the required plans in 2006. But there's been precious little news about their implementation since then. In the economic-stimulus legislation, Congress took another whack at the issue by requiring states receiving recovery dollars to comply with the teacher-equity provisions. Now, nine lawmakers on the Congressional Black Caucus are taking EdSec Arne Duncan ...

A potpourri of teacher coverage today from EdWeek.

Education Next has a fascinating new survey on the "Obama effect" (full coverage from Education Week here). About 43 percent of Americans said they supported basing part of a teacher's salary on his or her students' progress on state tests. But, when told about Obama's support for the systems, 13 percent more of the public favor the idea. Increases also appeared among these key groups: • Support increased among African-Americans by 23 percentage points (to 55 percent). • Support among Democrats increased by 15 percentage points (to 56 percent). • Among teachers, support rose 19 percentage points (to 31 percent). Teachers ...

The findings, which follow on the heels of similar ones from Year I of the study, indicate that this "high quality" teacher induction has no impact on student achievement or teacher retention.

An association of teacher colleges calls for the Obama administration to judge education programs by different standards as part of the "Race to the Top" guidelines.

Parsing the NEA's comments on Race to the Top.

Here's a fascinating story out of Texas about districts gradually getting choosier in who they will accept as substitute teachers. Some districts, the story notes, now require applicants to hold a teaching credential. In the past, a GED or high school diploma and some relevant experience were the only real criteria. The phenomenon appears to be a direct factor of the market right now: There are just so many more applications for these jobs that the bar has gotten higher. I've come across a similar phenomenon in other districts. It didn't make it into my recent story about the math ...

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