From Guest Blogger Liana Heitin As cellphones become a universal accessory among students, policymaking about their use in schools is quickly transitioning from the district to the state level. According to the Des Moines Register, 16 states now have laws restricting the use of cellphones and other devices in school. Iowa state Rep. Deborah Berry hopes to add her own state to the list of those with legal restrictions, citing concerns that the phones are both a distraction and a safety risk. "I've seen in my district where they're organizing fights" through text messages, she said recently. "It's a serious ...


According to this story Hawaii's licensing board was illegally extending licenses, meaning that nearly 4,000 teachers probably don't meet the federal definition of a highly qualified teacher. Oops. (Officials with the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board, and apparently the attorney general, dispute the charges.) The story suggests the state could lose federal funding for this error, if indeed there is one. I doubt that will happen for a couple of reasons. First, the state's going to need the money to get these teachers properly certified, and second, the U.S. Department of Education, under the Bush administration anyway, usually redistributed ...


Washington Post veteran Jay Mathews dives into the great class-size reduction debate here (check out the thoughtful comments, too.) He points out that in the recession, many districts preserve class size and make cuts elsewhere, which may not be the most cost-effective solution. The long-cited STAR study in Tennessee found lasting benefits from class size reduction, particularly for poor and minority students in grades K-1. The problem, as Mathews alludes, is that most states and districts aren't in a position to reproduce the stipulations in that study: class sizes between 14 and 17 students. So, the argument goes, should you ...


From Guest Blogger Liana Heitin The Center for American Progress held a panel discussion on Friday regarding its paper on how states can improve alternative-certification programs (see Stephen’s post). In addition to Robin Chait and Michele McLaughlin, co-authors of the paper, there were three other ed experts on the panel: Alex Johnston, CEO of a nonprofit advocating for public schools known as ConnCAN; Richelle Patterson, a senior policy analyst for NEA; and Scott Cartland, principal of Webb/Wheatley Elementary School in northeast Washington, D.C. Although most of the panel members were in agreement about the efficacy and necessity ...


I'm on the mailing list for a lot of teachers' union trade papers, which are useful for gauging issues of importance to local affiliates. The New York Teacher, a publication for the United Federation of Teachers, contained a bit of a surprise in the Feb. 19 edition: a new feature, called "Principals In Need of Improvement." "When a principal gravely mismanages a school and makes life impossible for the staff, it tends to happen in the shadows. Many staff members are intimidated and afraid to speak out for fear of reprisals. But for the sake of the staff and of ...


The National Education Association is getting cozier with the AFL-CIO and its rival Change to Win, two umbrella labor coalitions that are themselves thinking of reuniting, according to this AP story. The American Federation of Teachers is a longtime member of AFL-CIO but the NEA has always been a bit aloof about its status as a cross between a professional organization and a labor union. NEA did grew closer to AFL-CIO in 2006, when NEA and AFL-CIO struck an agreement allowing NEA officials to sit on local AFL-CIO labor councils. Now, it looks it's considering joining the larger labor movement. ...


President Obama's budget request for FY 2010 contains a couple of interesting tidbits relating to teachers. The administration says it wants to : --Strengthen and increase transparency around teacher and principal preparation programs; --Implement systems that reward teacher performance, help less-effective teachers improve or, if they don't improve, exit the classroom; --Support community-based education through the creation of Promise Neighborhoods similar to the Harlem Children's Zone, which combined rigorous education standards with wraparound support services for students. There aren't any figures or line items, so we don't yet know if these are new programs or tweaks to existing programs. For example, ...


Today, the Center for American Progress released a paper about how states could work to improve alternative certification programs, and it explores the fundamental tension that such programs face: Ensuring that these programs both fit the needs of people who want to enter teaching (i.e., with flexible hours and a faster pathway to teaching), but also appropriately prepare candidates for success in classrooms. It builds on a 2007 report from the National Council on Teacher Quality, which found that many alternative-certification programs are alternative in name only. Such programs, that report found, have similar coursework loads, don't necessarily provide ...


Philadelphia superintendent Arlene Ackerman recently unveiled her Imagine 2014 initiative. Part of this education-reform plan includes closing and restructuring a number of low-performing schools around instructional models with "proven track records" for success. These schools will be deemed Renaissance Schools. One thing you might not have picked up on from local reports on this, however, is that some of these Renaissance schools will be converted to charters. As such, they'll have more flexibility in hiring staff and will not be subject to the seniority and transfer rules in the district's collective bargaining agreement. The president of the Philadelphia Federation of ...


From Guest Blogger Liana Heitin On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Idaho state law that bans local governments from allowing unions to collect political contributions through payroll deductions. Labor unions contended that the 2003 law violated their free speech rights. Following the 6-3 vote deeming the law constitutional, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that, "Such a decision is reasonable in light of the state’s interest in avoiding the appearance that carrying out the public’s business is tainted by partisan political activity." (See more about the case on Mark Walsh’s School Law Blog). The National ...


Follow This Blog

Advertisement

Most Viewed on Education Week

Categories

Archives

Recent Comments