Elizabeth Green has the scoop on the latest in the New York KIPP unionization at the Always Mentally Prepared campus in Brooklyn. At least one teacher there has pulled her support for the union. In the meantime, the staff of two other KIPP schools have sent in a petition to sever their contact with the United Federation of Teachers. Commentary from Rotherham here. UFT pres Randi Weingarten sounds a bit flustered in quotes posted on Alexander Russo's blog. She tries to draw a connection between the two events, blaming KIPP management for the move. "What is interesting is this move ...


From Guest Blogger Liana Heitin In an attempt to prevent dispersing more pink slips than necessary (as is the modus operandi in California, among other states), Arizona legislators are considering a bill that would push back the state deadline for sending layoff notices from April 15 to June 15. District officials in favor of House Bill 2630, which is expected to pass in the next few days, see it as a necessary move to avoid driving worried educators out of the state. The Arizona Education Association opposes the bill, stating that it would give laid-off teachers little time to find ...


I recently wrote a story on the staffing situation in Providence, R.I. The state commissioner, Peter McWalters, has directed district officials to override the collective bargaining agreement and to staff open positions through a criterion-based hiring process, rather than teachers' seniority perferences (see here for the story and here for some background). The head of the Providence Teachers Union, Steven Smith, wasn't able to comment at press time, but I got a chance to speak with him earlier this week. Not surprisingly, he's unimpressed by the directive. For instance, it ignores the turnover within the rank of school principals ...


From Guest Blogger Liana Heitin Last week, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board, facing an $87 million budget deficit, approved a plan that would lay off 456 teachers and 83 assistant principals, according to the Charlotte Observer. Heated that administrative contracts are not being slashed first, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Association of Educators responded by organizing a rally and marching to the government offices with signs and banners. Superintendent Peter Gorman has emphasized that the plan is no more than a draft and that he is looking elsewhere to make cuts. Although stimulus money may help, he claims, the state budget looks less than ...


Dan Willingham offers an interesting conceptual analysis on how to improve teacher evaluation here. Essentially, he says that the diagnostic can go both ways, either by over- or under-identifying which teachers aren't performing up to snuff. Finding the appropriate balance is tricky, and the unions need to advance this conversation, he writes, but that's hard for them to do because of their role as teachers' protectors. The inimitable Andy Rotherham's take on it is here. Unions, he writes, "don’t want to use data to evaluate teachers and they don’t want to use managerial discretion. I guess that leaves ...


Last Friday, I had a nice catch-up with Dennis Van Roekel, the leader of the National Education Association. We talked about the NEA's discussions about joining a larger labor coalition with AFL-CIO and Change to Win, two labor umbrella organizations that themselves are thinking of reuniting after a nasty split. "Any discussion of where the labor movement will be in 10 to 15 years, I think NEA ought to be part of that discussion, as a 3.2 million-member organization," Van Roekel told me. He added that a couple of factors make this a good time to consider joining the ...


Here's a sobering story out of Texas with some big education implications. According to the story, the state teacher pension system's unfunded liabilities have tripled over the last six months, to $40.4 billion. Although the system will be able to pay out benefits for current retirees, its future looks grimmer, unless the state can figure out some way to offset the liability. Other states, notably Georgia, are in a similar situation. Lawmakers are considering increasing the percentage that employees have to pay into the system, a move that's sure to be unpopular with the teachers' associations in the state. ...


From Guest Blogger Liana Heitin Today in California, 26,000 school district employees will find pink slips in their boxes. Although the massive dispersal of such notices by the March 15 deadline is somewhat of a yearly charade, with most of them generally being rescinded when the budget is finalized in May, teachers are preparing for the worst this year—and rightly so. Education budget cuts are estimated to land between $8.4 and $11.6 billion (the unions are predicting the higher end of the scale) and even some district officials are admitting that the outlook is bleak. "I ...


U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan just announced the appointment of Jo Anderson Jr., the executive director of the Illinois Education Association, as senior adviser to the department. He'll be in charge of outreach to teachers and teachers' unions. There have been some rumblings about this, so while the appointment isn't exactly a shock, I'm told there was no analogous position under the Bush administration, which had a rocky relationship with the two national teachers' unions. A couple of interesting things here. First, looks like we're going to get a lot of Illinois folks coming to Washington just like ...


From Guest Blogger Liana Heitin Last month, Stephen reported on the NSDC finding that U.S. teachers spend more time in the classroom and less time on collaboration and professional development than their peers in the highest-performing countries. (Many of our readers were right on board with the study’s findings—take a look at some of their insightful comments.) The PD scheduling discussion came up more locally this week when a southeast Wyoming school board, prompted by a parent petition, voted to get rid of its district’s weekly staff training half-days. It’s easy to see how this ...


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