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 ...


The National Governors Association just announced that it has selected six states to participate in a "policy academy" to create new methods for compensating teachers. Such methods could include performance-based pay, but also higher pay for teachers who: take on tough assignments; teach in shortage fields such as math and science; and assume "master" teacher roles. They would include a new type of alternative pay I haven't heard about before: "Retention" pay, a one-time boost for teachers that make it through the challenging early years of their teaching careers. A statement from the NGA says that the academy will pair ...


Here we go again. The Washington Teachers' Union/American Federation of Teachers is, apparently, running another poll about the contract D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee proposed last summer, and about the AFT's counterproposal. And, just as it was last summer, the union is being accused of push-polling. Without seeing the poll questions, it's hard to comment on this account of the poll. But, I have to say that I'm starting to really feel for the D.C. teachers that are stuck in limbo in the meantime. The clock is ticking......


My extremely talented colleagues are giving Teacher Beat a run for its money! Sean Cavanagh and Debra Viadero have must-read items about teachers up at their respective Ed Week blogs. Over at the brand-new and already very popular Inside School Research, Debbie looks at an updated study of Teach For America teachers with a comparison group. This study's methodology was questioned when it first came out, so its researchers incorporated a bunch of new data and re-ran the analysis. I won't spoil the results, but I will say that it's good news for TFA. Over at Curriculum Matters, Sean Cavanagh ...


From guest blogger Liana Heitin The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future just released a study indicating that half of our nation’s teachers could retire in the next 10 years and calling for districts to restructure their hiring practices. Check out the article I wrote about it for teachermagazine.org here. Predictions about en masse retirements come up every so often, and I tend to be wary when they are apocalyptic in scope. (NCTAF head Tom Carroll even warns of a “retirement tsunami.”) As Sam Dillon notes in The New York Times, the Department of Education made ...


The Washington Post has this story up about the new teacher-evaluation system that D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee and her team are devising. The story does a good job talking about the benefits and perils of a "value added" system that uses test-score growth to estimate teacher effectiveness, a model I've written about before. But it doesn't elaborate on one of the most interesting pieces Rhee has proposed: to use a system of "impartial master teachers" to observe and evaluate teachers' practices, rather than a principal. At a recent Washington event, Rhee gave a few more details about how this ...


Elizabeth Green over at Gotham Schools has a great item about a Queens charter school whose leaders say its union didn't give it the heads-up that charter schools are likely to have their funding cut in the state budget. Here's her kicker: "Most charter schools in New York City are not represented by teachers unions. ... But the union has fought to bring charter schools teachers into its fold. Their slow but steady inclusion has put the union in the tricky position of on the one hand lobbying for limits on charter schools, while, on the other hand, representing some charter ...


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