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 ...


If you're a teacher-policy geek like me, you'll want to check out all the teacher-related details in the completed stimulus. My colleague Michele McNeil has the scoop at Politics K-12 (disc: I helped a little). In my view, the most important piece of this is the requirement for states to improve teacher effectiveness. The language is pretty much the first toe the government's really put into that particular (swampy) pond. As with much in this huge bill, whether or not it really means anything is going to depend on Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's following up on it....


The nation's smallest state certainly can't say it has a timid state education leader: Rhode Island Commissioner Peter McWalters is taking on the controversial issue of "bumping" in Providence schools. Providence, like many other districts, operates under a collective bargaining agreement that handles hiring primarily through teacher preference and seniority: More-senior teachers can request transfers to open positions at other schools. After that, the central office slots the remaining teachers to open positions throughout the district. Essentially, McWalters is directing the district to override this agreement. In a letter to Tom Brady, the Providence superintendent, he indicates that the district ...


Last week, I took a long look at seniority-based layoff policies in this story. But we also have an edweek.org poll on the topic, asking readers to vote on whether or not they agree with such methods of reducing the workforce. Right now, it's in a statistical dead heat. Make your voice heard!...


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