Wow! There's no reason to watch "Lost" when you've got the D.C. contract situation, which is quickly becoming as byzantine and bizarre as the popular TV program. DCPS officials have detailed Washington Teachers' Union Vice President Saunders back to his school over some kind of paperwork snafus with the leave of absence union officials take when they work full time for the union. The rumors are flying fast and furious about who's to blame, with Saunders and others claiming that WTU President George Parker and D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee are both behind the transfer. Though you wouldn't know ...


Arne Duncan weighs in on unions and charter schools. From his speech at the Education Writers Association: "Twenty-six states cap the number of charters and 10 other states have no charters. The President has called on every state to lift charter caps. And where unions are behind these efforts to impede charters we should certainly call them out but we shouldn’t demonize unions or blame them for all of the problems in education."...


Brad Jupp, the senior academic adviser for the Denver Public Schools, will be heading to the department to serve as an adviser to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, according to this news story. In 2004, Jupp helped broker the ProComp differentiated-pay system in Denver while an employee of the local teachers' union, and he continued to help oversee the program when he moved to DPS. He'll be on loan from Denver during this time, the story says, and will be advising Duncan on teacher quality and teacher-effectiveness issues. I think this is a pretty good sign that the Obama administration is ...


The private-foundation contributions, in addition to the AFT's down payment of $1 million, bring the fund's total to $2.8 million. Funds are available for local affiliates to "incubate promising ideas to improve schools," AFT President Randi Weingarten said.


If you were a confident, highly effective educator, would you agree to take on a class size of 25 rather than 20, if you got a significant pay boost? How about 30 students? 35? That's basically the idea behind a new white paper released by the Phoenix, Ariz.-based Goldwater Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank. (The paper doesn't appear to be on the Web site just yet, but it should be soon.) Some of the ideas it raises you've probably heard before: Using "value-added" test-score growth as the basis of a merit-based pay system for teachers, with both schoolwide and ...


My colleague Sean Cavanagh has a great item up on Obama's speech at the National Academy of Sciences. Here's Obama on the idea of attracting science professionals into the classroom: “Let's create new pathways for experienced professionals to go into the classroom,” the president said. “There are, right now, chemists who could teach chemistry, physicists who could teach physics, statisticians who could teach mathematics. But we need to create a way to bring the expertise and the enthusiasm of these folks–-folks like you–into the classroom.” He could be referring to "career-changers" who decide to enter teaching full time. ...


From Guest Blogger Liana Heitin In outlining how schools should use stimulus aid, during a speech at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls on Friday, Secretary of Education Duncan emphasized extra pay for teachers who help with staff development and an extension of school time. "You can identify your best teachers and pay them to coach their colleagues who are having trouble," said Duncan, according to the Associated Press. But while standout teachers will organically emerge in any school, identifying and labeling “the best” becomes thorny when money is involved, as the never-ending debate over performance pay has ...


The Oklahoma legislature just OK'd (sorry, I couldn't resist) the certification of teachers through the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence, a national alternative-route program. Nine states now support the credential, which is granted after candidates pass content-area and pedagogy tests. (The candidates get help and coaching from a pool of experienced teachers prior to taking the tests.) The states are Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Utah. The bill, in fact, passed the Oklahoma House unanimously, 99-0. I'm told that's the first time legislation to approve the program has ever passed without some ...


The Los Angeles Daily News has this story up about the school board's efforts to take a look at tenure, evaluation, and seniority-based bumping. Although these endeavors aren't expected to go anywhere, merely the fact that they have come this far seems to indicate a restlessness with how the current system works. The story says that parents have voiced concerns about the tendency of seniority-based layoffs to target young and probationary teachers. But at least one parent agreed that teachers had a legitimate concern about the changes. "Many parents feel the seniority should be revised but teachers need protection against ...


Remember that big hullabaloo in New York City last year when chancellor Joel I. Klein wanted to tie teacher-tenure decisions to student test-score growth? The union successfully lobbied the state legislature to prohibit the policy for two years while a study could be done on this data and its appropriateness for being included in these types of decisions. Well, as it turns out, lawmakers aren't even going to give the issue serious examination now, according to this AP story. I have requests for comments out to the New York City Department of Education and to the United Federation of Teachers. ...


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