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 ...


Andy Rotherham has a thoughtful post on the teacher-evaluation reporting proposal that the Education Department will soon be opening for public comment. Rotherham's worry, and it's a legitimate one, is that this new reporting requirement in and of itself won't have much of an effect: "Federal policymakers have tried that approach on a range of issues from higher education to teacher education to all manner of K-12 issues and it’s had little effect. The states are pretty good at gaming the data ... Besides, is the problem really a lack of information about the problems per se? I don’t ...


Chalk one up for the American Federation of Teachers. Just as things have gotten a bit dicey in AFT's bid to unionize charter schools in New York City, three Chicago charter schools—the Wrightwood, Northtown Academy and Ralph Ellison campuses of the Civitas Schools’ Chicago International Charter Schools—have served notice to state and district officials that they will unionize. Three-quarters of the teaching staff at the campuses signed authorization cards to be represented by the Chicago Alliance of Charters Teachers and Staff, an affiliate of the Illinois chapter of the AFT. The state law allows this "card-check" method of...


From Guest Blogger Liana Heitin For those who know a little about the Teacher Advancement Program but have had trouble discerning the nuances of the initiative (like me), take a look at Stephen’s recent article, which gives the best explanation I have seen. As poignantly noted, when people hear TAP, they often translate “performance pay”—yet the crux of the model is in the word “advancement.” For some teachers, the open-door policy and constant accountability that enforce the culture of advancement are too much to bear, so they leave—or self-select out. Could this be the answer to President ...


From Guest Blogger Liana Heitin In this climate of rampant layoffs, most people are concentrated on finding ways to keep teachers in the classroom. Yet (and it seems hardly controversial to point out) not all teachers should stay. The St. Petersburg Times reports that when budget cuts are not an issue, firing a teacher can be more than a little difficult. Ron Matus of The Times tells the story of Roy Sachse, a tenured P.E. teacher in Florida with a history of inappropriate behavior. In one 18-month period, Sachse reportedly sent a note to a female student asking her ...


The stimulus guidance is up, and it contains what to me seems like a real jaw-dropper on the teacher-quality front. To receive their second cut of state stabilization funds, states will need to show they are capable of reporting the number and percentage of teachers and principals rated at each performance level under each local district's teacher-evaluation system. The federal government has, in the past, been very hands-off of teacher evaluation. I can see this being a real challenge on a number of fronts. First off, I'm not even sure how many districts keep computerized records of the results of ...


There seems to be a lot of interest these days in on-the-job teacher training provided through professional learning communities, or teams of teachers that meet to review student data and samples of student work and compare teaching strategies. Now some districts in Utah are rearranging their school schedules to give teachers paid time to work this way, according to this story. Two of the districts will start Fridays 60 to 90 minutes late, or end school early, to facilitate the common planning time. The story gives some great examples of how this kind of professional development can be utilized. Teachers ...


The Charleston Daily Mail has this interesting story about a bill in the legislature that would allow counties to conduct detailed interviews with teacher candidates before deciding to hire them. Right now, the story says, districts can only check to verify coursework and training. All other decisions are made on the basis of a checklist of teacher evaluations, qualifications, and seniority. The teachers' unions and a member of the Charleston school board both said the proposal would open the door to favoritism and nepotism by county boards of education. The teachers unions have vowed to fight the bill. But one ...


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