The nose-diving economy has brought out the creative side of lawmakers trying to solve long-running problems in schools, like teacher retention. In Utah, where a study found that more than half the teachers who left their jobs in 2006-07 have taught for less than five years, a lawmaker is sponsoring a bill that would make home-buying more affordable for new teachers, thereby giving them an incentive to stay on. Teachers in their first five years on the job would get $15,000 loans to buy homes. They would pay interest on the loans, but the $15,000 principal would be ...


A merger between the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers? Now that's one we haven't heard in almost a decade, since efforts to bring the two teachers' unions under a single umbrella were quashed by the NEA's Representative Assembly. But this week, after the presidents of 12 labor unions issued a joint call for unification when President-elect Barack Obama's transition office said that it would prefer dealing with a united labor movement, there's been some speculation over whether this might also translate into a teachers' union merger. The New York Times had this quote from Randi Weingarten, ...


NCLB turned 7 yesterday. Teachers, for the most part, dislike the law for what they see as an overemphasis on standardized testing, the pushing of blame for school failure on teachers, and the punishment of schools with sanctions. Underneath all that, teachers felt frustrated at not having been consulted during the law's creation in 2001, when the unions were largely left out of the negotiations. There's certainly a theme of teacher consultation and collaboration in the American Federation of Teachers' press release on the law's 7th anniversary: "For the past seven years, NCLB has become a stand-in for real discussions ...


The last few months have seen a barrage of announcements on education budget cuts in states and school districts teetering under the recession. Now comes news that the nation's second-largest school district, Los Angeles, could be laying off as many as 2,300 teachers. According to the Los Angeles Times, the state deficit has created a shortfall of at least $250 million in the school district's nearly $6 billion budget, prompting officials to propose sending layoff notices to 1,690 elementary school teachers and 600 math and English teachers in middle and high schools. Teachers most likely to lose their ...


Hopefully by now you've checked out Much Ado About Professional Development per this Bill Turque story in the Washington Post. It must be said: The intrepid bloggers here at Teacher Beat reported Ms. Rhee's plans for PD quite some time ago. Still, I'm glad to see that PD, generally considered a wonky and mushy topic, is getting some real attention for a change. (Although maybe this story in part reflects the current vogue for all things Rhee--everything from her clothes to her dating life has been generating attention.) The central debate in the Post story centers on the fact that ...


If you haven't taken a look at Kevin Carey's recent musings on Finland's highly praised K-12 education system over at The Quick and the Ed, do so now: they're well worth reading and timely for those of you interested in teacher policy. Why? Well, President-elect Obama, key adviser Linda-Darling Hammond, Arne Duncan and others have talked about improving assessment, offering more flexibility in assessment, etc. Though it's not entirely clear what that means policywise, Darling-Hammond for one is a fan of locally based, frequently non-standardized assessments that give richer information on student achievement. She often notes that Finland uses these ...


Hawaii wants to randomly test any of its teachers for drugs under a contract signed with the state teachers' union two years ago, but the union now says it will not play along. The Hawaii State Teachers Association says the wording in the contract, which says the parties "agree to negotiate reasonable suspicion and random drug and alcohol testing procedures," is meant to apply only to teachers who go on field trips, work with disabled children, are frequently absent or have criminal records. The Associated Press quoted Mike McCartney, executive director for the Hawaii State Teachers Association, saying "this is ...


The National Education Association has released its annual statistics on teacher salaries, and, as usual, the nation's largest teachers' union paints a grim picture. According to the report, inflation continued to outpace teacher salaries last year, and over the decade from 1997–98 to 2007–08, average salaries for public school teachers declined 1 percent while inflation increased 31.4 percent. Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia saw real declines in average teacher salaries over those years, adjusting for inflation. The report says the average one-year increase in salaries for public school teachers was 3.1 percent, while inflation ...


There's at least one district where some teachers are getting more money instead of having to worry about losing their jobs or pay. Austin this week handed out $1 million in cash bonuses to teachers under its pilot performance-pay program for teachers whose students did better on state tests. Teachers at six schools will get $4,000 extra each in their paychecks. But, as this story points out, of the six schools where staff will get bonuses, all but two had shown similar improvement in previous years. Which, of course, begs the question: did they really even need a performance-pay ...


President-elect Barack Obama's choice of Arne Duncan to lead the U.S. Department of Education is drawing lots of praise from just about everyone in education circles, and the teachers' unions are not to be left behind. Although Linda Darling-Hammond had appeared to be the unions' top choice for the job, the two national unions today were quick to celebrate the presumptive new education secretary. Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, praised Duncan for collaborating with the teachers' union in his home turf, Chicago, and with other community partners "on various reform programs to help students ...


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