According to this story, Georgia is granting waivers to districts that don't have the money to hire extra teachers to meet its caps of 20 students in kindergarten, 21 in grades 1-3, and 28 in grades 4-8. This means that schools no longer have to hire additional educators if they exceed the caps by just a few students. As I reported earlier this year, Florida, even before the economic crisis reached its current proportions, suspended the final stage of its mandatory class-size reduction program. California districts were also expected to forgo voluntary class-size subsidies. I'm told most districts try to ...


A federal judge has ruled that New York City can prevent teachers from wearing political buttons in schools. The city's powerful teachers' union had filed a lawsuit Oct. 10 claiming that teachers' free speech rights were being violated when the school system asked principals to enforce a district policy banning them from wearing such buttons. Read our previous blog post here. There was a partial victory for the union, however. Judge Lewis Kaplan said teachers may post political content on their union bulletin boards in areas that are closed to students, and that materials about candidates may be put in ...


There were some heartbreaking scenes in Dallas yesterday when 375 teachers were called out of their classrooms and handed pink slips as the cash-strapped district carried through a massive layoff designed to cut costs. Read the news story about the layoff and the personal account of a teacher who lost her job in the Dallas Morning News here and here. Superintendent Michael Hinojosa called it "a day of tremendous sadness" for the school system. Dallas previously fired hundreds of district employees, all part of a plan to avoid a projected $84 million budget shortfall....


Supporters of Chancellor Michelle Rhee's two-tiered pay system are planning a demonstration at the union's headquarters on Oct. 22. They plan to press Washington Teachers Union President George Parker to bring the contract to a vote. And over at D.C. Teacher Chic, there's a link to a petition to the same end. In the past, Parker has said he can't submit the proposal until a tentative contract has been hammered out. Right now, the D.C. contract negotations are at a stalemate. As Ms. Rhee skyrockets to national attention, the contract is increasingly being viewed as a litmus test ...


Over at NCLB: Act II, my colleague David Hoff makes a great point about the new Century Foundation volume on reforming NCLB. With all the focus on accountability, there's not much discussion of the law's teacher-quality provisions, he writes. And they are important: NCLB was the first version of ESEA to set a minimum teacher-qualification standard for poor schools. Here's a list of what will likely be the big teacher issues to be hammered out in the NCLB reauthorization. 1. The "Highly Qualified" Designation: Most teachers are now highly qualified. However, there was a brief controversy in 2006 when the ...


So John McCain wants to cut back on teacher-certification standards. And then he wants to weed out the bad teachers. Here's his quote from last night's debate: "We need to encourage programs such as Teach For America and Troops to Teachers where people, after having served in the military, can go right to teaching and not have to take these examinations which — or have the certification that some are required in some states." At another point he said, "We need to find bad teachers another line of work." So what he's saying is that we admit anyone without checks and...


I went to a roundtable discussion last week on performance-pay programs hosted by Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. In attendance were representatives from a variety of programs, including several of the Teacher Incentive Fund grants. The attendees brought up a number of interesting challenges they face as they implement their programs. I've listed several of the key themes below. 1. Transitions. Mark Bounds, the teacher-quality leader for South Carolina, noted that a new pay structure can be hard to swallow for teachers who have put in 20 or 30 years under an old system. The systems must allow for some ...


An Associated Press story this week said the Tucson school district has launched a $550,000 effort to recruit more minority teachers with the hope of diversifying its staff and giving minority students a better chance of seeing themselves as part of the education system. Not surprisingly, the move is spurred by the fact that the district sees a disconnect between the numbers of teachers belonging to racial and ethnic minority groups and students from these groups. Districts have for decades worried about the difficulties of attracting minority teachers, and some have launched aggressive efforts to do so. Many observers ...


A teachers' association that calls itself nonpartisan says it is organizing thousands of teachers to march to the nation's capital this Saturday to protest "teacher abuse" by administrators. Myra Sawyers, who heads the Virginia-based Educators for Progressive Instructional Change, says that teachers are tired of being "not respected and the poor compensation." With the elections around the corner, this appeared to be a good time to draw attention to the topic, she said. "Teachers are being harassed, demeaned, and they are never given serious attention because the powers-that-be shut them down," she said. Now while none of those sound like ...


It seemed inevitable that these tough economic times would eventually affect teachers in cash-strapped school districts. Now comes news that the Dallas school district, facing an $84 million shortfall this fiscal year, has decided to lay off nearly 1,100 employees, including about 550 teachers. More than 400 of the lost jobs, according to the Associated Press, include teachers in the core-subject areas of mathematics, science, social studies, and English. An additional 500 employees—such as teacher aides, hall monitors, and clerks—will also be cut. Superintendent Michael Hinojosa has promised a "deliberate and thoughtful" process in determining which teachers ...


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