New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein was never in any danger of being named a teachers' pet. But who knew that rumors he could be a potential pick for education secretary would set off furious online petition drives by teachers hoping to ward off the possibility? One petition, created by a blogger from Sacramento who writes about public schools, likens Klein's administration in New York City to a "dictatorship." Klein, the petition says, is "representative of a particular rigid approach to school change promoted by NCLB which we oppose." "Chancellor Klein repeatedly championed and implemented policies that support corporate ...


So much has been said about President-elect Barack Obama's admiration for Michelle Rhee, the chancellor of the District of Columbia schools, and we now hear that Joel Klein, the chancellor of New York City schools, is being considered as a potential pick for the new education secretary. Which makes me wonder: How do the teachers' unions feel about all this love between the president-elect behind whose election they threw all their might, and the two education administrators they have battled most furiously in recent times? The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers worked hard and deployed record ...


The United Teachers of New Orleans still lives. And it's trying to take baby steps toward a comeback. But can it? According to this story in the Times Picayune, the UTNO, which was all but destroyed during the reorganization of New Orleans schools after Hurricane Katrina, has proposed a collective bargaining contract in the five schools that are still under school board control. Very few details of the proposed three-year contract are available, such as that it does not include raises for teachers in the first year, but does include $500 bonuses for national-board- certified teachers. But here's the hitch: ...


The Center on American Progress' new analyst Raegen Miller has an interesting paper out on teacher absences here. Andy Rotherham offers his take on the issue here (read the comments, too). The thrust of the paper is that absences appear to follow patterns, and that the different levels of government (federal, state, and local) can use this information to better craft incentives to address teacher absences. One of the challenges here seems to be that, like many other aspects of teacher-quality policy, teachers' leave policies are set differently by state legislatures and in local contracts. You can read a little ...


The forum on teacher support I attended on Nov. 5 raised some interesting ideas about how to improve teaching quality. In this post I'm going to attempt to make a little bit of sense of them. A comprehensive system for teacher support, the panelists said, starts with a clear definition of high-quality teaching. Supports are built around how to foster it and bolster it, how to determine whether teachers are practicing it, how to offer teachers who are struggling opportunities to ask for and receive help, and ultimately how to build additional professional opportunities for veterans that feed back into ...


I attended a forum on D.C. teacher professional development last night sponsored by this group and I'll be writing a few posts on it this week. But first I wanted to report what I thought was the most interesting observation of the evening, made by none other than American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. Panelists were asked by one member of the audience (on an index card, so I can't say who it was) how D.C. could agree on a system of teacher supports in the place of what the questioner described as the "punitive" system of ...


Ever wondered how teacher performance-pay plans might fare in these tough economic times? Already, we've had lashings of bad news from districts around the country as they cut down on teacher jobs and teacher salaries and revise pension plans. Just today, a report in the Orlando Sentinel said that three months into the school year, most Florida teachers are working for the same salaries they made last year, because of stalled budget negotiations in many districts. Florida has a projected $3.5 billion revenue shortfall for its coming fiscal year, and some expect worse news when economists issue their next ...


Here's an update on the Philadelphia teacher-contract negotiations: The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and the district agreed to extend the current agreement by a year. PFT members will get a 4 percent increase next March. "Both parties have identified a number of areas of common concern that we will be working together to address such as: providing a safe environment in and around schools for students and staff; developing targeted and fiscally responsible approaches to reducing class size; improving teacher quality by recruiting and retaining qualified and effective teachers and improving both evaluation and support of them; insuring that teacher ...


The Institute of Education Sciences has quietly released a study that's almost guaranteed to cause a lot of chatter if not outright controversy in the eduworld. According to the study, the two comprehensive programs studied in their first year—one from the Princeton, N.J.-based ETS and one from the New Teacher Center, in Santa Cruz, Calif.—did not improve student achievement, rates of teacher rentention, or teacher practices. Comprehensive induction programs, unlike the informal, often unfunded "buddy systems" common to districts, provide training for mentors, support "release time" for teachers and mentors to meet on a weekly basis,...


That's a famous line from The Wizard of OZ, and it's basically at the heart of this story in the Washington Post about the D.C. contract negotiations. According to a letter sent by AFT President Randi Weingarten to WTU President George Parker, back in July, Parker had requested that AFT not be involved in the negotiations. But concerns about the then-tight relationship between Parker and D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee, along with complaints from local members about the two-tiered pay proposal has caused the AFT to watch the negotiations quite closely. The national union commissioned a private poll of ...


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