The New York Times reports on the United Federation of Teachers, which is proposing to limit the number of positions on the Panel for Education, the 13-member body that approves standards, policies, objectives, and regulations for the 1 million-student school system. This panel, the story says, is viewed as a "rubber stamp" for N.Y.C. Mayor Bloomberg, so reducing the number of appointees would likely curtail (or at least delay) his ability to set policy. The move is also a precursor to the debate that will take place in Albany as lawmakers review the 2002 law that charged Bloomberg ...


The national teachers' unions weren't altogether thrilled by all the attention paid to teacher effectiveness in two reports released last week (see here and here for details). National Education Association Dennis Van Roekel, for instance, argued that the reports would have overemphasized standardized test scores. "What a teacher does with her students, how she relates to them, and how she translates her subject knowledge into effective teaching practice are all the central measures of quality teaching," he argued. AFT was equally unhappy with the reports, but the union's releases heavily promoted the "peer assistance and review" model of teacher evaluation ...


Professional development is one of the most difficult teacher issues to write about well. It sits right at the nexus of policy and practice, the research on PD is spotty, the common delivery methods ("spray 'n pray" workshops) are positively archaic, and the really good examples are so classroom-based that it's hard to talk about them in broad strokes. So I'm excited about a report coming out next week. It's expected to synthesize much of the research on staff development, draw from other countries that have had success developing teachers, and situate the U.S.'s current efforts in the ...


New York City appears poised to enter the melee over teacher layoffs that's shaking its sister mega-tropolis Los Angeles right now: N.Y.C. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has submitted a budget proposal calling for cuts of more than 15,000 teachers out of about 77,000. Not surprisingly, the United Federation of Teachers is preparing to fight tooth and nail to prevent that from happening. This afternoon, it's holding a demonstration in downtown Manhattan to protest the cuts. Yesterday, L.A. teachers did much the same thing, marching from the district headquarters to Pershing Square in downtown L.A. All ...


There's a lot of important teacher activity in Los Angeles these days. Don't miss this story about the local teachers' union threatening to boycott the district's use of "interim," or periodic assessments. But both The Los Angeles Times and the district attribute an increase in student achievement to the tests. There are lot of issues to tease out here, and without knowing more about how these assessments operate, it's hard to comment on them. On the one hand, I can understand how frustrating it must be for teachers to give these tests if they're not well timed to what's being ...


This morning, the Center for American Progress' Robin Chait releases a paper detailing the organization's vision for moving the federal teacher-quality agenda forward. Check it out here. Her basic idea is to use federal policy to help states create a teacher-effectiveness "framework." This would work by 1) providing funds to help states improve their data and testing infrastructure; 2) establishing state grants to increase the supply of teachers through enhanced alternative-certification programs; and 3) creating a new competitive district and state grant program, somewhat like the Teacher Incentive Fund, for states and districts to experiment with tenure reforms, differential pay ...


Alyson Klein reports on the Senate markup of the economic-stimulus bill here. Like the House version, the bill would add $100 million for Teacher Quality Enhancement grants, which go mainly to partnerships between districts and teacher colleges. But the bill does not put a dime toward the Teacher Incentive Fund, the federal performance-pay program, whereas the House put forward a preliminary $200 million figure. The House's bill hits the floor tomorrow. It looks as though Teacher Beat may have been wrong when we predicted that the Democrats are going to carry the torch forward on performance pay. Instead, expect a ...


The edu-policy community spends a lot of time discussing the relative merits of different routes into the teaching profession. This story from The Los Angeles Times raises what to me seems like an important and understudied question: How do alternative routes like Teach For America and the New Teacher Project affect the composition, culture, and norms of a school's workforce, especially when that workforce is made up traditionally trained veterans? The story paints a somewhat disturbing picture of Compton's (Calif.) experience negotiating this divide, including a fair amount of vitriol between supporters of the various routes both at school sites ...


The Gates Foundation has a must-read letter up for teacher-policy folks. Check it out. My colleague Erik Robelen has reported on the basic contours of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's new approach to education reform here and here. But there are some really interesting tidbits to cull out from this letter. For one, it's clear that Gates is going to go whole hog on the teacher-quality issue, particularly on the teacher-effectiveness front. In the letter, Gates writes: "Whenever I talk to teachers, it is clear that they want to be great, but they need better tools so they can measure ...


According to this story in The Los Angeles Times, the district has decided to keep all its teachers on the payroll for the time being. Earlier this month, it looked like up to 2,300 teachers could lose their jobs mid-year. But $500 to $600 million will continue to need to be cut from next year's budget, which means jobs are still going to be on the line. Officials are hoping that 2,000 early retirements will naturally help lower the number of teachers in jeopardy of the pink slip. The story explores a couple of interesting scenarios that suggest ...


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