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 ...


Yesterday's testy education debate between Barack Obama's education adviser, Linda Darling-Hammond, and John McCain's education aide, Lisa Graham Keegan, got even testier when subjects like teacher performance pay and alternative-preparation routes like Teach For America cropped up. (To watch the whole debate at Teachers' College, register here). On performance pay, the fight came down to which one is better: a career-ladder and peer-evaluation approach that Darling-Hammond touted, or a let's-pay-teachers-who-raise-student-scores approach that Keegan held up. Calling performance pay a "key part" of McCain's education program, Keegan described a plan in which school principals should be the people in charge of ...


Over at Swift & Change Able, Charlie Barone takes on California's focus (or lack thereof ) on teacher-quality initiatives, drawing on the Center on Education Policy's reports on school restructuring and the Renee v.Spellings lawsuit on the "highly qualified" teacher definition. The state has long tussled with federal legislators on teacher quality. Its 1996 class-size program caused big hiring problems for poorer districts, reportedly angering Congressman George Miller, D-Calif., who chairs the House Education and Labor Committee. The state's initial definition of highly qualified was deemed inappropriate by the Education Department. More recently, California districts have been accused of taking underqualified ...


Randi Weingarten has taken issue with my saying in an earlier blog post that the New York City performance-pay plan had been "forced down the throat" of the United Federation of Teachers. In a phone conversation this week, Weingarten emphasized that she was the one who took the initiative to the table. "I negotiated the plan and I believe that the plan actually helped us prove to the school system that collaboration is a key ingredient to school success," said Weingarten, who, as my earlier blog post pointed out, has always spoken very positively about the plan in public. As ...


Portfoliogate has just come up as a big issue in the campaign (see Mike Petrilli here and my colleague Michele McNeil here). It's great to see such a wonky topic outside the field attracting attention. Of course, I want to hear more discussion about the teacher implications. And it seems that like so much else in education, this is a matter of tradeoffs: Portfolio assessments certainly have the potential to give teachers richer information about student achievement than standardized tests alone. But they are also a lot of work for teachers to create and to score. Nebraska, the only state ...


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 ...


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