Democrats have often been criticized for being in cahoots with the teacher unions on education policy, and each time Sen. Barack Obama voices support for charter schools or merit pay-- ideas that the national teacher unions aren't terribly fond of-- there's a lot of back-and-forth on how he's breaking away from the unions. Today, in his speech at a school in Dayton, Ohio, the Democratic presidential candidate-- who has received the endorsement of both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers -- called for more charter schools, merit pay, and for replacing bad teachers. "We must give ...


Sen. John McCain's swipe against Barack Obama and teacher unions at the Republican National Convention Thursday has provoked a suitably angry response from the National Education Association and its new president. In his speech, about which you can read more on our Campaign K-12 blog, McCain said Obama, his Democrat rival, "wants our schools to answer to unions and entrenched bureaucrats. I want schools to answer to parents and students." Dennis Van Roekel, the president of the 3.2 million-member NEA, which had 40 delegates at the convention, in a statement Friday called McCain "completely out of touch" with the ...


The beginning of the school year is also the time when teacher disgruntlement rears its head. Although there have not been any strikes in large urban districts in recent memory, and a couple of threats this year fizzled out, there are plenty of teachers out there walking the picket lines right now. In Broward County this week, teachers threatened to work less to protest stalled negotiations on their contract. ''There will be no volunteering, no field trips, no taking papers home,'' Broward Teachers Union President Pat Santeramo told the Miami Herald. Strikes are illegal under Florida law, so an ...


In recent years, some voices like the New Teacher Project have called for changing how teachers are hired by school districts, and have even worked with some districts to revamp their hiring practices and to improve teacher retention. Now, a new report from the Annenberg Institute of School Reform at Brown University is touting another approach: it says districts ought to consolidate all teacher-related functions, like recruitment, evaluation, professional development, staffing, and even collective bargaining, under a single "human- capital management" office. The hope is that this would ensure better coordination of the teacher-related functions and transform the way districts ...


The NEA has been a rather busy bee at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul even as the AFT, not surprisingly, has chosen to stay far, far away. Dennis Van Roekel, the spanking-new president of the NEA, was at a Minneapolis jazz club yesterday where several unions led by the NEA were hosting a labor salute to Republican supporters. He spoke with my colleague Mark Walsh, who is covering the Republican convention in the Minnesota capital. Mark writes that 40 NEA members are among the delegates: a fairly sizeable number given that the unions are always perceived as being ...


Here's the latest on the D.C. contract news: Chancellor Michelle Rhee has said that she has a "Plan B" for instituting reforms to Washington's teacher-quality system if the tentative contract she's working on with the Washington Teachers' Union falls through (see previous posts and my story here for background.) She wouldn't elaborate on what Plan B entails. But here's one possibility: the district has quietly been laying the foundation for changes to its licensing system. According to a document from the office of the State Superintendent of Education, the district wants to institute a system that provides schools with ...


As urban and suburban school districts experience annual recruitment pangs, the numbers of overseas teachers recruited to teach hard-to-fill subjects is on the rise. Attracted by better pay than they get back home, more Filipino teachers than ever before are flocking into the United States, according to this article from the Philippine Daily Inquirer.This week, 93 teachers who will teach math, science and special education landed in Washington en route to Prince George’s County in Maryland. They followed a batch of 115 teachers that arrived in July to teach in the county. Other districts also have offered jobs ...


"Obama and the NEA: If elected, will he be willing to part ways with the union?" Or that's what the Rocky Mountain News wants to know. And here at Teacher Beat, we think it is a question worth examining. It is true that so far Obama has expressed support for merit pay, which the NEA is famous for not liking. But does anyone even know what Obama means when he talks about supporting performance pay? So far, at the convention in Denver, we've heard many other Democratic voices endorse it without actually going into any specifics, and many others have ...


In Denver, it's been all about performance pay for the last few days. First the school district and the teachers' union settled a long-running dispute over changes to the teacher merit-pay plan, and now the Democrats at their national convention are all set to embrace performance pay as a party-platform issue. For the teachers' unions, which are out in full strength at the convention, this has not been a blessing, exactly. In fact, they have been looking like everyone's favorite punching bag. The unions have long disliked any deviation from teacher tenure and seniority, and the National Education Association has ...


If money is any measure, the teachers' unions certainly have a thing for Hillary Clinton. According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, the 3.2-million-member National Education Association may have endorsed Barack Obama for president, but Clinton got just a little more of their money: $23,000 compared with the $22,000 received by Obama. And the American Federation of Teachers, which first endorsed Clinton for president, gave her a whopping $32,000 compared with just around $11,000 for Obama, whom they later endorsed. The NEA made it into the top 10 "heavy-hitters" list of political givers ...


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