The McCain-Obama war has made it into the classroom. Teachers at a California high school will no longer wear "Educators for Obama" buttons after a parent who supports John McCain complained. John Hadley says the teachers at his 16-year-old daughter's school in Soquel, Calif., were attempting to politically influence students. In California, educators can wear political buttons at work except during classroom instruction, unless the matter has a direct bearing on an education issue, such as a proposed school bond or contract matter. But the state also allows districts to set limits on the political activities of teachers during the ...


I recently did a story on two states, Idaho and Georgia, that are moving to standardize their teacher-evaluation processes through the use of performance-based frameworks. These frameworks spell out what good teaching should look like and what types of evidence evaluators should consider in making determinations about teacher performance. One of the subtexts that I didn't get to explore fully in this story concerns whether student- achievement data should be part of these evaluations. It's a tough question that runs parallel to the debate over the place of test scores in performance-pay programs. One of the teacher-evaluation experts I spoke ...


Time was when teachers in California could be dismissed, transferred, or disciplined if their students wrote articles that school administrators did not like. Not anymore. A bill signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger over the weekend would make it tougher for administrators to retaliate against high school and college journalism teachers who protect students' free speech. According to the California Newspaper Publishers Association, teachers have been punished at least 12 times since 2001 because of articles written by student reporters. In one instance, an adviser for a high school newspaper was reassigned after her students wrote a scathing editorial calling for ...


An appeals court ruled earlier this week that three Lowell, Mass., teachers were improperly dismissed from their jobs following a district-administered English fluency test. The three teachers are non-native English speakers. Massachusetts, in 2002, required all public school teachers of subject-matter classes to be fluent and literate in English. The court found that the Lowell school district did not follow state regulations, which specify that teachers' grasp of English should be evaluated through classroom observation and personal interviews. It's an interesting case, and I'm not sure how many other states have similar laws on the books. The "highly qualified" teacher ...


UFT President Randi Weingarten this afternoon proposed her solution to the problem of "excessed" teachers in New York City--an immediate hiring freeze. Excessed teachers are those who have lost their jobs because of their schools closing or downsizing and who have not been able to find new jobs because of a new district policy that allows principals to hire those that are a good fit regardless of seniority. The New Teacher Project released a report earlier this week that said the excessed teachers will cost the city $74 million this school year. The project has urged the district to make ...


A nonprofit group, Teachers in Space, is seeking applications for a program to fly teachers to space in suborbital vehicles and return them to the classroom. The original NASA Teachers in Space program ended with the 1986 Challenger disaster, which killed teacher-astronaut Christa McAuliffe and six other crew members. The program was retooled as the Educator Astronaut program, in which former educators became full-time NASA employees, but did not return to their classrooms. Barbara Morgan was the first Educator Astronaut. She flew aboard the space shuttle in August 2007. The Teachers in Space nonprofit was set up to revive the ...


The Dallas Morning News has a story this morning about the district wanting to use $18 million of Title I money to pay the salaries of 300 teachers. The district, apparently, has a shortfall of $84 million in its budget. But this is not sitting well with the state education department, which says that federal money cannot be spent on making up for local budget cuts. And that, state officials say, is in effect what Dallas plans to do. The imbroglio in Dallas does make one wonder about how states and school districts will cope with budget woes in a ...


Responding to the New Teacher Project's report on excessed teachers in New York who will cost the city $74 million this school year, United Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten has called a press conference at 4 p.m. tomorrow where she will be joined by "several of the hundreds of educators in the Absent Teacher Reserve (ATR) pool who have tried for months to secure permanent teaching positions despite Department of Education policies that hinder their efforts." Stay tuned as we bring you more on this....


The promise of more money has not exactly sent school districts in Minnesota rushing to embrace Gov. Tim Pawlenty's widely touted Q Comp performance-pay plan for teachers. After three years, in 2007-08, only 39 of the state's 334 districts and 21 charter schools had signed up for it. Part of it might have to do with the fact that the plan requires local unions to get on board. And as is well known by now, unions are not the biggest fans of performance pay, although Minneapolis had implemented a popular, union-approved performance-pay plan before Q Comp. Now Pawlenty, a Republican, ...


The Algiers Charter Schools consortium in New Orleans just received a $17.6 million grant from the federal Teacher Incentive Fund, a program designed to seed performance-based compensation programs. Algiers' grant was initially given to the Lakewood County school district, in Florida, but that district faced internal squabbles about implementation and opted out after its first year. Like a number of other TIF grantees, Algiers will use the Teacher Advancement Program model. TAP, which is overseen by the Santa Monica, Calif.-based National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, includes standards-based professional development and a career ladder for teachers, in addition ...


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