Less than a week before the national spotlight turns on Denver, which is playing host to the Democratic National Convention, school district officials must be praying really hard. Starting tomorrow, for three days, union and district officials will negotiate proposed changes to ProComp, the city's highly lauded performance-pay plan, which both sides had blessed at its creation. For now, that camaraderie is moot as the district and the union fight bitterly over what to change, and to what extent. You can read about those proposed changes in this story and in a chat we recently hosted with teachers' union President ...


Teachers in one Texas district will be able to bring more than school supplies when they return to school this month. They could be packing heat. That's right. Under a new school policy in Harrold County, teachers on the 110-student district's sole campus will be allowed to carry guns to thwart any threats of gun attacks. "When the federal government started making schools gun-free zones, that's when all of these shootings started," Superintendent David Thweatt wrote on the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Web site. Teachers who bring in guns, he added, would have to undertake crisis- management training first. They'd also, ...


There were almost as many journalists as there were teachers at the protest at the Washington Teachers' Union headquarters this morning, which was organized by supporters of the two-tiered pay-reform plan proposed by D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. I'll come back to that in a minute. The crucial sticking point has been that under the plan, teachers electing the green path, in exchange for much higher pay, would revert to probationary status and lose some of their tenure protections. They could, in essence, be easier for prinicipals to dismiss. Washington Teachers Union President George Parker told reporters today that ...


A lot has been said over the years on the need for mentoring new teachers, and whenever I am among educators, I almost always hear at least one young teacher speak up for it. Now, a study of the effects of mentoring on New York teachers, which appears this month in the National Bureau of Economic Research, finds that mentoring can improve retention when the mentor has prior experience in the school. In other words, when the mentor has school-specific knowledge. Jonah E. Rockoff, an assistant professor of economics and finance at Columbia University, looked closely at a mentoring program ...


I could easily have written twice as much about the fascinating Teacher Incentive Fund initiative. The theme of district-teacher collaboration came up again and again in the course of my reporting. If we know that collaboration is key to good plans, there's a follow-up question here that needs exploring and that is: What are the methods for creating this collaboration and sustaining it over time? Though the American Federation of Teachers, in general, remains wary about peformance pay, it isn't backing away from the TIF challenge. The national office counts a full-time employee, Rob Weil, who spends a good amount ...


California's Commission on Teacher Credentialing just announced that there are more than 11,000 out-of-field English-language-learner instructors in the state. That's an increase of 88 800 percent since the commission's last review, when the state reported only 1,450 out-of-field teachers for those students. (UPDATE -- A commenter below pointed out that the percentage increase is much higher than the figure listed in the report. It's probably a good thing that I don't cover math education.) The data cover the years 2003 to 2007; the previous review covered 1999 to 2003. Commission officials, though, said the larger number does not ...


A few weeks back, the two national teacher accreditors, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Teacher Educator Accreditation Council, were asked to work together to come up with a unified accrediting system in the best interests of the teaching profession. The first thing they agreed on, it appears, was to drop the word "unified." The idea for a unified accrediting body came from a task force set up by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, which has for a long time wanted a single accreditor. In the past, it has made no secret that ...


Among the new teacher provisions in the reauthorized Higher Education Act are "teacher development" requirements for programs that prepare teachers. Now, these programs are to set annual goals for increasing the number of teachers in shortage subjects and fields, such as math, science, technology, English-language learners, and students with disabilities. Progress toward the goals gets reported annually by the states. I'm not sure how these will affect schools of education. I did hear from one party that programs, and sometimes states, tend to allocate a number of teaching "slots" based on specialization area. A number of them may need to ...


Several former Teach For America alumni are campaigning for Sen. Barack Obama, my colleague David Hoff reports in this week's edition of Education Week (check back here on our Ed Week homepage tomorrow for the full story). Sen. John McCain, too, has said he wants to increase the number of alternative-route teachers in America's classrooms. Meanwhile, there are a bunch of new legislative plugs for the program, which puts high-achieving college graduates from top schools into some of the nation's toughest schools. The bipartisan, newly reauthorized HEA bill authorizes $20 million for TFA for fiscal 2009 and $25 million for ...


The D.C. imbroglio over Chancellor Michelle Rhee's proposed plan to boost the salaries of teachers willing to give up tenure rights has been like watching a nail-biting show on performance pay unfold. Only now it could be headed off the cliff. The proposal from the district would more than double some teachers' salaries over a period of five years if they agree to go on probation for a year. For instance, a teacher with 10 years of service could see his or her annual salary go from $56,200 to as much as $122,500. Gasp! Of course, during ...


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