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Are Unions Over-Reacting, Or Does Miller Proposal Over-Reach?

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While it's easy to look at this week's NCLB meltdown as the result of teachers union recalcitrance, Bess Keller's piece on the comparability provision (Proposed NCLB Rule on 'Salary Comparability' Draws Scrutiny) raises the possibility that the Miller draft, on the whole, tries to do too much -- not just fixing NCLB's flaws but carving out new ground that is especially difficult to reach under the current circumstances.

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I am not convinced that the comparability piece carves out any new ground. Rather it clarifies and solidifies the "supplement not supplant" provisions that have always been a part of Title I. So long as comparability is measured in flat FTEs a huge element of comparability is missing.

The effect on teacher's contracts should not be a federal consideration--this is truly a local issue. Equalizing funding on a school by school basis will go far toward making improvements possible in urban districts--where there have always been some pockets of excellence, side-by-side with enormous challenge. While I don't see that this will bring about a sea change in the distribution of experienced teachers, with a more equitable funding base, there are many possibilities that can provide support to the less experienced and their students. These may include increased on-site supervision/development, smaller class sizes, increased planning time, more specialized positions (intervention specialists, special education support, etc). Currently parents have no means of knowing the funding disparity between schools because the salaries are budgeted based on average FTE amounts.

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