What’s happening today in the dropout nation:

  1. When the National Education Association took control of the Indiana State Teachers Association last year, Association after the collapse of its insurance trust fund, it was more than just a colossal embarrassment of alleged financial mismanagement – and a loss of coverage for its 50,000 rank-and-file members. After decades of winning expensive compensation packages that have made teaching one of the best-paid professions in the public sector, the collapse of ISTA — along with $600 billion in pension deficits and underfunded retirement liabilities — exposes teachers unions to increased scrutiny — especially as taxpayers may end up on the hook for the unions’ failings. Read more about the collapse — and how it could help spur teacher compensation and quality reforms — in my latest Labor Watch report.
  2. Tom Vander Ark sums up the problem with the Obama Administration’s decision to essentially gut the No Child Left Behind Act by eliminating its Adequate Yearly Progress provisions: Doing so will abandon the promise of assuring that every child no matter their race or economic status, can attend a great school staffed by high-performing teachers. Of course, as I hinted last week in The American Spectator, the administration may be doing this (along with boosting education spending for FY 2011) in order to placate the NEA and AFT, whose help they will need in order to keep control of Congress.
  3. The folks behind The Lottery are rallying folks around an “Education Constitution” demanding teacher quality reforms, expansion of school choice and other reforms. Check it out and sign it.
  4. The U.S. Department of Education releases a timely report on an important — if rarely-considered — use of school data: Improving teaching, staffing, student diagnostics and other matters at the district, school and even classroom levels. As I wrote last year in A Byte at the Apple, school data will only be the most useful once the information is delivered and made accessible in ways teachers, administrators and parents find appealing and useful. Right now, however, this is still a problem.
  5. Speaking of useful data, the Consortium on Chicago School Research has a series of papers examining the on-time graduation progress of the Windy City’s high school students. Each of Chicago’s high schools are examined in depth. Read them. I am.
  6. EducationNews is re-running another one of teaching guru Martin Haberman’s fine essays, this on whether the right people are entering teaching. Given the efforts to reform ed schools and weed out laggards before they even apprentice, the piece is as timely as ever.
  7. And, with Gary Orfield’s study of charter school segregation gaining attention from newspapers and school reformers alike, Sonya Sharp of Mother Jones points out the one thing everyone forgets: Traditional school districts are just as segregated (and often, even more segregated) no matter where we go. Joanne Jacobs also offers a compendium of the arguments (including those by your friendly neighborhood editor). And, by the way, here is a piece I wrote a few years ago about diversity and public schools.
  8. Intramural Sparring Watch: Big Edreform Andy #1 (also known as Andrew Rotherham) This Week in Education‘s Alexander Russo (and his employer, Scholastic) for for allegedly running “hearsay” claims against Massachusetts’ education secretary, Paul Reveille, for his supposed intervention in the authorizing of a local charter school. Russo, by the way, has taken potshots against Rotherham and his folks at the Education Sector (which Rotherham, by the way, is leaving by the end of March) for years. Most recently, he accused EdSector of allegedly mucking around with a report authored by EdSector’s now-departed cofounder. Yeah, I’m exhausted from just writing about this.

Meanwhile, check out this week’s Dropout Nation Podcast on the reauthorization of No Child, along with my pieces this week on charter schools and segregation. The next podcast, on civil rights activists and education reform, will be available on Sunday before the Super Bowl. And since you are all stuck inside, get your debate on.