Tag: Labor Watch

Read: Unions and Charter Schools Department

The dropout nation in the news today: For the past three decades, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers has regarded the charter school movement as the…

Charters are on her mind -- and in more ways than one.

The dropout nation in the news today:

  1. For the past three decades, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers has regarded the charter school movement as the worst of the elements in the overall school reform movement. From efforts to restrict establishment of charters in statehouses and school boards to efforts to use preliminary National Assessment of Educational Progress results to sway federal education policy, the nation’s two primary teachers unions have failed miserably in attempts to stall the growth of charters. But over the past couple of years, the NEA and AFT have focused on organizing teaching staffs within these schools. Why? Read more in my latest Labor Watch report and drop by Dropout Nation for more commentary on the strategies and the likelihood of success in their organizing efforts.
  2. As I noted last week in The American Spectator, the closing of Catholic schools in Baltimore should prompt alarm among school reformers interested in expanding the availability of high-quality educational options for the most-under-served children. This doesn’t just apply in Baltimore. As the New York Post reports today, parents and children attending two New York Archdiocese schools slated for closure are none too happy about this prospect. Certainly the traditional model of financing and operating Catholic schools is uneconomic; some closing may need to happen. But figuring out ways to support these choices should figure into the minds of all reformers.
  3. This week’s Headshaker comes courtesy of Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams, who echoes complaints from Diane Ravitch and others that teacher quality reform efforts (along with the outlier that is the firing of 93 teachers at the high school in Central Falls, R.I.) are signs that reformers are becoming bloodthirsty and overly blame-gaming. Her position: Parents and children need to take responsibility for their own academic failures. The fact that children already bear the brunt of poor academic instruction in the long run through poverty, chronic unemployment and incarceration fails to figure into her thinking. So does the reality that teachers have long been insulated from performance management thanks to a lack of strong human capital management by districts, bans on the use of student test scores in evaluating teacher performance and state laws that make teacher dismissals expensive, cumbersome and difficult to undertake. And the fact that teachers are protected by unions that use their war chests and lobbying heft to influence education policy also doesn’t figure into her discussion. Oh, and she uses too many anecdotes instead of facts.
  4. In Detroit, several foundations are looking to launch 70 new charter schools, according to the Detroit Free Press. If these charters do the job, this could mean more opportunities for high-quality education for the Motor City’s poorly-served children. It also comes for Detroit Public Schools at the least-opportune time: It is attempting to bolster its declining enrollment. (HT for the latter link to Steve Moore, who Dropout Nation readers should also follow on Twitter, along with yours truly.)

Check out today’s Dropout Nation report on the U.S. Department of Education’s renewed civil rights enforcement efforts and what this could mean for school equity/advocacy tort lawyers, states and districts. Also listen to today’s Dropout Nation Podcast on what President Obama and Arne Duncan should do in expanding Race to the Top.

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Read: Post-Super Bowl Edition

The news in the dropout nation this Monday morning: In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie is drawing a line in the sand on the state’s expensive teacher and public employee…

Photo courtesy of the Associated Press

The news in the dropout nation this Monday morning:

  1. In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie is drawing a line in the sand on the state’s expensive teacher and public employee retirement benefits, according to the Star-Ledger. Garden State teachers, many of whom currently get healthcare gratis, will have to pay 1.5 percent of salary towards healthcare and another 1.5 percent towards their pensions. As seen in Vermont and Pennsylvania, expect the state’s NEA chapter to express strong opposition to any changes that aren’t in its favor. But as more than $600 billion in pension and retirement health care deficits continue to grow, expects to other states to take similar actions (if not anything more radical).
  2. Speaking of retirement benefits: Read my latest Labor Watch report, this on how the collapse of the NEA’s Indiana affiliate may force additional scrutiny on other teachers union-run (but state- and locally-financed) health insurance plans and lead to reform of the traditional teachers compensation system. Also, listen to the Dropout Nation podcast on why taxpayers will demand reform, and a report I wrote last year about the cost of teachers pensions and healthcare benefits.
  3. At the Quick and the Ed, Chad Alderman makes a few more points about teachers compensation and the effectiveness of teachers through a chart. Essentially, he points out that the average teacher is no more effective after 25 years of experience than she is after four. Which leads to some additional things to consider on the teacher pay front.
  4. In Denver, school superintendent Tom Boasberg tells principals that the district will eliminate theĀ  forced placement of laggard teachers, especially in the district’s worst schools. If the district succeeds, it will be a major move for better performance management that others can follow.
  5. In Rochester, Mayor Bob Duffy’s effort to take control of the upstate New York school district’s school board is opposed by local black preachers, according to WHAM-TV. The official reason: The mayor would get too much power and deny the right to vote on the school board. But let’s be honest: It would likely disturb their ability to use the district as a jobs program a la pre-Michelle Rhee D.C.
  6. And Andy Rotherham points out the sobering graduation rate facts about yesterday’s Super Bowl.

Check out this week’s Dropout Nation Podcast on civil rights and school reform. Enjoy.

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Read: Snowbound Edition

What’s happening today in the dropout nation: When the National Education Association took control of the Indiana State Teachers Association last year, Association after the collapse of its insurance trust…

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) calls out 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.

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The Read: Teacher Pay Edition

My recent report on the high cost of teacher retirement packages definitely struck a cord with some folks. Reason‘s Brian Doherty notes that the teacher pension and healthcare deficits are…

New solutions must be undertaken if we want high-quality teachers in the classroom, especially in order to turn around the nation's dropout factories.

How to pay for teachers? Certainly not by maintaining the status quo.

My recent report on the high cost of teacher retirement packages definitely struck a cord with some folks. Reason‘s Brian Doherty notes that the teacher pension and healthcare deficits are part of an even-larger problem of funding civil servant retirements. Neil McCluskey at Cato offer their own thoughts, based in part on his own fine study of teacher compensation.

Meanwhile a couple of readers didn’t fully understand the argument being made — that teachers, for all their complaints about low play and demands for “respect” (i.e. money) — are among the best-compensated and best-protected professions. Think about it: The average teacher in TK states will

All that said, teacher compensation is out of whack: The lack of strong, objective annual evaluation of performance means that highly-effective teachers are paid as well as teachers lagging in subject-matter competence and instructional talent. The compensation system rewards veteran teachers, regardless of their ability, even though teachers are most likely to be effective during their early years in the classroom.

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