Tag: Tom Boasberg


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Five New Burning Questions in the World of School Reform


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A few things to ponder as the snow melts: When will Centrist and left-leaning Democrat school reformers not named Anthony Williams or Marion Barry embrace vouchers as zealously as they…

Photo courtesy of Fallbrook Bonsall Village News

A few things to ponder as the snow melts:

  1. When will Centrist and left-leaning Democrat school reformers not named Anthony Williams or Marion Barry embrace vouchers as zealously as they support charter schools? After all, both promote choice and improved educational opportunities for poor students — and place public dollars into private hands. And given the research gleaned from the pioneering Milwaukee voucher program, the effectiveness of vouchers is no less proven than that of charters.
  2. Will Denver’s Tom Boasberg be the next crusading reform-minded superintendent in the Michelle Rhee-Joel Klein mold? Reed Hunt’s protege-turned telecom executive-turned school official  is already striking a blow against forced placement of laggard teachers. But can he advance the district’s performance pay plan and take it up several notches to make it truly effective in driving teacher effectiveness?
  3. Which state will be the next battleground over teachers pensions and retiree benefits? National Education Association affiliates in Vermont, Pennsylvania and New Jersey are already battling to stave off increases in contributions and retirement ages. Could it be Indiana — home to the collapse of the NEA’s Indiana affiliate (and where Gov. Mitch Daniels and Superintendent Tony Bennett are already already advancing a series of reforms)? Or is it nearby Illinois, home to the nation’s biggest teacher pension deficit? Or maybe, Utah?
  4. What is the next step in the debate over charter schools and segregation? It is well-known that Richard Kahlenberg and company are displeased with the role of charters in President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top reforms and likely even more displeased by its role in his proposed reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act and the 2010-2011 budget. Will the reports released by the Civil Rights Project and be followed up by missives from a few members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other key players on the Hill?
  5. How will Randi Weingarten react to the move by the Houston Independent School District to fully tie student test scores to teacher evaluations? Given her pronounced support last month for such measurements, will she end up siding largely with the district and telling her local to just water it down a little? Or will she back the local’s effort to ditch altogether. Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee are definitely watching this one. So is the NEA and the school reform movement.
  6. And yes, I had to add a sixth: Who will succeed Jack Jennings as head of the Center for Education Policy? More importantly, will it release another report on high school exit exams? The second answer is clearly more apparent than the first.

More burning questions later this week.

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Read: Post-Super Bowl Edition


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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 the  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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