Bleak prognosis for education agenda after budget, corruption
May 15, 2013
By Geoff Decker
(From GothamSchools, May 15th, 2013)
It was already slim odds that education would get much action from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislature this session after they increased school aid, funded several education grants, and amended the teacher evaluation law during budget negotiations in March.
But in the aftermath of a federal corruption dragnet that has brought down several lawmakers, any glimmer of hope that education could get some attention seems to have vanished.
“With this legislative session, with all the corruption, I would be surprised if anything gets passed,” said Mona Davids, who runs the New York City Parents Union, a parent advocacy group. State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery, of Brooklyn, sponsored a bill to end mayoral control that Davids lobbied for. The bill’s long odds grew even longer after Montgomery’s named surfaced last week as one of seven lawmakers recorded in the home of former Senator Shirley Huntley, who was cooperating with investigators to reduce a prison sentence. Huntley was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for embezzling funds from a charity she ran.
Davids said she believed Montgomery, who has not been charged, has done nothing wrong. Still, she said she doubted the bill could proceed before the session ends on June 30. “It’s May, but it’s over,” Davids said.
Read the full post here.
Board pushes ahead on grad guidelines
May 15, 2013
By Todd Engdahl
(From Ed News Colorado, May 15th, 2013)
The State Board of Education Wednesday unanimously adopted guidelines for high school graduation requirements, but that doesn’t mean current high school students will have to change their class schedules to order to get their diplomas.
The guidelines have a long implementation timeline, and the document is expected to be changed more than once over the next two years. That makes its impact on future students hard to predict.
The overall goal of the guidelines is to make high school diplomas represent what students actually know and can do - “competency” in education jargon. Most district graduation requirements now are based on completion of a certain number of classes over a certain number of years. (Education jargon for that is “seat time.”)
The document is “an intentional statement that we are moving from seat time to proof of competency,” said Scott Stump, a community college system administrator who was a member of the 19-person committee that developed the guidelines for SBE.
Read the full post here.
Common Core Supporters Firing Back
May 14, 2013
Bugle call on common core
By Andrew Ujifusa
(From Education Week, May 14th, 2013)
Supporters of the Common Core State Standards are moving to confront increasingly high-profile opposition to the standards at the state and national levels by rallying the private sector and initiating coordinated public relations and advertising campaigns as schools continue implementation.
In states such as Michigan and Tennessee, where common-core opponents feel momentum is with them, state education officials, the business community, and allied advocacy groups are ramping up efforts to define and buttress support for the standards—and to counter what they say is misinformation.
Supporters assert that the common core remains on track in the bulk of the states that have adopted it, all but four at last count.
But the pressure is on for common-core champions to make sure their message gets through. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington last month that the private sector had to snap out of what he portrayed as its lethargy and to prevent states from reverting to inferior standards, as he contended states did a decade ago under the No Child Left Behind Act.
"I don't understand why the business community is so passive when these kinds of things happen," he said.
Read the full post here.
Day of the Teacher, a year for Lawsuits
May 6, 2013
Teaching profession at a crossroads in California
(From OC Register, May 6th, 2013)
By Gloria Romero
California on May 8 observes the Day of the Teacher. Created 31 years ago at the behest of then-Sen. Joseph Montoya (a Democrat who, a few years later, was convicted of seven felony counts of racketeering, extortion and money laundering) the largely ceremonial event was intended to honor the teaching profession.
This year's festivities afford Californians an opportunity to reimagine the teaching profession's future. Bipartisan political reform has swept the nation in recent years, giving rise to an unprecedented focus on student achievement, teacher quality and parental choice in public education.
These efforts have galvanized a new civil-rights movement in education, with more elected officials - particularly Democrats - willing to break with their traditional allies, the teachers unions that have long dominated the education debate. Simultaneously, public opinion has sharply shifted, reflecting continued support for teachers while decrying the obstructionist role of teacher union regressive tactics and policies.
Wednesday's commemoration carries particular significance, given the recent filing of key lawsuits seeking reforms through the courts that have been blocked in both the electoral and legislative routes. Vergara vs. California seeks to have declared unconstitutional five state statutes, which for decades have impeded access to quality teachers for too many of California's 6.3 million students. Both the California Teachers Association and the smaller California Federation of Teachers were granted permission to join the case as defendants. In other words, they are taking this lawsuit extremely seriously. Vergara would shake the very foundation of the education bureaucracy, including overturning seniority rules and demanding a rigorous teacher evaluation process.
The second lawsuit was just filed in federal court in Santa Ana by 10 California teachers who resigned their union membership to challenge compulsory dues payments. "Forcing educators to financially support causes that run contrary to their political and policy beliefs violates their First Amendment rights to free expression and association," stated their lawyer.
The lawsuit follows November's defeat of Proposition 32, which would have curbed the political influence of campaign money from both corporations and unions, and the Supreme Court resolution of the Knox v. SEIU case, resulting in victory for individual union members against their unions' taking additional "special" dues from their paychecks without permission.
We are at a crossroads over the essence, quality and future of the teaching profession. Undoubtedly, the resolutions of these lawsuits will shape how California envisions and transforms the profession and how courageously it seeks changes desperately needed to close student achievement gaps and prepare an educated workforce for tomorrow's economy.
This cannot happen too soon! The most recent reports of the highly respected National Council on Teacher Quality provide a sobering assessment of how broken the profession is in California. It assigns a failing grade - D - to how well California prepares and delivers teachers. Grades of F were given to how well California even identifies effective teachers and removes ineffective ones. These grades are nothing less than shameful.
It is appropriate that we honor and celebrate teachers and their profession. But let's commit ourselves to going beyond mere ceremony. Let's commit ourselves to become proactively involved in determining the future of the teaching profession itself, as these cases wind through the courts. After all, we can't have a great state without great schools. And we certainly can't have great schools without great teachers.
Letter to the Editor: A Talent for Teaching
May 4, 2013
By Mac LeBuhn
(New York Times, May 4th, 2013)
Contrary to what Mr. Greene argues, Teach for America is right to develop leaders as well as teachers. Many corps members recognize the need for systemic change and leave the classroom to pursue better outcomes for students through other means. Difficulties with unwieldy school districts, outdated legislation and poorly allocated resources will persist even if better teachers are brought into classrooms.
Indeed, innovative former corps members like Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, founders of the KIPP charter network, promote just the “creative, independent, spontaneous, practical and rule-bending” leadership that Mr. Greene advocates for inside the classroom. Students attending KIPP middle schools are certainly better off for the leadership of these former corps members.
Teach for America should continue to balance leadership with instruction; it is only by working in the classroom as well as at the local, state and national level that we can provide all students with the education they deserve.