Curtis Whatley is a past member of the 50CAN team. 

Here’s what educators, advocates, wonks and policymakers are talking about today:

News & analysis

Big study links good teachers to lasting gains
Elementary- and middle-school teachers who help raise their students’ standardized-test scores seem to have a wide-ranging, lasting positive effect on those students’ lives beyond academics, including lower teenage-pregnancy rates and greater college matriculation and adult earnings, according to a new study that tracked 2.5 million students over 20 years. The paper, by Raj Chetty and John N. Friedman of Harvard and Jonah E. Rockoff of Columbia, all economists, examines a larger number of students over a longer period of time with more in-depth data than many earlier studies, allowing for a deeper look at how much the quality of individual teachers matters over the long term. “That test scores help you get more education, and that more education has an earnings effect — that makes sense to a lot of people,” said Robert H. Meyer, director of the Value-Added Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which studies teacher measurement but was not involved in this study. “This study skips the stages, and shows differences in teachers mean differences in earnings.” (New York Times)

Has the NEA warmed up to Teach for America?
There is a growing backlash against National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel’s recent collaborations with Teach for America leader Wendy Kopp on the issue of teacher preparation. Some NEA members have written on blogs that they are furious at Van Roekel, and early childhood expert Nancy Carlsson-Paige just declined an opportunity for her and her son, actor and activist Matt Damon, to be nominated for the Friend of Education Award from the NEA. It isn’t clear just how much Van Roekel has ruffled feathers in his union but some educators have written that they feel he has undercut efforts to expose Teach for America’s deficiencies and perhaps get it to change. On Daily Kos, Teacherken wrote recently that he felt “betrayed” by Van Roekel. Education blogger, Anthony Cody, on his “Living in Dialogue” blog at Education Week Teacher, wrote that the NEA president was sending mixed messages. He noted that the Kopp/Van Roekel op-ed said, “Unfortunately, not all teachers are getting the high-quality preparation they need to excel with students in the classroom.” (Valerie Strauss)

Students of online schools are lagging
The number of students in virtual schools run by educational management organizations rose sharply last year, according to a new report being published Friday, and far fewer of them are proving proficient on standardized tests compared with their peers in other privately managed charter schools and in traditional public schools. About 116,000 students were educated in 93 virtual schools — those where instruction is entirely or mainly provided over the Internet — run by private management companies in the 2010-11 school year, up 43 percent from the previous year, according to the report being published by the National Education Policy Center, a research center at the University of Colorado. About 27 percent of these schools achieved “adequate yearly progress,” the key federal standard set forth under the No Child Left Behind act to measure academic progress. By comparison, nearly 52 percent of all privately managed brick-and-mortar schools reached that goal, a figure comparable to all public schools nationally. (New York Times)

Rhode Island: Regents to vote on career/tech rules
The Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education has scheduled a vote today on new regulations for career and technical education. State officials say the change is aimed at making career readiness a priority in all schools, not just career and technical schools. The new rules would require all public schools in Rhode Island to provide “career exploration” opportunities, such as internships. School districts would also have to pay out-of-district tuition for students who want to attend training programs not offered by their home districts. (Elisabeth Harrison)

North Carolina: Teachers group to sue over dues bill
The N.C. Association of Educators and Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue accused Republican legislative leaders Thursday of holding an illegal overnight meeting to overturn the governor’s veto of a bill that some considered punishment for the NCAE’s political activity. Officials with the NCAE said it planned to sue to overturn the law, which ends its ability to have voluntary member dues deducted directly from teacher paychecks. A large majority of the association’s revenues, which are used for lobbying and legislative advocacy, comes from dues of its 70,000 members. (Winston-Salem Journal)

Maryland: Are schools good neighbors?
Civic associations have begun to elect representatives for a new committee that will choose the site for a second middle school in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase cluster. The Montgomery County Board of Education had approved a site in Rock Creek Hills Park last April, but neighbors protested the location, and many argued the selection process was unfair. Superintendent Joshua Starr restarted the process in November. School officials tend to argue that they are good neighbors: They offer parks, playgrounds or sports facilities that can be used by the community, and they serve a public good. But like nearly any new development, they bring traffic and noise. Neighbors worry about crime or loitering teens or property values. (Washington Post)


Diane Ravitch: Questions for the Cuomo Commission
Governor Cuomo’s commission on education has an opportunity to change the direction of school reform. Right now, the state’s school system is in trouble. Federal tests show that achievement in reading and mathematics in fourth and eighth grades has been flat across the state for most of the past decade. In the one tested area that looked promising — fourth-grade mathematics — New York was the only state in the nation in which scores declined in 2011. The commission needs to ask some tough questions. (School Book)


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