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

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

News & analysis

SFER’s Catharine Bellinger and Alexis Morin named to Andy Rotherham’s “12 Education Activists for 2012”
They set out to mobilize college students and get them to advocate for education reform in the voting booth and in state capitols. SFER has obviously tapped into something potent because the organization has grown to 71 chapters in 28 states. And its efforts to impact public policy aren’t just ivory tower talk. In 2011 SFER member Andrew Blumenfeld won a seat on the La Canada, Calif., school board while he was still a junior at Princeton, and SFER has put together a heavy-hitting board of directors and is raising money at a pace any organization would envy. SFER is growing so fast that Bellinger and Morin have, ironically, put their own education on hold so they can work full-time on it heading into 2012. (Time)

Review finds studies of charter schools flawed, problematic
A meta-analysis of charter school studies revealed that about 75 percent of them do not meet rigorous research standards because they don’t account for the differences in academic background and academic histories of students attending charters, when comparing them with those attending traditional public schools, according to the review, published in the renowned journal Science. Those studies typically fail to “disentangle school quality from the preexisting achievement level,” or student self-selection of schools, the article says. The article was written by Julian R. Betts, a professor of economics at the University of California, San Diego, and Richard C. Atkinson, the former president of the University of California system and the former director of the National Science Foundation. High-quality research on charters is nonetheless beginning to emerge, they say. Much of it is coming from charters that have so many applicants that they must use lotteries for admission. Because getting in or not getting in is based on chance, the students who fail to secure a spot represent a sound “control” group necessary for a study, Betts and Atkinson say. (State EdWatch)

New York: Mayor takes on teachers’ union in school plans
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, directly confronting leaders of the teachers’ union, proposed on Thursday a merit-pay system that would award top performers with $20,000 raises and threatened to remove as many as half of those working in dozens of struggling schools. Mr. Bloomberg said he would take several steps to circumvent obstacles to his proposals posed by city labor unions. He pointedly referred to the United Federation of Teachers numerous times and seemed to relish diving into some of the most controversial subjects in the education world, including merit pay, teacher evaluations and a large increase in charter schools. But in an indication of how difficult the fight will be, the union’s president, Michael Mulgrew, conspicuously declined to applaud during education-related moments of the speech and declared afterward that the mayor was living in a “fantasy education world,” proposing ideas that he did not have the power to put into effect. (New York Times)

Maryland: Almost one-third of counties aren’t meeting school funding requirements, state says
While Maryland has been ratcheting up aid to local school systems, state education officials say that seven counties aren’t paying their share and are failing to fund schools this year at the minimum level required under state law. Education advocates and state leaders say that school funding cuts by nearly one-third of the state’s 24 local jurisdictions will undermine progress at public schools that have been repeatedly ranked as the nation’s best. Class sizes are rising, teachers are not getting the support they need, and school buildings are not being well maintained, said interim state school Superintendent Bernard Sadusky. (Baltimore Sun)


A high school English teacher wants to be evaluated
When I got “tenure” at the end of last year, it didn’t feel like any kind of accomplishment. Yes, I’d received positive evaluations from my AP and my department chair, but it seemed like all I had to do was breathe and avoid major scandal for three years. This year, having tenure frustrates me, which I suppose is the opposite of what someone outside of education might expect. I get the impression from friends who aren’t teachers that they think you work really hard until you get tenure and then you just coast…put your feet up on the desk and let the kids text and braid each other’s hair or something. But I hate having tenure. I want to be evaluated— and in a genuine way, not like last year when my AP popped in for twenty minutes and proceeded to write up this long evaluation about how I used technology and differentiated instruction and small group discussion. I did, and I do those things regularly, but I hadn’t during that small window that she was there. It felt completely inauthentic. (Driving Barefoot)


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