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

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

News & analysis

Rhode Island: Staff turnover tops 50 percent in Central Falls Overhaul
More than half of the faculty has left Central Falls High School since the district began planning for a state-ordered turnaround in early 2010. District officials say just 40 of the original 88 certified employees remain at the high school. Three teachers were removed for performance reasons. The other 45 left for a variety of reasons, including retirements and frustration over what some describe as a negative atmosphere at the school. Many teachers who remain say tensions between teachers and administrators have eased now that the overhaul is in its second year, and school officials are optimistic that targeted programs are helping more students to graduate. (Elisabeth Harrison)

North Carolina: Legislators override governor’s veto to weaken teachers union
House Republicans used a hastily called 12:45 a.m. session Thursday to override a gubernatorial veto and score a political victory against the state’s teacher’s union. The action outraged Democrats, who said neither they nor voters had official notice of the session until close to midnight on Wednesday. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Sen. Martin Nesbitt, a Democrat who tried to help his House colleagues stave off the late-night veto override. The measure in question strips the N.C. Association of Educators, a 60,000-member group that functions similarly to a teacher’s union, of their “dues check off” privilege. Under current rules, school systems will take money for dues from NCAE members’ paychecks and transmit it directly to the organization. This is a practical boon to an organization that would otherwise have to collect thousands of checks every month. (News Record)
Just after 1 a.m. today, in a secreted session critics called unconstitutional, Republican legislative leaders passed a bill aimed at weakening the state’s largest teachers association.Two Democrats — state Reps. William Brisson and Jim Crawford — broke party ranks to join Republicans in a 69 to 45 vote to override Perdue’s veto of the measure, Senate Bill 727. The 1:12 a.m. vote means teachers who belong to the N.C. Association of Educators can no longer have their NCAE dues deducted automatically from their paychecks. (News Record)

New York: Cuomo vows new push to improve education
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo says he is taking on a second job: lobbyist for students. In his State of the State address on Wednesday, the governor pledged to wage a campaign to put students first because all of the other parties involved in public education — from superintendents to maintenance workers and bus drivers — have lobbyists promoting their interests. “It’s not about the business, it’s not about the lobbyists,” Mr. Cuomo said. “It’s about the students, and the achievement, and we have to switch that focus.” (New York Times)

Connecticut: State taking control of school reforms
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has been clear that education will be a top priority in his administration’s second year. With a new state commissioner in place and reform on the agenda, the time to act is now. And that commissioner, Stefan Pryor, has made his own welcome statements to the effect that well-functioning schools will largely be left alone. There are plenty of systems that need extra attention. Connecticut has excellent schools, but too many that continue to ill-serve students, parents and the community. The obvious example is Bridgeport, which has seen as tumultuous a recent past as any school system should have to face. (CT Post)


Dana Goldstein: Rick Santorum’s Catholicism, the Tea Party, and education reform
Santorum–like Mitt Romney–can’t seem to run away fast enough from his centrist education record. Santorum’s new tax plan calls not for protecting education funding, but for cutting all social spending, including spending on schools, by $5 trillion over five years. In a CNN interview last week, Santorum said, “I talk all the time about having voted for No Child Left Behind. And, you know, it was a mistake. You know, it was a … a dumb thing to vote for because it gave more federal control over education, which was something that, you know, I didn’t advocate for, but I voted for.” What happened? In short: the Tea Party. As I described in an August Slate article, the Tea Party’s close alliance with the Christian Right has replaced the bipartisan, standards-and-accountability consensus on education with a stark, ideological battle between Republicans like Romney, who continue to see public schools as important anti-poverty and economic-competitiveness tools, and Republicans like Michele Bachmann, who have long seen schools as potential corrupters of the nation’s youth–as institutions that illegitimately challenge the rightful role of parents in shaping children’s moral, political, religious, and sexual belief systems. (Dana Goldstein)

Alexander Russo: Will reformers ever broaden their agenda?
Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone was their front.  They might have loved “The Wire” but they didn’t incorporate any of its lessons into their agenda. Skyrocketing child poverty rates didn’t persuade them to pay more than lip service to broader social issues. Even universal preschool was too broad a challenge for them to take on in any meaningful way. This recent Esquire article notes that while the US has less social mobility than all the other OECD countries besides Italy and Britain class issues can still be hard for people to see and respond to because they’re so entrenched and so at odds with self-perception: “The emerging aristocracy remains staunchly convinced that it is not an aristocracy, that it’s the result of hard work and talent. The permanent working poor refuse to accept that their poverty is permanent. The class system is clandestine.” (Alexander Russo)


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