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

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

News & analysis

The teachers’ union hypothesis
In general, the existing research is mixed, and suggests that there is only a weak relationship between unions and achievement scores. Given the methodological difficulties (for example, non-random assignment of unionization and the fact that some policies, such as tenure, exist in all states), as well as the fact that the research is still developing, we cannot say for certain whether unions exert some large-scale influence over student outcomes. (Shanker Blog)

Transparency watch: Secret (for now) NCLB waiver judges
In less than three weeks, states will begin turning in their applications for waivers under No Child Left Behind, and then it will be up to a cadre of peer reviewers to help Education Secretary Arne Duncan decide who gets a waiver, and who doesn’t. Just who these judges are will remain secret, the department says, until the peer review process is pretty much over. That’s how the department operated in the Race to the Top competition, too, when it was worried about undue influence states might put on the judges, whose names were kept secret until the winners were announced. (Politics K-12)

Principals, what would you do with more time in a day?
In many districts, the principal wears more hats than the Queen of England, from administrator to teacher coach to disciplinarian. A new study suggests principals who learn time scheduling and management delegation can gain the equivalent of an extra day each week for instructional leadership. (Inside School Research)

University of Michigan project scales up “high leverage” teaching practices
The University of Michigan today unveiled a new organization that will help teacher-training programs—and the teacher-education field in general—develop a more systematic approach to preparing their candidates. Led by Deborah Loewenberg Ball, a renowned professor and dean of the university’s school of education, TeachingWorks will disseminate a set of core skills for beginning teachers, along with a curriculum, materials, and performance assessments to help teachers master 19 specific skills. It also aspires to serve as a clearinghouse of information and evidence about high-quality teacher education. (Teacher Beat)

Minnesota: Educators tackle standards for principal evaluations
With increasing pressure over the last decade to improve student achievement, a growing body of research highlights the crucial role school principals play in creating good environments for learning. But in Minnesota, there is no uniform method to evaluate the state’s roughly 1,700 principals. That’s about to change, due to a law passed this summer, and a group of educators who will develop the evaluation criteria and method. (MPR)

New York: Rumore affirms stance on school turnarounds
Buffalo Teachers Federation President Philip Rumore remains steadfastly opposed to a school turnaround model that involves moving the principal and half the faculty from failing schools. “We will not sign off on summarily moving half the staff,” he said Monday. “How does that improve education? The students have a relationship with these teachers. It’s ludicrous.” Rumore said he also opposes turning any of the failing schools over to a charter school management organization. That effectively leaves only one federal turnaround model that Rumore would support — hiring outside educational partnership organizations to run the schools. (Buffalo News)

New Jersey: Stephen Sweeney questions Christie administration’s efforts to change the way public schools are funded
Senate President Stephen Sweeney is questioning the Christie administration’s efforts to change the way public schools are funded before it fully funds them using a formula approved by the state Supreme Court. Sweeney sent a letter Monday to Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf, seeking details on a group of independent consultants who Sweeney says have been asked to recommend changes to the School Funding Reform Act of 2008. (Star Ledger)

Maryland: State weighs speeding up school disciplinary process
In Montgomery County, a 14-year-old in trouble for fighting was out of class for almost four weeks before he received a ruling on whether he would be expelled. In Prince George’s County, a 17-year-old special education student idled at home for nearly a month without a disciplinary ruling, and then was assigned to an alternative school as he waited three more weeks. When a hearing was finally held, he was returned to his original school the next day. These and other accounts of life in academic limbo — from lawyers involved — are in the spotlight as the Maryland State Board of Education considers a measure to speed up disciplinary decision-making in the state’s 24 school systems. (WaPo)

Georgia: Atlanta schools chief orders test score audits
Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll Davis said he’s ordered audits of standardized test scores in the district’s 23 high schools and of graduation rates and grading procedures. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reviewed thousands of pages of reports from the school district’s internal investigations, along with other public records, and interviewed educators, parents and students. The newspaper said its investigation of Atlanta’s high schools found a pattern of academic irregularities. (Online Athens)

Rhode Island: Teachers focus on helping military children
Rhode Island educators are gathering to discuss the special challenges faced by children with parents serving in the military. The Rhode Island National Guard and the state’s Department of Education are hosting a daylong training workshop Tuesday to help teachers craft ways to help military children succeed in school while their parents are deployed. (ProJo)

Louisiana: New Orleans schools chief is on the cusp of grasping state superintendent’s reins
Saturday’s elections for seats on the state board of education did not immediately resolve the struggle over public schools in Louisiana. But they did leave John White, the top school official in New Orleans and someone who has become a kind of litmus test for where people stand on reform, just a vote shy of becoming the next state superintendent. White’s appointment is still uncertain. Any candidate will need an eight-member supermajority on the 11-member board to take over the Louisiana Department of Education. (Times-Picayune)


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