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

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

News & analysis

Federal role in K-12 at heart of ESEA Hearing
Anyone following the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act would be able to guess at the big question hanging over a hearing on the House GOP bills to rewrite the law: What’s the right role for the federal government in helping to improve K-12 education? The legislation, introduced last week by Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, would squelch the federal role in education policy, leaving almost all major accountability decisions to states. (Politics K-12)

New York: Agreement reached on teacher evaluations
Every teacher in the state soon will be evaluated under a more rigorous system designed to more closely link teacher ratings to student growth on assessments and to reliable classroom observations. The new state requirements for teacher evaluations, announced Thursday, are intended to more accurately evaluate teachers, provide support for those deemed ineffective and hold up those considered effective as role models. A teacher rated ineffective two years in a row could face termination proceedings. The governor, state education commissioner and president of New York State United Teachers announced the agreement, which applies to all teachers in the state as of the 2012-13 school year. A variety of education reform groups issued statements praising Cuomo and supporting the deal. Among them: Democrats for Education Reform, Students for Education Reform and the New York Campaign for Achievement Now. (Buffalo News)

New York: UFT wins third-party review for some “ineffective” teacher ratings
Today’s agreement on teacher evaluation appeals wasn’t a complete loss for the union – just 87 percent of one. When talks over an evaluation system broke down last year, the conflict centered on who should have the final say on teachers rated ‘ineffective’ under the new evaluation system. The city wanted all appeals to be decided by the chancellor, while the union wanted an independent third party to make the final call. The subsequent deal that was struck as part of today’s statewide teacher evaluations on paper appears to favor the city. Eighty-seven percent of first-year ineffective rating appeals will still be heard by the Chancellor, while second-year ratings will go straight to a 3020-a termination process. (Gotham Schools)

New York: The secretary of education on Jeremy Lin
I’m so thrilled for him. But for me, what an important lesson it is. How happy I am for the nation’s young people, for the world’s young people, to see the example he sets. Whether you’re an Asian-American kid, or a white kid or a black kid, you just see someone who has worked so hard and hadn’t had the opportunity. And finally gets the opportunity and breaks through. The bling, the glam, or the fame, the individualism … what I’ve always loved about basketball is it’s a team sport. It’s not golf. The fact that the best thing he does is make his teammates better, that’s the lesson in all this. (ESPN)

Minnesota: House passes bill stripping seniority as key factor in teacher layoffs
Proponents of basing teacher layoffs on performance rather than seniority got a big victory Thursday, with the Republican-led Minnesota House passing a bill that would end the practice of using experience as the deciding factor when schools have to let teachers go. Despite criticism from opponents that the legislation was moving too fast and had potential legal land mines that haven’t been addressed, lawmakers passed the bill on a 68-61 vote along mostly party lines. Minnesota is one of 11 states that have so-called “last in, first out” layoff practices on the books. Proponents argue that hurts student achievement because they lose effective teachers and it forces more teachers to lose their jobs because districts have to let go of their least expensive teachers. “We don’t have to be quality blind when we lay people off,” said House Majority Leader Matt Dean, R-Dellwood. “We need to do better.” Groups like the Minnesota Campaign for Achievement Now and StudentsFirst, an advocacy group created by former Washington, D.C., public schools chancellor Michelle Rhee that focuses on issues such as school choice and accountability, have mobilized thousands in the state around making changes to education, including ending seniority-based teacher layoffs. (Pioneer Press)

Opinion

Joe Williams: On teacher evaluations, the reformers win
Weeks after declaring he would be a “lobbyist for students,” Gov. Cuomo delivered his 2.75 million young clients a major victory Thursday, using the weight of his office to break through the logjam blocking a common-sense mechanism for evaluating teachers based on whether children are learning. In addition to helping create a system that prizes quality and performance, Cuomo’s leadership here likely saved more than $1 billion in federal funding. The usual suspects in education policy had dragged their feet for so long that even Washington got the message that we had no intention of doing what we promised when we won President Obama’s Race to the Top prize. For students of education reform like me, there are six big lessons here. (Daily News)

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