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

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

News & analysis

Teacher diversity matters
At some point over the next 10 to 12 years, the nation’s public school student body will have no one clear racial or ethnic majority. In other words, students of color—students who are not classified as non-Hispanic whites, for purposes of this analysis—will constitute more than half of our primary and secondary students. But the makeup of the nation’s teacher workforce force has not kept up with these changing demographics. At the national level, students of color make up more than 40 percent of the public school population. In contrast, teachers of color—teachers who are not non-Hispanic white—are only 17 percent of the teaching force. Teachers of color serve as role models for students, giving them a clear and concrete sense of what diversity in education—and in our society—looks like. A recent review of empirical studies also shows that students of color do better on a variety of academic outcomes if they’re taught by teachers of color. (Center for American Progress)

Ohio: Voters reject law limiting collective bargaining rights
Ohio voters have rejected a law that would have stripped teachers of many of their collective bargaining rights, according to results reported by the Associated Press late Tuesday, an outcome that could reverberate well beyond the state’s borders. (State EdWatch)

North Carolina: School board race had national implications
Intense national political forces were focused on a local school board runoff this week in North Carolina’s capital as voters replaced tea party conservatives in a race that capped an acrimonious dispute over student busing and diversity in one of the country’s largest school districts. The campaign featured elements more commonly seen in races for higher offices: Big money from outside interest groups, opposition research and the close attention of the U.S. education secretary. (AP)

Washington: Can Tyra Banks get kids to school? Seattle says yes
Kids aren’t usually eager to wake up and get to school in the morning. They might be, though, if their favorite musician or professional athlete called to coax them out of bed — or if a shiny new bike were on the line. At least, that’s what adults in Seattle think. So the city has a new plan to improve school attendance. (NPR)

Minnesota: Levy voters send message to the legislature
This morning when Mary Cecconi, executive director of the grassroots education advocacy group Parents United and Minnesota’s unofficial school-finance historian, saw the results of yesterday’s school referenda elections she did a little happy dance. According to the online results cheat-sheet maintained by the Minnesota School Boards Association, voters yesterday approved 80 percent of the requests for operating levies on ballots in 114 communities. “To my knowledge, that’s the highest amount in recent history,” she said. “Only one renewal went down — that’s pretty empowering. I honestly don’t know how to look at this as anything but a true testament to people’s desire to have decently funded schools.” (MinnPost)

Minnesota: Committee examines desegregation funds
State Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius is introducing 12-member committee charged with evaluating the use of state funds to integrate K-12 schools. The education bill passed during the 2011 special session required the task force to study the state integration aid program and then make recommendations back to the Legislature. Cassellius named six of the members. The House and Senate each named three more members. The committee will have its first meeting next Tuesday. (Brainerd Dispatch)

Maryland: School facilities had strong support at the polls
An overwhelming majority of Baltimore city voters cast ballots in favor of a charter amendment that will establish a fund to support school facility improvements, according to unofficial poll figures, and education advocates said Wednesday that they see the vote as a “call to action” from the public. “The vote sends a clear message that Baltimore citizens support our students’ and teachers’ right to have decent, modern, and well-equipped buildings and that funds need to be allocated for that purpose,” said Frank Patinella, of the ACLU and Transform Baltimore campaign, in a release sent by the group Wednesday. (InsideEd)

Maryland: Baltimore County elementary schools at 100 percent capacity
Baltimore County’s overcrowding issue is only getting worse, according to figures released at last night’s school board meeting. Elementary schools across the system are now at 100.12 percent capacity. So while the problem is concentrated in the northern area of the county along the York Road corridor, redrawing school lines would not help the situation. You’d have ever seat filled in every school. (InsideEd)


Roxanna Elden: Five school reform soundbites that hurt teacher buy-in
Over the past year, I’ve had the chance to speak with many people in the education reform world. I have come to believe that most reformers became reformers for the same reasons that most teachers became teachers: a hope that we can provide a higher quality education to a greater number of children in a fairer and more equal way. As a teacher, though, I share my colleagues’ frustrations with some of reformers’ catchiest feel-good phrases. Teachers are not so much against education reforms as we are downstream from them. We see the way well-meaning changes play out in our schools and classrooms, and often hear troubling subtexts in talking points that sound great on TV. Here are a few examples, along with tips on how to engage teachers in the real conversations that we should be having about these issues. (Straight Up)

Randi Weingarten: Low wages lead to high teacher turnover
When I read the recent Heritage Foundation report claiming public school teachers are overpaid, my initial reaction was: You’ve got to be kidding. For anyone who believes that teachers are overpaid, I invite them to spend a week in the shoes of a public school teacher. If you don’t know any, I know of several who would gladly volunteer to host you. Do we pay our teachers appropriately for what they’re worth to society, given their extraordinary work preparing our kids for life, school, and career? The average teacher salary in the United States—for about 15 to 20 years of experience—is about $55,000. To compare, the average wage for accountants is $64,000; it’s $70,000 for database administrators and $75,000 for civil engineers. Teachers are not overpaid. (U.S. News)

Commissioner Deborah Gist: Let us bring Achievement First to Rhode Island
In September, the governor and I visited an Achievement First school in New Haven, and we both were impressed by the high quality of teaching and learning, by the strong partnerships with local school districts, and by student engagement. We agreed that we would love to see this program in Rhode Island. We also agreed that it could provide support and inspiration to other public schools here, as they move forward with dramatic improvements. Importantly for me, Achievement First would serve to show that while poverty is a challenge, it can never be a barrier as we prepare all of our students for success. (ProJo)


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