Here are news and opinion stories educators, advocates, policy wonks and makers are talking about today:
News & analysis
Michelle Rhee’s Group Asks Teachers Unions To Promote Reform Policies At State Level
The day after Michelle Rhee’s education lobbying group, StudentsFirst, got dumped by progressive petition site Change.orgbecause of intense pressure from teachers’ unions, StudentsFirst waved a thorny olive branch of sorts at the nation’s two largest such unions. On Wednesday afternoon, StudentsFirst, along with other education groups such as Democrats for Education Reform, Students for Education Reform and Hispanic CREO, wrote a letter to Dennis Van Roekel and Randi Weingarten, presidents of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, asking for a “new opportunity to collaborate to improve public education for kids.” A source affiliated with one of the groups noted that the letter had been in the works before the Change.org breakup. (Huffington Post) \
States Raise the Bar With Standards Implementation
This month marks the two-year anniversary of the release of the Common Core State Standards, a set of rigorous academic expectations for English/language arts and mathematics that were envisioned, developed, and now adopted by 46 states and the District of Columbia. The most telling shift in K-12 public education in recent history is that virtually every state has set new college- and career-ready standards—common-core or state-approved. The process of implementing these standards is now under way as states are working tirelessly to bring them into classrooms—developing curricula, engaging teachers, designing assessments, and revamping instructional practices. As expected, this is hard work, and each state is taking it on in a different way. This two-year milestone is an opportune time to take a step back, recognize the incredible progress that states have made thus far, and look to the road ahead. There are few things on which our country can broadly agree, and the 46 states, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools, and their partners in the education and business communities should be incredibly proud to have achieved an unprecedented level of collaboration around high-quality education. Achieving this consensus was no easy feat. When the first conversations about developing a set of shared expectations for students began six years ago, there were legitimate differences among states and others who were involved. Working through these areas of contention resulted in a resolve to do what is right for our students, with the knowledge that this was going to call on all to accelerate our work. (Education Week)
Lawyer: school board should appeal Katrina case
An attorney for the New Orleans school board said Thursday the group should appeal a ruling that thousands of New Orleans teachers were wrongfully fired after Hurricane Katrina, estimating the decision could cost the board $1 billion in potential damage payments. Civil District Judge Ethel Simms Julien awarded more than $1 million to seven people, but because it is a class-action suit, close to 7,000 other school workers will be able to make claims for awards of various sizes. “The money’s not there anyway,” Orleans Parish School Board attorney William Aaron said. “If you’re spending that kind of money, you really want it in the classroom. The problem would have been that if teachers continued to be paid, it wouldn’t have gone into classrooms. There were no classrooms to go into.” The judge rejected school board arguments that paying teachers who had nowhere to teach, including many in other states, would have violated the Louisiana Constitution’s ban on giving away public money. (Associated Press)
50CAN in the News: Would N.Y. Set a Precedent with Cuomo Evaluation Disclosure Bill?
Reservations politicians sometimes have about “negotiating through the media” don’t seem applicable to talks over the disclosure of teacher evaluations in New York state. TheWall Street Journal and other outlets have covered in impressive detail the wrangling over thebill from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, and it appeared on June 21 the bill would pass muster with lawmakers. But there’s another aspect of the Empire State proposal that’s important to highlight. Here’s some of the back story. A teacher’s evaluation in New York will include a “composite effectiveness” score, based on 100 points, that takes into account student achievement and other factors. A teacher will also be assigned a “quality rating” (highly effective, effective, developing, or ineffective) based on that scoring system. Cuomo’s proposed legislation would allow parents to view their child’s teacher’s final quality rating and composite effectiveness score and other information, with the teacher’s name attached, but would limit the rest of the public to seeing teacher and principal evaluation data on a school- and district-wide basis, but with no names attached. Parents wouldn’t simply be handed this information, however, since they’d have to specifically request it. In addition, a teacher’s annual professional performance review wouldnn’t be subject to any public disclosure. (Education Week – State Ed Watch)
Commissioners save Union school jobs
Union County commissioners approved a budget Thursday night that will save the jobs of 75 percent of the teacher assistants who had been slated for layoffs. Commissioners agreed on a $230 million budget for fiscal year 2012-13, including $87 million for the Union County Public Schools. That is an increase of $4 million from last year. The funding for schools includes about $1.6 million added in recent days to save teacher assistant jobs. The school system had planned to eliminate 350 teacher assistant positions, citing budget cuts from the state and county. But school officials said the tentative state budget will provide the Union County Schools with $4 million more than expected. That, plus the additional county funding, will be enough to save 265 of the jobs. No layoffs are expected, because attrition typically accounts for the 85 positions left unfunded. (Charlotte Observer)
Do Too Many Young People Go to College?
A college education was once regarded as a first-class ticket to a better life. But the rising costs of higher education, the burden of student loans and a less-certain job market have left many wondering: Are too many young people going to college? We sat down with a group of education-policy experts—Sandy Baum, senior fellow at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development; James O’Neill, co-founder of the Thiel Foundation’s 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellowship; Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity; and Vivek Wadhwa, a fellow at Stanford University’s Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance—to debate the question. (Wall Street Journal online)