Lisa Gibes is 50CAN’s vice president of strategy and external relations. She lives in San Francisco, CA.

Here are news and opinion stories educators, advocates, policy wonks and makers are talking about today:

News & analysis:
Bill to create statewide teacher evaluation system clears key hurdle

Measure would effectively eliminate state requirements to use student test scores in evaluating teachers. L.A. district says that would mean ‘less accountability.’ A key Senate committee approved a bill Thursday aimed at enhancing teacher evaluations that would effectively eliminate state requirements to use student standardized test scores to measure an instructor’s effectiveness. AB 5, by Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes (D-Sylmar), would establish a statewide uniform teacher evaluation system that would increase performance reviews, classroom observations, training of evaluators and public input into the review process. The bill was approved, 5-2, by the Senate Appropriations Committee after Fuentes found $89 million to fund it and move it forward. (Los Angeles Times) 

Why Teachers Unions Are Losing Support
Teachers unions have been called practically every bad name under the sun for so long that it seemed impossible to add to the list. At least that’s what I thought until I reflected on events unfolding in California, particularly in the Los Angeles Unified School District. On that basis, I’d now like to add another name: oblivious. Let me explain. In June, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled that the district had been violating children’s rights to an equal educational opportunity by ignoring the Stull Act of 1971. That’s because the act required student test scores to be used in teacher evaluations. The court, however, held that the details of teacher evaluation be collectively bargained. But then Assembly Bill 5 was reintroduced. If passed, it would leave the court’s decision “moot by gutting that provision of the Stull Act” (“Sorry, teachers, test scores should count,” Los Angeles Times, Aug. 16). Its resurfacing at this time can only be attributed to the efforts of the California Teachers Assn., widely considered to be the state’s most powerful union. (Education Week – Reality Check) 

Parent Power & Education Advocacy
I recently moderated a fascinating discussion about parent engagement — and not the kind that has to do with supervising field trips and providing extra classroom supplies. The focus was on how new organizations like DFER and 50CAN are seeking to mobilize parents when it comes to policy debates over school reform. This “parent power” trend is provoking some real questions about how these new efforts will play out on the ground. The conversation focused on twin new studies penned by two authors, my AEI colleague Andrew Kelly and Drew University Professor Pat McGuinn, examining parent power and reform advocacy. The panelists were an all-star lineup of Parent Revolution’s Ben Austin, Derrell Bradford of Better Education for Kids, and Kenya Bradshaw of Stand for Children. (Frederick 

New York:
Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott Announces Results of Teacher Tenure Decisions

Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott today announced that 55 percent of eligible teachers were awarded tenure this year—maintaining the more rigorous standards developed for the 2010-11 school year. The Department of Education’s new approach to teacher tenure raises the bar by asking principals to provide detailed evidence to support their tenure recommendations. “I’d like to congratulate the teachers who were granted tenure this year, and commend principals who are demanding higher standards. Receiving tenure is no longer an automatic right, and our new approach ensures that teachers who are granted tenure have earned it,” said Chancellor Walcott. “But our work is not done. We must improve the tenure process even further, and a teacher evaluation system will do just that and ensure our children are taught by the best.” ( 

View points:
Bryan C. Hassel & Celine Coggins: Expanding the Impact of Excellent Teachers

If you are a teacher who helps students learn exceptionally well, this is your moment—schools and policymakers must vastly expand your impact, now. Today, our nation is at a crossroads; we simply cannot fall short educationally for another decade as other countries surge. Why is this time unique? Two crucial trends are at play. First, the United States has begun to act on the compelling data showing great variation in teachers’ success in helping students learn, as well as the monumental impact this variation can have on the life chances of students. As states and districts work to build better teacher-evaluation systems, schools will have increasingly accurate and useful data to identify which teachers are exceptionally effective. (Education Week) 


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