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:
Chicago teachers debate questions about contract offer, await vote that could end strike

As they prepared for a vote that could end Chicago’s first teachers strike in 25 years, teachers were balancing their desire to get back to class with lingering doubts and questions about a proposed contract that could mean major changes to their pay and job security. Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said she expected union delegates to have a possibly lengthy debate when they reconvene Tuesday afternoon, two days after refusing to end the strike because they hadn’t seen all the contract details. (Washington Post) 

Obama Campaign on Teachers’ Strike: It’s Not a Political Distraction
The Chicago teachers’ strike, now in its second week, is becoming such a political issue that it was the subject of three questions during a half-hour press briefing today with White House and Obama campaign officials. I’ve pasted the entire back-and-forth below, but a few curious things popped out at me. First, Obama campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, no, she doesn’t think this is becoming a distraction and that plenty of union members are still “working for” the president, even as they work to resolve the dispute. She maintained that “no one thinks … that a local political dispute is representative of the national debate we’re having about education.” (Education Week – Politics K-12) 

New Studies Dissect School Turnarounds
What makes one low-performing school turn around and build momentum over time, while another, seemingly similar school tries the same strategies but continues to struggle? It’s not just particular programs or practices, but the interplay of school implementation with district policies and support, according to the Institute of Education Sciences’ Turning Around Low-Performing Schools project—the most comprehensive federal research on such schools to date. (Education Week)

NAEP Shows Most Students Lack Writing Proficiency
After decades of paper-and-pencil tests, the new results from the “nation’s report card” in writing come from a computer-based assessment for the first time, but only about one-quarter of the 8th and 12th graders performed at the proficient level or higher. And the proficiency rates were far lower for black and Hispanic students. With the new National Assessment of Educational Progress in writing, students not only responded to questions and composed their essays on laptop computers, but also were evaluated on how frequently they used word-processing review tools like “spell check” and editing tools such as copying and cutting text. Some prompts also featured multimedia components. (Education Week) 

Study Weighs Pros, Cons of Teacher Turnover
Teacher turnover can raise the average instructional quality of a struggling school, but there’s no guarantee that a school trying to turn around will keep its best teachers and lose its worst. That is the conclusion of a new study by Michael Hansen, a longitudinal-data research associate at the American Institutes for Research . (Education Week) 

North Carolina:
Seclusion in N.C. District Legal, Feds Say

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights concludes that a North Carolina school district’s use of seclusion rooms to deal with students’ aggressive behavior is legal. The Wilmington, N.C. StarNews reported Monday that an office of civil rights investigation into the practice in New Hanover schools has concluded, with the agency finding that the district was complying with a state law that allows practices including seclusion rooms to deal with aggressive student behavior. (Education Week) 



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