Here are news and opinion stories educators, advocates, policy wonks and makers are talking about today:
News & analysis:
Report: Florida Investigating K12 Inc. for Using Noncertified Teachers
The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting and StateImpact Florida reported today that Florida’s Department of Education is investigating whether online education company K12 Inc. used noncertified teachers in violation of state law, and covered it up by asking teachers to sign class rosters of students they didn’t teach. The investigation revolves around Seminole County, Florida, and its Seminole Virtual Instruction program, provided by K12 Inc., a for-profit company that is the nation’s largest virtual school provider. A series of internal emails sent to Seminole County by a former K12 Inc. employee suggest the company tried to skirt state teacher certification rules to use less-qualified—and, in turn, less-compensated—teachers, according to the report, by John O’Connor and Trevor Aaronson. Those emails sparked the state’s investigation, the report said. (Education Week – Marketplace K-12)
Several incumbents fall to challengers
A number of high-profile incumbents lost their seats after voters went to the polls on Tuesday to decide 27 primary contests in the House and 13 in the Senate that, in some cases, had become battlegrounds for debates on public education, same-sex marriage and pension reform. One closely watched leadership race, with significance beyond town borders, was a nail-biter, but Senate Finance Chairman Daniel DaPonte won. In another close race, Senate Judiciary Chairman Michael McCaffrey also kept his seat. But Rep. Peter Petrarca, a top deputy to House Speaker Gordon D. Fox, lost his District 44 House seat in Lincoln to challenger Gregory Costantino, a member of the family that owns Venda Ravioli, on a 60- to 40-percent vote. Rep. Leo Medina, of Providence, who is facing charges for embezzlement and practicing law without a license, was beaten by Joseph Almeida, the retired Providence police officer he sent from office in 2010. (Providence Journal)
Minnesota educators, policymakers train keen eye on Chicago strike: What’s it all about?
Since 6:30 Monday morning, when Chicago’s 26,000 unionized public school teachers began walking picket lines outside the city’s 675 schools, the public has been told that the work stoppage marks a watershed moment for schools everywhere. Yet neither side has been able to articulate a crisp response to the simplest question: Why are the teachers striking? A central complication is a sweeping, year-old, Illinois education reform, hailed as a national model by many, that changed many of the terms over which the two sides are deadlocked — and the terms by which teachers can strike. (MinnPost)
Where’s the money?
How about a math lesson in the newspaper, since math isn’t being taught this week in most Chicago Public Schools. The Chicago Board of Education, which canceled a 4 percent teacher salary hike last year because the school system was flat broke, has offered teachers what amounts to a 4 percent raise each year for the next four years. The board has also promised to hire 477 more teachers to accommodate the longer school day.
Where’s the money for all this? Did CPS win the lottery? The school board has offered a 3 percent raise the first year of the contract, followed by a 2 percent raise in each of the next three years. Factoring in automatic “step” pay increases that reward seniority, the average raise would wind up at 16 percent over the contract’s four years, according to CPS figures. (Chicago Tribune)
Must Teachers and School Officials Be Foes?
The conditions and disagreements that led to theteachers strike in Chicago are in some ways uniqueto that city, but in other ways they reflect the growing tension nationwide between teachers and officials over issues like charter school expansion,evaluations, class size, discipline and pay. Do relations between teachers and officials need to cool off and become more cooperative, or can needed change come only through confrontation? Do teachers unions promote or inhibit excellence? And do they help retain the best teachers or drive them away? (New York Times)