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FOR THE BIRDS, AND MOSTLY THE CHILDREN TOO

A New York Moment

In education:

1. The city has transformed the way it buys these [trade] books, abandoning the decades-old process in which numerous vendors competed in door-to-door or bazaar-like settings, to one in which nearly all such books — literally millions of volumes — are purchased via computer from two large discount wholesalers that have promised savings of at least 30 percent.

Savings of $18 million to the city come at cost to small local companies and possibly, as these companies contend, to students. The one-year new system accounts for over 20% of complaints logged by DOE help desk. Another lesson that change vehicles, even those that seem to yield clear gains at face value, nearly always come at some cost to some group in a system of many interests.

2.The city will end the practice of paying teachers to play Scrabble, read or surf the Internet in reassignment centers nicknamed “rubber rooms” as they await disciplinary hearings.

Under the agreement with the United Federation of Teachers, most of the teachers will be given administrative or nonclassroom work while their cases are pending. Teachers accused of serious charges including violent felonies will be suspended without pay…The city has blamed union rules that make it difficult to fire teachers, but some teachers assigned to rubber rooms say they have been singled out because they ran afoul of a principal or they blew the whistle on someone who was fudging test scores.

3. The New York State Board of Regents…will vote on whether to greatly expand the role of the alternative organizations by allowing them to create their own master’s degree programs. At the extreme, the proposal could make education schools extraneous.

Reflects the ongoing argument on whether teacher training should focus on craft or theory, and on the value of alternative programs that bring new teachers into classrooms without any academic experience – often at the expense of their more officially accredited and experienced colleagues. Also shows the effect of RTTT, where points are given to states that provide “high-quality pathways for aspiring teachers and principals” including “allowing alternative routes to certification”, and the effects of a weak economy on the profession, since alternative programs are especially attractive because participants can earn a regular starting salary from the outset while also receiving a discount on tuition for a master’s degree.

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Filed under: Collective Bargaining, EDUCATION, Policies & Agendas

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