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FOR THE BIRDS, AND MOSTLY THE CHILDREN TOO

The Temperature – Teacher Evaluation

Teachers would be measured on a 100-point scale, with 20 percent points based on how much students improve on the standardized state exams. Another 20 percent would be based on local tests, which would have to be developed by each school system. After two years, 25 percent would be based on the state exams and 15 percent would come from the local tests.

The remainder of the evaluation will come from observations from principals and other teachers, and other measures. If teachers are rated ineffective for two consecutive years, they would face firing through an expedited hearing process that must conclude within 60 days. Currently hearings can drag on for several months.

NY did not win in round 1 of RTTT. Next deadline is June 1 so this new NY state education – union agreement comes just in time. No immediate impact on pay, but teachers will be categorized as highly effective, effective, developing and ineffective each year instead of the current system of satisfactory/unsatisfactory.

They’re not totally clear, home free yet. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Collective Bargaining, EDUCATION

Today in WTF

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill targeting a school district’s ethnic studies program, hours after a report by United Nations human rights experts condemned the measure.

State schools chief Tom Horne, who has pushed the measure for years, said Tuesday that a Tucson school district program promotes “ethnic chauvinism” and racial resentment toward whites while segregating students by race.

“It’s just like the old South, and it’s long past time that we prohibited it,” Horne said.

How many things are wrong with this? First, let’s state the obvious, ethnic STUDIES in no way equal to SLAVERY.

Second, his reasoning:
Horne said he believes the Mexican-American studies program teaches Latino students that they are oppressed by white people. Public schools should not be encouraging students to resent a particular race, he said.

No, but your local media sure can, and so can your state government, all within “reasonable suspicion” of course.

The district is 56 percent Hispanic, with nearly 31,000 Latino students.

Filed under: Color, EDUCATION, WTF

Web Tech in the Classroom

Because most of the focus on integrating Web technology into the classroom remains at the secondary school level…projects such as this one are relatively uncommon. But with the advent of programs like Gmail and Skype, the increased prevalence of webcams and laptops in schools, and the freedom to teach multiple subjects at once, elementary school may be the ideal place to use Web conferencing in a way that has an impact.

Article notes that fear of technology and lack of curricular flexibility are also barriers to integration.

But with a troubled economy that can result in cuts to activities like assemblies and field trips, some educators are using Web conferencing to replicate events as simple as an author’s visit.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: EDUCATION, TECHNOLOGY

School Design

Re-thinking the school corridor:

The factory model of control and direct instruction still pervades most new schools. If we are to have thorough-going school reform, we must change the design model, too, starting with the place students first enter the school.

Roughly one-third of the typical school building is used not for learning, growing, or interacting, but for getting to the places where that happens.

Filed under: Design, EDUCATION

On Teaching

Picking up a red pen will make you grade more harshly.

And on greatness in general, via TFA:

The two best metrics of previous success tend to be grade-point average and “leadership achievement”—a record of running something and showing tangible results. If you not only led a tutoring program but doubled its size, that’s promising.

Meanwhile, reflectiveness and/or a master’s degree in education seem to have no impact but scoring high in “life satisfaction” does.

These are Teach For America-based findings. The use of data is significant but Teach For America is very much a product and poster child of the current high stakes testing environment. I would take how they define a great teacher and what they view as success in the classroom into consideration. Also, the success indicators uncovered here seem largely like indicators of success in any field, not just in teaching specifically.

Filed under: EDUCATION

Touchpad Predictions in Education

By 2015, more than 50 percent of children 15 and under will be using touchscreen PCs…2014, 25 percent of textbooks will be digital.

At the university level, digital textbooks are definitely in the near future. At public school level, not so much. Rest assured that if/when the day comes, any book sellers slow to e-convert will take the issue to fight.

In terms of touchscreen PCs, the quote is misleading. The cited prediction is based on PURCHASED PCs, not on all children under 15. Far from it, as few children under 15 will have purchased PCs in the near future. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: EDUCATION, TECHNOLOGY

A Rhode Island Proposal

According to a 66-page report released Monday by the business-backed Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, which analyzes government spending.

Continue to focus on improving elementary and secondary schools, using as a guide the state’s new Basic Education Plan

Cut costs. This could include regional collaborations, cost-sharing and controlling growth in teachers’ benefits.

Implement a statewide school financing formula.

Use data to raise student achievement and ensure districts are spending money wisely and getting results.

Rhode Island ranks fifth nationally in per-pupil expenditure while yielding mediocre test results and achievements levels significantly lower than the rest of New England. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Contingency Plans, EDUCATION

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Collective Bargaining, EDUCATION, Policies & Agendas

Firing Practices

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers talked tea-bagging with Bill Maher until the conversation veered into teacher firing territory. Maher put her on the spot with a few data points:

3 out of 30,000 teachers were fired last year in New York
11 out of 43,000 in Los Angeles
0.1% in Chicago
0 in Akron

A summary of the encounter here, along with incisive apprehension of – Her most effective point: As ornery as Bill Maher is about bad teachers, good teachers (who educate alongside the bad teachers) are orders of magnitude more pissed off.

Good Magazine in general has an excellent round-up on education today. From mass-firing in a Georgia high school: Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Collective Bargaining, EDUCATION

Jail Themes – the School to Prison Pipeline

Reports about a jail-themed playground in Bed-Stuy called to mind a public school I once encountered in New Orleans where students were outfitted in expressly prison orange uniforms.

The school to prison pipeline, which links school discipline policy and prison ranks, is of national significance but probably most telling in post-Katrina New Orleans. This report is from 2006, but describes the situation well:

…lack of resources and the failure to provide quality education, combined with overly harsh and punitive discipline policies that criminalize and exclude youth from traditional education settings – has created what many now call the School-to-Prison Pipeline…

Historical inequities, such as segregated education, concentrated poverty, and racial disparities in law enforcement, all feed the pipeline.

Other things that feed the pipeline include the entire economy of police, guards, other professions kept afloat in the prison industrial complex.

Filed under: EDUCATION, Policies & Agendas