October 21, 2014
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614-227-3071 or 614-378-0469
OEA welcomes the introduction of legislation to delay the use of high-stakes decisions based on student test scores
Columbus – The Ohio Education Association (OEA) today applauded the introduction of House Bill 642 by Representative Teresa Fedor, D-Toledo. The bill calls for a 3-year suspension of high-stakes decisions based on student test scores in measuring student growth and evaluating teacher performance.
“As Senator Peggy Lehner, the chair of the Senate Education Committee, has noted – ‘we are over-testing our kids’,” said OEA President Becky Higgins. “We urge state lawmakers to hit the pause button and determine which tests are actually needed and which are also appropriate for the grade level at which they’re being administered.”
OEA believes that with the use of the new Common Core standards in Ohio schools and the prospect of even more tests being conducted, it is important to take more time to make sure the implementation of these standards goes well.
“We’ve seen what has happened in other states where the hasty implementation of Common Core and the related testing has led to a backlash among parents, students and educators,” continued OEA President Higgins. “We support Ohio’s New Learning Standards, but we want to make sure Ohio gets it right. That’s why we think taking the time to ‘test the tests’ would be a prudent course to follow.”
Last spring, OEA members voted unanimously at their Representative Assembly to support the 3-year delay in the use of high-stakes decisions based on student test results. OEA is pleased that 18 co-sponsors have already signed on in support of Representative Fedor‘s bill.
“We recognize the need for a comprehensive assessment of student growth. But student assessments should not be overly-dependent on the results of standardized tests, “said Higgins. “Students are spending too much time preparing for and taking tests. There needs to be a more balanced approach to identifying the strengths and needs of students.”
The Ohio Education Association represents 121,000 teachers, faculty members and support professionals in Ohio's public schools, colleges and universities.
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Ohio Education Association
Columbus OH 43216
614-227-3071 = www.ohea.org
|October 21, 2014|
The New York Times (10/21, Harris, Subscription Publication) reports that the New York State Board of Regents have given preliminary support to ?a major change to high school graduation requirements? which would let students ?earn their diplomas with one fewer test if they pass another assessment in a range of subjects like languages, the arts, hospitality management and carpentry.? Currently, students must pass tests in English, math, and science, as well as two separate social studies tests. The new requirement would allow students to replace one of the social studies tests. The Times quotes Commissioner John B. King saying, ?The idea is really to ensure we have a system that honors students? passions about different areas of study. We?ve got a significant chunk of students who aren?t finishing, and there?s an opportunity here to make high school a more compelling place for them.?
The Wall Street Journal (10/19, Brody, Subscription Publication) also covers this story, noting that students could replace the second social studies test with a test in a number of CTE and arts subjects, and indicates that backers of the plan say it will improve students? interests in staying in school and will boost their post-graduation job prospects.
The Pensacola (FL) News Journal (10/20) reports that teachers in Escambia County, Florida are receiving some $64,000 in grants from the Escambia County Public Schools Foundation to support STEM projects, including rocketry, publishing, and other subjects. The article reports that Superintendent Malcolm Thomas ?said the foundation grants go to fund the types of projects that benefit students but can?t fit in the school board?s budget.?
The Washington Post (10/21, Anderson) reports that Rice University has ?launched a free Advanced Placement biology course? on the edX massive open online course platform Monday, calling it ?a potentially significant milestone for a movement that aims to bring college-level courses to high school students.? The course is ?the first MOOC on the site advertised as an AP course for high school students.?
Education Week (10/22, Flanigan) reports on better individual instruction afforded by regular adaptive testing, which offers more specific data on student performance than traditional testing. With some assessments catered toward math and others toward reading and writing proficiency, the programs offer preferred learning methods and environments to students; further, algorithms have evolved to track metacognitive skills such as confidence and students? abilities to reflect on material. Such testing is being used by 22 states in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium with substantial improvements. The piece surveys the success in various schools around the country before closing on calls for more advanced diagnostics based on adaptive test performance.
The Huffington Post (10/21, Lachman) reports that frustrations with Colorado?s conservative Jefferson County School Board, which erupted in protests over Common Core opposition centralized around new AP US History curricular guidelines, are swaying the opinions of Republican voters. The piece provides an overview of the competitive state elections and local controversies, featuring extensive quotes from a ?moderately conservative,? non-practicing lawyer who is a mother of two, frustrated with the board?s ?narrow-minded agenda.? The article also establishes connections between the new school board members and Americans For Prosperity, the nonprofit headed by Charles and David Koch. The article criticizes ?the board?s lack of transparency and tone-deaf agenda? while highlighting the history of the state and Jefferson County to mirror each others votes.
The Washington Post (10/20, Chandler) reports on DC?s new Youth Reengagement Center in Northeast Washington, dedicated to helping young high school dropouts earn a diploma or GED. The piece cites the issue?s economic impact, particularly on young black males. The District is home to at least 7,493 high school dropouts between ages 16 and 24, or roughly 14% of the city?s residents within that age group. The reengagement center has six full-time employees, a $473,000 annual budget, and computers for job applications and educational games; the program is modeled after similar programs in Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago. The program also includes a full year with a case manager. The piece closes on the increasing success of one enrolled man.
CNN?s Money (10/20, CNNMoney) reports in three years, Chicago public high schools will require foundational computer science courses, with at least 50% of high schools offering AP computer science within five years. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the initiative in December, aimed at offering more professional opportunities to the schools? predominately low-income black and Hispanic students. Code.org, which partnered with Chicago to incorporate computer science into 25 elementary school curricula, says Chicago?s is the most comprehensive of 25 states to count advanced computer science toward math or science credit. This summer 150 teachers from roughly 30 high schools, 20 middle schools, and 20 elementary schools, took professional development courses to better incorporate computer science into classrooms.
The Atlantic (10/21, Khazan) reports that counter to national trends, schools in Lincoln, Nebraska haven?t seen a drop in school lunch participation as the schools there move to healthier lunch offerings. The schools offer a vegetarian meal, multiple fruits and vegetables, and whole grains on the lunch menu in the middle of ?beef loving Nebraska.? The shift is part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act law and the Let?s Move initiative and has won a Golden Carrot award from the Physicians Committee.
US News & World Report (10/20, The Hechinger Report) reports the College Board is developing new guidelines for AP science and history courses, covering fewer topics in an effort to align with the Common Core?s emphasis on critical thinking. The piece outlines national hostility to Common Core over the perception of liberal bias in education. Calls to revise the AP programs followed a 2013 Dartmouth College Psychology Department study, in which 90 of 100 students who received a perfect score on the AP Psychology exam failed the school?s introductory course?s final exam; Dartmouth no longer offers AP credit to high scoring students.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune (10/21, Dreilinger) reports Louisiana State Superintendent John White announced Monday that public school report cards will be released on Tuesday and teacher evaluations on Wednesday in a state where ?much is at stake.? A score of ?ineffective? for teachers puts them first in line for layoffs while school performance scores will determine if schools are taken over by the state, whether students can apply for private vouchers, and whether charter schools will remain open.
KCAL-TV Los Angeles (10/20, CBS) reports the Los Angeles Unified School District School Board voted unanimously to reinstate 82-year-old interim Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines for his third term. Cortines intends to ?hit the ground running,? adding ?there is no ?interim? in my title.? The board is expected to ratify Cortines? contract Tuesday, awarding him the title of Superintendent through June 30, 2015 with a salary of $300,000. Former Superintendent John Deasy, who replaced Cortines in 2011, will remain on special assignment with the district until December 31. The piece outlines Deasy?s clashes with unions and the board before closing on Cortines? history and pledge address the MiSiS scheduler issues through teamwork.
LATimes Publishes Responses To Deasy?s Resignation. The Los Angeles Times (10/21) features readers? reactions to Deasy?s removal. The first calls for transparency and collaboration in the selection of a new superintendent, with criticisms of the district?s ?punitive, uncollaborative culture.? The second criticizes the board for having ?caved to the teachers union...enabling the status quo.? A third criticizes Deasy?s response to the MiSiS controversy as a ?mind-boggling dereliction of duty,? while the fourth argues technology and assessments won?t enhance the learning process at the expense of strong teachers, small classes, and the arts.
The AP (10/21, AP) reports the Oklahoma State Department of Education is set to host its next town hall meeting to provide information about the academic standards that public schools will use during the next two years until new standards are developed, and about how the recent loss of the No Child Left Behind Act waiver could affect local schools. The piece lists the times and locations of the meetings, as well as those coming in the weeks ahead.
The AP (10/21, Murphy) reports both Republican and Democratic contenders for Oklahoma?s superintendency both support raises for teachers and testing reductions. Democratic nominee John Cox would immediately push for an increase in pay from $31,600 to $35,000, while Republican Joy Hofmeister said she would address pay as part of an eight-year plan. The piece details their comments on over-testing and the progress of their campaigns; Hofmeister has reported raising $616,000 while Cox has raised roughly $300,000.
THE Journal (10/20, Bolkan) reports Iowa?s Simpson College will offer 17 continuing education courses online for preK-12 teachers through Learner?s Edge, a private partner. The professional development courses will cover teaching students with autism, new perspectives on homework, cultural competency, learning to learn, student engagement, and dealing with difficult parents or situations, among other topics. The three-credit courses each cost $405. The programs intend to address the changing nature of education.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (10/21, Bloom) reports Deerwood Academy teacher Margaret Merkerson, who testified in the Atlanta Public Schools racketeering trial that she wore plastic gloves when altering Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests, stated former assistant principal Tabeeka Jordan had instructed a testing coordinator to instruct her to change answers; the testimony was refuted as conflicting with May 2012 statements in which Merkerson did not name who had been orchestrating the cheating. Merkerson had struck an immunity deal with investigators. Testimony further described an atmosphere incentivizing cheating, with testimony from reading instructional specialist Tabitha Martin. Later this week, prosecutors will focus on allegations against educators at two other schools: Kennedy Middle and Venetian Hills Elementary.
In a post on the Bloomberg (10/20) ?Politics? blog, David Weigel writes that in the wake of Zephyr Teachout?s ?surprisingly potent primary challenge to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo,? and polling pointing to waning Democratic support for the Common Core Standards, Cuomo is now running a general election TV ad in which he vows ?not to use Common Core scores for at least five years, and then only if our children are ready.? Weigel calls this an indication of the ?dizzying downward spiral? the standards have endured in the state.
The Triangle (NC) Time Warner Cable News (10/21) reports that North Carolina?s Academic Standards Review Commission ?has started the process of modifying the state?s Common Core Standards,? noting that the group began looking over the state?s English language arts standards on Monday and will ?analyze the math standards at their next meeting.?
The Palm Beach (FL) Post (10/20) reports that tea party groups and other Common Core opponents are ?looking to fire up support for Republican Gov. Rick Scott in the homestretch of the governor?s race,? noting that Florida Parents Against Common Core has sent out a mass email urging supporters to vote for Scott. The article notes that Common Core opponents have ?been ambivalent about Scott,? who has ?generally supported? Common Core-aligned testing in the state. The group has painted rival Charlie Crist as an enthusiastic backer of the Common Core Standards.
GeekWire (10/21) reports on the use of blended learning and other classroom technology concepts in Seattle?s public schools, noting that the flood of ?tech products for schools? has raised questions about how best to use such utilities. To address such issues, ?a budding ecosystem of teachers and technologists are continually building and refining tools that thoughtfully support learning.? The article notes that a coalition of Washington state districts, including Seattle, called the Road Map Consortium is ?one of only two applicants to receive the maximum $40 million Race to the Top grant ($5 million alone is allocated for digital STEM ? science, technology, engineering, math ? tools with additional funds for early childhood and college readiness).?
Alyson Klein writes at the Education Week (10/21) ?Politics K-12? blog that Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) is following through on his pledge to take ?formal legal? action against ED ?over the issue of testing of English-language learners,? noting that he has not filed a lawsuit, but has written to Education Secretary Arne Duncan ?requesting a hearing on the issue before the Office of the Administrative Law Judges, which deals with government agencies.? Klein explains that a recent Florida law ?would allow schools to delay counting the test results of English-learners for accountability purposes until those students have had at least two years of classroom instruction.? However, NCLB mandates that this period be no more than one year. Florida ?sought to include the change in its application for an extension of its NCLB waiver,? but ED ?said it couldn?t approve the change to ELL testing.?
An NPR (10/20) ?StateImpact? piece profiles Althea Valle, the English for Speakers of Other Languages coordinator for the school district in Leon County, Florida, who says that most non-native English speakers ?need three to five years of language instruction before they can be proficient on standardized assessments.? The article describes the impasse between the state and ED, noting that ?Florida is being told its waiver is in jeopardy because the test scores of ELLs should count toward a school?s overall grade ? and teacher evaluations ? after just one year of instruction.? The article concludes by noting that Scott ?has asked Secretary Duncan to designate the Office of Administrative Law Judges to conduct a hearing into the matter.?
The AP (10/20) reports the four candidates for South Dakota?s open US Senate seat have expressed different ways in which they would approach the nation?s education policy. Republican Mike Rounds said that he wants to dismantle the US Department of Education, Independent Gordon Howie said he would fight the Common Core standards, Independent Larry Pressler said he wanted to increase higher education spending including money for research and affordable loans, and Democrat Rick Weiland said that he wants to expand access to preschool education.
The Philadelphia Public Schools Notebook (10/20, Hardy) reports Pennsylvania?s school funding formula allocates money for special education students in public schools based on an assumed percentage of special education students within the population, while charter schools are allocated money based on the actual percentage of total enrollment. An ASBO study last year estimated that charter schools are receiving $200 million for special education students ?that was not spent on services for them,? a claim ?hotly disputed? by charter proponents. A legislative commission has recommended that the school?s funding for special ed services be based on the actual number of students with needs and setting funding levels at three tiers based on severity of a child?s disability.
On its front page, the Wall Street Journal (10/21, Fields, Emshwiller, Subscription Publication) reports in depth on a shift in educational discipline practices, wherein issues that used to be resolved by schools are increasingly being referred to law enforcement, resulting in arrests and criminal charges for teens. The Journal details instances in which teens have been referred to law enforcement, and highlights the long-lasting adverse effects that such legal issues can have for students. Ronald Davis, head of the Justice Department?s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, is quoted as saying that school police officers should not criminalize childish behavior.
The Dallas Morning News (10/21, Writer) reports that administrators in Dallas were surprised when four of the five local students ?who were quarantined after having contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, who died from Ebola, showed to Dallas ISD schools on Monday,? noting that Superintendent Mike Miles ?said Monday morning that the students would return Tuesday.? The article quotes Miles saying on Monday, ?We are happy to have our kids back in our schools. Our students are now clear, which means they do not have the virus.? The AP (10/21) reports that the students were ?cleared by health authorities? after having ?completed their 21-day monitoring period as of midnight Sunday.?
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (10/21) reports that Atlanta Public Schools officials are urging parents to ?contact their physician or closest health facility if they, their child or any family member experiences any symptoms of Ebola.? Meanwhile, the piece notes that DeKalb County school officials last week ?announced that new students from Ebola-affected West African countries would be limited from classes on school campuses? until cleared by health officials and the local superintendent.
WKZO-AM Kalamazoo, MI (10/20) reports online that Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette ?is promoting the state?s new OK2SAY school violence tip line,? saying that it was ?inspired by one created in Colorado after the Columbine attacks.? The article quotes Schuette saying, ?The point here is to try to stop violence in schools before it occurs. It?s a...way to call in, or e-mail, or text, or go to a website. An 800 number. You?ve maybe heard that someone might commit an act of violence, or maybe harm himself or herself...you use the OK2SAY app.?
The AP (10/21) reports that the Kentucky Youth Bullying Prevention Task Force, set up by Gov. Steve Beshear in September, will meet for the first time this week, noting that Beshear ?says he expects the group to find solutions to make schools safer and free of bullying and harassment.? The article explains that the panel ?will analyze existing laws and policies as well as interview school professionals, victims and other experts? to develop a set of recommendations due in November 2015.
The AP (10/21, Foody) reports education finance and state budget experts ?aren?t so certain? that Democrat challenger for Georgia?s governor seat Jason Carter?s plan for a separate state education budget will insure that education is adequately funded and increased every year. Experts point out that no other state is using a model exactly like Carters and the ones that have similar set ups are ?nowhere near the top in national education rankings.? Carter argues that his plan will ?remove political cover? from state politicians making cuts to education funding by eliminating the all-encompassing budgets.
The AP (10/21, Kinnard) reports both South Carolina superintendent candidates, Republican Molly Spearman and Democrat Tom Thompson, support restructuring school funding guidelines in a more equitable way. Spearman stressed the need to pressure lawmakers away from one-time funding toward a more steady, local solution, while Thompson favors a funding model to capitalize on the wealth brought to the state by large corporations. Spearman agreed with Thompson and added the current funding model is outdated. With respect to Common Core, Spearman stressed the importance of state-approved standards; Thompson defended the Federal government and stated his review of academic standards would be collaborative. Spearman responded by stating she had already begun reviewing current standards.
|October 20, 2014|
The Washington Post (10/17, Wiggins, Layton) reports in continuing coverage that Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy resigned last week, noting that his departure ended ?a tumultuous tenure that included battles with the teachers union and rifts with the school board.? Noting that Ramon Cortines, Deasy?s predecessor, will take over the district on an interim basis, the Post reports that Education Secretary Arne Duncan ?expressed ?disappointment? that Deasy was resigning,? and ?lauded Deasy for his accomplishments in the past 3 1/2 years, including overseeing higher graduation rates, fewer student suspensions and ?a record number? of students taking Advanced Placement classes.? The Post further quotes Duncan saying that Deasy has ?an unwavering commitment to doing what?s right for kids, and I am hopeful that the next superintendent of LAUSD can continue to build on the progress that the district has seen under John?s leadership. We simply cannot afford to see improvements in student achievement slow down or stall in the nation?s second-largest school district.?
The Los Angeles Times (10/17, Blume, Rainey) reports that Deasy?s departure ?leaves school district leaders with the daunting task of mending broken relationships with employees, especially teachers, while stoking a continued upswing in student achievement.? The article points out the ?friction? between Deasy and the school board over ?a pair of technology debacles ? the troubled rollout of a plan to provide an iPad for every student and teacher, and the breakdown of a records system that left thousands of students without needed classes at the start of the school year.? The article reports that the board?s decision to call on Cortines to take the reins ?signaled a desire to restore equilibrium...after enervating battles over issues like discipline, teacher evaluations and in-class breakfasts for students.? This article also mentions Duncan?s statement of disappointment over Deasy?s departure.
Valerie Strauss writes about Deasy?s tenure and eventual departure in a Washington Post (10/18) ?Answer Sheet? blog post likening his story to a movie with a ?ridiculous? plot.
Analysis: Deasy?s ?Maverick Moments? Prompted Board To Push Him Out. An analysis in the Los Angeles Times (10/19, Blume) describes the ?heap of trouble? when LAUSD ?rolled out a new student records system? that led to widespread scheduling problems that prevented students from being enrolled in the classes they needed. The Times reports that Deasy ?came up with a novel response,? and ?prepared a sworn statement in a court case that attacked scheduling practices in L.A. Unified and other districts? without the board?s knowledge. The paper reports that this ?irked? board members, who ?had endured enough of his maverick moments? and reached out to Cortines to recruit him to return to the superintendent role.
Columnist: Deasy Failed To Adapt To Changes In City?s Education Environment. In a column in the Los Angeles Times (10/17), Sandy Banks writes that Deasy ?promised that in five years, he?d make Los Angeles a showcase for school reform,? but ?the world around him shifted and he could not ? or would not ? adapt.? Banks cites the departure of ?hard-charging ?education mayor?? Antonio Villaraigosa, changes in the makeup of the school board, and the teachers union?s ?tough new leader and an uncompromising agenda.?
WPost: Deasy?s Forced Resignation Illustrates How Politics Overcome Results In School Systems. The Washington Post (10/18) editorializes that John Deasy?s resignation as Los Angeles school chief is ?a vivid demonstration of how political interests trump results when it comes to America?s broken schools.? The Post says Deasy ?is gone because neither the school board nor the city?s political leadership were willing to...support...a superintendent who made student interests his first priority.?
The AP (10/19, Hefling) reports the Obama Administration is ?pushing ahead with an improvement plan that gives? Native American tribes ?more control? over ?federally owned schools? on reservations. The AP says these schools ?are marked by remoteness, extreme poverty and a lack of construction dollars,? which contribute to them being ?among the nation?s lowest performing.? The executive director of the national Indian Education Association, Ahniwake Rose, ?said her organization is cautiously optimistic, partly out of appreciation that [President] Obama is seemingly engaged.?
The New York Times (10/18, Subscription Publication) says that while New York?s Administration ?is right when it says that every school can?t be small one,? the ?clear benefits that have accrued to the city?s most vulnerable students? through smaller schools means the state ?should not shy away from the option of shutting down big schools and remaking them from scratch.?
The Helena (MT) Independent Record (10/18, Deedy) continued coverage of how Dava Newman of MIT has been nominated by President Obama to be the next NASA Deputy Administrator. According to the article, Newman ?certainly? expects to be an advocate for science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEM) education, as well as ?incorporating the field of commercial space travel and moving toward NASA?s long range goal of sending astronauts to Mars.?
Blog Coverage. Mark Whittington at the Examiner (10/19) writes that there has so far been ?widespread approval? for Newman?s nomination, although it is questionable when the Senate will hold a hearing on it. According to Whittington, Newman would be a ?change? from Lori Garver, who last held the post and was known as a ?political intrigue artist.?
In an op-ed for the New York Times (10/20, Baraka, Subscription Publication), Ras J. Baraka, Mayor of Newark, writes that the New Jersey Department of Education took over the city?s schools in 1995, but it is now ?clear that the state has failed on all counts.? He says that ?local control must be returned to Newark?s public schools immediately.?
The New York Times (10/17, Mueller, Subscription Publication) reports New York state issued guidance on enrollment procedures for several schools on Long Island accused of barring dozens of Hispanic children from attending. An immigrant group reported that the Hempstead Union Free School District was telling immigrant children that there would not be enough space to accommodate them and having the students sign in for attendance at school a few mornings each week before they were sent home for the remainder of the day. Local officials are currently deciding on how to handle the situation and estimate that students will be able to start classes as early as next week.
The New York Times (10/20, Jensen, Subscription Publication) reports Sesame Workshop, which produces ?Sesame Street? and ToyTalk, a children?s speech recognition company, will announce Monday they have signed a two-year research partnership. The researcher will focus on how to use conversational technology to teach literacy to preschoolers. Products from the agreement could be available early next year.
An opinion piece in The Hill (10/20, BarnardM.d.) ?Congress Blog? by President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine Neal Barnard, M.d., advocates for nutritional improvements to school lunches. He encourages school districts to reduce foods that have been linked to health problems and to move towards completely plant-based meals.
The AP (10/20, Ballentine) reports on limited public support for Missouri Constitutional Amendment 3, which would base a majority of teachers? evaluations on student performance data and limit tenure by reducing teaching contracts to three years. State educator groups and the Committee in Support of Public Education have raised over $1.8 million to fight the amendment, appearing on the November ballot. Critics argue the amendment would force teachers to ?teach to the test,? remove local control over how teachers were evaluated, and be difficult to adjust. Missouri is the only state to propose such a constitutional measure. If approved, it would take effect in July 2015.
The Sacramento (CA) Bee (10/20) reports on the ?intensifying battle? for California state Superintendent, noting that while this is usually a ?low-key...down-ballot? race, ?issues at the center of a national conflict over the direction of public education? are raising the race?s profile. The article explores the impact of the Vergara v. California ruling which overturned the state?s teacher tenure laws, and reports that challenger Marshall Tuck?s ?aggressive attacks? on incumbent Superintendent Tom Torlakson ?have put Torlakson on the defensive.?
WSJournal: Tuck Raising Ire Of Unions. In an editorial, the Wall Street Journal (10/20, Subscription Publication) says that trouble is developing between California?s Democratic Party and its traditional allies, the public employee unions, over the election for state schools superintendent. Charter-school booster Marshall Tuck (D) is challenging incumbent Tom Torlakson (D), a backer of the status-quo, after the two were the top finishers in the open primary. While the Party and the unions are backing the incumbent, Gov. Jerry Brown has so far stayed out of the race, and the Journal hopes he backs Tuck.
The Philadelphia Inquirer (10/20, Graham) reports the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers has countered the School Reform Commission?s attempts to cancel their contract by requesting an injunction on changes to its members? healthcare plans and filing a motion to transfer the case to a lower court, which would dismiss the state Department of Education from the dispute. The PFT contends the Education Department does not have a role in the ?employee-employer dispute? and that the SRC ?forum-shopped? to the Commonwealth Court to include the Education Department, rather than file in Common Pleas Court. Bargaining between the two groups ended with a PFT contract proposal submitted July 1. The recent developments follow a day after a protest including over 3,000 supporters, with threats of more disruptive action if the courts don?t rule in PFT?s favor.
In a phone interview with WHYY-FM Philadelphia (10/20, McCorry), PFT president Jerry Jordan argued the courts would favor the union because ?healthcare benefits are a subject of mandatory bargaining.? The cash-strapped district has pushed the changes to healthcare in an effort to reallocate funding, already funneling $15 million into schools with another $30 million planned for distribution during the year. The union also filed several complaints with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board.
Opinion: SRC?s Contract Slam Hurts Those Most Essential. Currents writer Clark DeLeon argues in Philly (10/20, DeLeon) that the SRC?s actions are ?a Pearl Harbor-like sneak attack on organized labor.? DeLeon criticizes the private nature of the announcement and the exclusion of ?those most involved? from a decision that compromised ?the sanctity of a union contract.?
The AP (10/20) reports that a ballot proposal up for a vote on November 4 in Missouri would ?enshrine the role of student performance data in teacher evaluations in its state constitution.? The amendment would ?require a majority of teachers? evaluation scores be based on student performance data.? The article notes parenthetically that Education Secretary Arne Duncan in August said that ?too much standardized testing is ?sucking the oxygen? out of classrooms,? and that he ?gave states the chance to delay complying with a federal requirement to tie testing to teacher evaluations.?
The Greenfield (IN) Daily Reporter (10/20) reports on increasing shortages of science and math teachers in Kansas, expected among increasing retirements. A University of Kansas Center for STEM Learning study found nearly 20% of middle- and high-school math and science teachers will be eligible for retirement in three years, with an average 140 becoming eligible each year between now and 2030; Kansas will need to recruit over 200 annually to offset the losses, but only recruits 125 currently. The article also mentions the growing popularity of STEM classes among students. To help with recruitment, new state laws allow for professionals who lack traditional preparation to teach with at least five years of work experience in science or math.
The Casper (WY) Star-Tribune (10/20, Curtis) reports Wyoming?s former Superintendent of Public Instruction Jim McBride explains how the state came to adopt the Common Core standards. McBride emphasizes that the standards were adopted as part of a collaborative review by education officials at the state and local level and that there was an open comment period. He also highlights that the state was under no pressure to adopt them from the Federal government.
The Tampa Bay (FL) Times (10/20) reports in its ?The Buzz Florida Politics? blog that anti-Common Core activists are ?throwing their support? behind Florida Governor Rick Scott. The blog publishes a letter signed by Parents Against Common Core and undersigned by local leaders of the Republican party lashing out at Charlie Crist for the adoption of the standards in 2009 and urging support for the current governor.
Tampa Bay (FL) Times (10/20) reports that though Florida law doesn?t require ELL students? high-stakes test scores to be counted in accountability metrics until they have spent ?two years in language programs,? ED is ?pressing the state to include the students? scores immediately in accountability measures,? and has threatened to revoke the state?s NCLB waiver if it ?doesn?t fall in line.? In response, Florida education leaders are threatening legal action ?to protect Florida?s ELL model.?
Noting that there are over 265,000 ELL students in Florida, the AP (10/17) reports that Gov. Rick Scott is seeking a hearing from Education Secretary Arne Duncan ?on Florida?s denied request for flexibility on testing students still learning English.? The article notes that ED ?declined the state?s request regarding English language learner accountability? contained within its otherwise successful NCLB waiver application. WLRN-FM Miami (10/20) also covers this story online.
WEAR-TV Mobile, AL (10/18, 6:37 a.m. CDT) also covered this story, broadcasting that Scott ?is petitioning? Duncan for ?a hearing of the state?s denied request for flexibility on testing students who are still learning English.?
The Tacoma (WA) News Tribune (10/19) reports on the ?varying degrees of enthusiasm? meeting the return of SES tutoring for Washington state schools in the wake of the state?s loss of its NCLB waiver. While there is little demand in ?the suburban Puyallup and Bethel school districts...hundreds of Tacoma families have already signed up for tutoring slated to start in November.?
Reuters (10/19) reports seven football players at New Jersey?s Sayrevill War Memorial High School face charges of sexual abuse of four freshmen, and the head coach and four assistant coaches have been suspended from coaching and teaching positions. The charges and suspensions are the result of a hazing case against brought by the freshmen on the team who claim they were held against their will while other players touched them.
The New York Times (10/20, Schweber, Barker, Grant, Subscription Publication) reports in a 2,400 work article that the freshmen were also pushed to the ground and punched and kicked ?not viciously, but hard enough to matter? on several different incidents, resulting in the cancellation of the football season. The paper interviews several witnesses to the events, who described what they saw and elaborates on how prosecutors are going to have a difficult time muddling through the various eyewitness accounts, especially amid the backlash from students at the school.
The Hill (10/20, Barron-Lopez) reports that the EPA ?wants to help school districts better protect indoor air quality and improve energy efficiency.? On Friday ?the agency released guidance tips for schools...arguing they would help cut energy costs and promote health.? Acting assistant administrator of the agency?s Office of Air and Radiation Janet McCabe said, ?This guidance provides common-sense solutions for improving energy efficiency and indoor air quality in schools across the country.?
The Boston Globe (10/18, Laidler) reports Boston-area school leaders are ?hailing the return? of the state Legislature?s revival of the Foundation Budget Review Commission. The panel will review the state?s education budget formula to ensure that it reflects rises in costs.
The AP (10/20) reports NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia spoke this week saying that measuring a teacher?s effectiveness should not be correlated with how well students do on standardized tests. At a conference in a Salt Lake City suburb Eskelsen said, ?I?m not afraid of tests. I?m not afraid of data. I?m afraid of pretending that this test score means something that it doesn?t,? and was critical of the ?testing obsession?s? impact on education. Eskelson also highlighted during a panel discussion how policies set by non-teachers are wreaking havoc in the classroom, and urged that the conversation needed to focus less on how teachers ?can?t be trusted.?