Wednesday, May 25, 2011

School Tech Connect: Illinois Is Going Down A Very Bad Road

School Tech Connect: Illinois Is Going Down A Very Bad Road

Illinois Is Going Down A Very Bad Road

I'd love to write about something else other than trouble, but we're now fighting for our lives here in Illinois. I don't have the backstory, but apparently they're going to get a pension-killing bill out of committee tomorrow.

If you don't get back on the phone tomorrow morning--- at the start of the day--- then in my humble opinion you should go directly into a no-match 401k.

Out where I'm working, we got organized, and faxed out 263 individual letters to our representatives and to members of the pension committee. This is from just one building, mind you. I expect to double that number tomorrow, and I'm going to recommend that we follow-up with phone messages, as well as a faxed, group-signed message to the governor.

Somewhere on the pension committee, there's at least one Democrat who has flipped and is working with Madigan to destroy public education. Whoever this person is, he or she is about to earn a very motivated, very organized, very socially networked campaigner who will work for almost anyone willing to primary the pension-busters.

I'd really like to know what goes on down in a place like Plainfield, where Tom Cross is from (Cross is apparently the person pulling the strings here). I mean, at some point, there are almost certainly people in this organization that voted for Cross-- and that's their right. Are these people accepting the extra responsibility that comes

What happened to Texas math achievement and where will it go? « A "Fuller" Look at Education Issues

What happened to Texas math achievement and where will it go? « A "Fuller" Look at Education Issues

What happened to Texas math achievement and where will it go?

The best indicator of a state’s progress in math and reading are the results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). This is considered the “gold-standard” of tests. The assessments include some multiple choice tests, but also include many open-response items that require students to show their work and arrive at the correct answer rather than eliminating choices on multiple-choice items.

Texas made tremendous gains on the NAEP mathematics tests in the 1990s, especially the 4th grade mathematics test. Indeed, Texas was repeatedly singled out as a leader in education reform because of these large gains. Grissmer and Flanagan (1999) studied Texas and determined that reduced class sizes, business community support, and an accountability system that disaggregated scores by race/ethnicity and student socio-economic status were largely responsible for these gains. At the Brookings Institute symposium on statewide progress, Dr.Uri Treisman and I (2000) also argued that the increased equity in the school finance system also helped drive improvement.

But what happened since then? Are we still making progress? Commissioner Robert Scott often touts that our students are ranked at or near the top of their peers when compared to other states in the nation. Indeed, this is

The Deep Pockets Behind Education Reform - E.D. Kain - American Times - Forbes

The Deep Pockets Behind Education Reform - E.D. Kain - American Times - Forbes

The Deep Pockets Behind Education Reform

Betsy DeVos with supporter

Betsy DeVos with supporter (Image via Wikipedia)

Zaid Jilani has a long piece up on the deep pockets influencing education reform. Jilani argues that the money being spent by a host of billionaires and education reform philanthropic organizations is having a pernicious influence on the education reform debate, and is leading toward the privatization of public schools.

This rapid expansion of voucher programs — which undermine and undercut public education by funnelling taxpayer money to private schools — is remarkable. After all, vouchers have been unpopular with the American public. Between 1966 and 2000, vouchers were put up for a vote in states 25 times, and voters rejected the program 24 of those times.

Certainly vouchers remain unpopular across the American electorate, as Jilani points out, whereas charters have

Shanker Blog » The High Cost Of Caring

Shanker Blog » The High Cost Of Caring

The High Cost Of Caring

The field of early childhood education (ECE) is riddled with contradictions. Bluntly, when those we love the most—our children—are at the most consequential stage of their cognitive, social, and emotional development, we leave them in the hands of the people we pay the least. According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, for example, childcare workers earn about 4 percent less than animal caretakers—$20,940 and $21,830 per year, respectively.

I am far from the first to make this embarrassing comparison; more than a decade ago, Marci Whitebookprovided an extensive overview. Unfortunately, the comparisons still hold.

Over the intervening years, there have been many determined efforts to regulate and improve the working conditions of early childhood educators, including raising the qualifications and wages for the profession. Indeed, the demand for worthy salaries is often discussed in combination with workforce development efforts. In other words, we want early childhood workers to be both better trained and better paid. While this may seem to be a

House vote on Senate Bill 512 at 9AM Thursday morning. Call now. « Fred Klonsky's blog

House vote on Senate Bill 512 at 9AM Thursday morning. Call now. « Fred Klonsky's blog

House vote on Senate Bill 512 at 9AM Thursday morning. Call now.

Early Wednesday word was circulating that Tom Cross and Mike Madigan didn’t have the votes to move the pension bill out of committee. All committee meetings listed on the House schedule had been cancelled through Friday.

Then by late afternoon everything had changed.

According to Greg Hinz at Crains, a House vote is now scheduled for 9AM Thursday morning.

Calls are urgently requested.

Greg Hinz:

Under the proposal as filed by House Republican Leader Tom Cross, workers covered by five state pension plans and various municipal retirement systems would keep all benefits they have earned to date but pay far more for benefits accrued in the future. Or they could pay less but get less than than they do today.

A spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, who has talked regularly to Mr. Cross about the bill, said he believes the bill has the speaker’s support.

“I think we’ve made a lot of progress on pensions in the past couple of years,” the spokesman said. “We are going farther in that direction.”

Specifically, workers who were on the payroll before this year would have one of three choices.

1) Stay in the current system, but contribute 3.75% to 8% more as a share of salary, depending on the system. Judges would pay 23% more as a share of salary. The employer contribution generally would remain at 6% of salary. Employee figures would be adjusted after three years.

2) Accept the same sort of reduced benefits and higher retirement ages that were mandated for new workers hired after Jan. 1. In exchange, workers would contribute about what they do now, generally 6% or 7% of pay.

3) Enter a self-managed pension plan that would work much like a 401(k). Each side would contribute 6% of pay.

Overall, the proposal resembles one first advanced by the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club, a big business group. In addition to the state workers and teachers statewide, it could cover non-sworn Chicago employees — not police or firefighters — plus most workers for Cook County, Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Park District.

Unions are strongly opposed.

“Teachers, police and other public employees work hard and play by the rules, but now the politicians want to change those rules and tell public employees they lost the game,” said a statement from AFSCME. “It’s the politicians who for years recklessly neglected to make contributions required by law.”

Proponents of the measure say that, rightly or not, the state no longer can afford to incur pension debt at the current rate, given the more than $60 billion in unfunded liability in the state’s employee pension funds.

One big question that is unanswered so far is how much transition costs would be for switching to a new system. That has been a big concern of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. But the city is included in the bill, so I presume that matter has been resolved.

With the support of Mr. Madigan and Mr. Cross, the bill seems likely to pass the House. But while Senate President John Cullerton reportedly has agreed to allow the bill to come for a vote in his chamber, he says reducing pensions for those already on the payroll would violate the Illinois Constitution.

The measure, SB 512, is scheduled to come up for a vote in a House committee at 9 a.m. on Thursday.

An Urban Teacher's Education: Revisiting My Blogging Methods and Purpose

An Urban Teacher's Education: Revisiting My Blogging Methods and Purpose

Revisiting My Blogging Methods and Purpose

It has recently come to my attention that I may not be representing myself accurately on this blog. People who know me in real life have recently suggested that my writing here is significantly more angry and vitriolic than they'd expect. This concerns me.

It is true that I am angry, disgusted, and horrified by a lot of what I learn about education politics. On the other hand, I try desperately to keep an open mind. I continually attack my own beliefs (in my head) and try to consider others' arguments. However, it may be the case that the tone I often take on this blog gives first-time readers the wrong impression about who I am and what I stand for.

There seems to be something unique about the act of blogging in that the entirety blog (especially blogs that have any sort of personal tone to them) often provides necessary context for individual posts. There are some

Big Education Ape: 5-25-11 PM Sec. Duncan on Twitter - Really @arneduncan Edition

Big Education Ape: Ed News Now


Big Education Ape: Ed News Now

Published by Coopmike48 – 5 contributors today



Money and L.A. Unified - latimes.com

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DianeRavitch

Bill Gates: Selling Bad Advice to the Public Schools

thedailybeast.com - Everyone agrees that American schools need help. But as Diane Ravitch argues, the fixes proposed by billionaire savior Bill Gates will only makes things worse. Over the weekend, the New York Times ...
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Chicago Shopping

chicagotribune.com - By Noreen Ahmed-Ullah Tribune reporter 11:04 a.m. CDT, May 25, 2011 Community activists used today’s meeting at which Jean-Claude Brizard was to be approved to head Chicago Public Schools to advoca...
fklonsky

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