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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Price of Teacher Retention

Badass Teachers Association:

The Price of Teacher Retention
By:  Marla Kilfoyle and Melissa Tomlinson

One the largest factors that plagues education today is how to retain teachers in “hard to staff” areas.  Research proves that the longer a teacher stays in the profession the more benefits that children have.  Veteran teachers offer many benefits to not just students but to their families and to the school community.   Experience arms teachers with strategies and resources that enable them to solve issues that our children face every day in school.  The larger question then becomes, how do we retain teachers in “hard to staff” schools?  How do we stop the revolving door so that children will benefit from stability in their school and the support from adults that they have grown to trust?

Research shows us that teachers in “easy to staff” schools stay longer.  That, certainly, should not be a surprise to anyone.  The larger issue is how do we keep teachers in the “hard to staff” schools so that our most vulnerable children have continuity and stability of adults who know their community and possibly their siblings and parents.  Here is how you retain teachers and produce stability in “hard to staff” communities. 

First, you must start in the community.  The school must be an extension of the community and the teachers that are hired in “hard to staff” areas must make a commitment to be a part of the community.  They should be mentored and supported to work beyond the normal school day. Teachers should be encouraged to coach or to  mentor a club.   It is when teachers become entrenched in a school that they develop a connection to a community and develop a desire to stay involved to help the children of the community thrive.

Research clearly shows that teachers need to feel supported.  Teachers in “hard to staff” schools need to not only have support from administrators but from other staff members.  They should have mentors as well as teachers who will be there to support them in everything they do.  Mentoring should not be for 1 year but for 3 years.  Mentoring, in most states, is only offered for 1 year but many teachers still need support beyond that first year.  They should have administrators who were, themselves, master teachers.  Master teachers know the trials and tribulations of being a rookie teacher.  Master teachers can offer rich and sound guidance to any new teacher. 

Teachers should not be placed out of their field of expertise.  When teachers go to college and get an education degree in a subject it is  a result of an internal passion  for that subject.  That passion Badass Teachers Association:

Arne Duncan Urges Parents to Weigh In on NCLB Rewrite; Will It Work? - Politics K-12 - Education Week

Arne Duncan Urges Parents to Weigh In on NCLB Rewrite; Will It Work? - Politics K-12 - Education Week:

Arne Duncan Urges Parents to Weigh In on NCLB Rewrite; Will It Work?

Big Education Ape: #ASKARNE What'sup? with SEC. 1118. PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT in the New ESEA?
Annapolis, Md.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan urged parents at a Maryland middle school Wednesday to air their concerns about a lack of resources and accountability in a bill introduced this week in the U.S. House of Representatives to rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act.  
But some of the biggest applause lines at the event were from parents who wanted to talk about another issue: testing and the Common Core State Standards. 
"I'm really afraid that the PARCC assessments are going to take away from my child's time in the classroom," one mother said to the education secretary at the Parent Teacher Association town hall at Wiley H. Bates Middle School in Annapolis. (She was referring to common-core-aligned tests being developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, one of two consortia devising such assessments.)
And another parent asked, "Why are we doing too much too soon on aggressive PARCC testing in schools? ... Can't we take some time to examine this before we use our children as guinea pigs in the classroom?"
Another said she "completely supported" common core, but wondered what kinds of supports would be available to help her son, a student in special education, gain access to the curriculum and assessments.
Duncan told them there are going to be "bumps and hiccups" when it comes to rolling out new common-core-aligned tests. "I can't promise it will be perfect." But he noted that field tests across the country "went pretty darn well last year."
As for special education resources, he said the Obama administration's proposed fiscal 2016 budget seeks a $175 million increase for special education state grants (which is pretty small considering it's a more than $11.5 billion program, but it's something).
Bipartisanship and NCLB
On the NCLB rewrite, Duncan is angry that the process in the House isn't bipartisan. His dislike for the bill is no surprise since the White House threatened to veto a nearly identical piece of legislation back in 2013 that passed the House on a totally party-line vote. 
He's also miffed about remarks that Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Senate education committee made earlier Wednesday.
Duncan didn't say this specifically, but he may have been referring to some inside baseball here: Alexander's plan for moving the bill through the Senate. Alexander said earlier at the Brookings Institution that, for now, he's planning to run a "bipartisan open process" and is looking for the 60 votes necessary to get the bill off the Senate floor. 
It would be great to have Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the top Democrat on the committee, on Arne Duncan Urges Parents to Weigh In on NCLB Rewrite; Will It Work? - Politics K-12 - Education Week:

Why Are American Schools Obsessed With Turning Kids Into Robots? - The Atlantic

Why Are American Schools Obsessed With Turning Kids Into Robots? - The Atlantic:

Why Are American Schools Obsessed With Turning Kids Into Robots?

Standardized tests aren't the only way of measuring intelligence.

 Anya Kamenetz is very clear when she says she didn’t set out to write about standardized testing. A 2014 New America fellow and lead education blogger at National Public Radio, she had already written two books about the future of education and wanted her next project to be about innovations in K-12 education. But as she began researching her new book, The Test: Why Our Schools are Obsessed with Standardized Testing—But You Don't Have to Be, she found something surprising: Innovations weren’t at the center of the story for K-12. At best, they were at the margins, always seemed difficult to incorporate. Why? Because of a social and political obsession with standardized testing in America. In order to write accurately about improving K-12 education, she had to write about what she calls "the gorilla in the room."

In writing The Test, Kamenetz traced the history of testing back to its 19th-century origins and found that this gorilla is not the answer to the question of how to build an equality-based meritocracy. On the contrary, she told the audience at a recent New America event: "The more we try to make them [standardized tests] an instrument of increasing equality, the more they’re going to fail us and the kids who really need most of our help and support."
How will testing fail America? As the country becomes more standardized in the classroom, it risks eradicating difference among students, said Kevin Carey, New America’s Education Policy Program Director, cultivating classrooms of robots rather than unicorns. One of the key points The Test makes, according to Carey, is that minimizing difference isn’t necessarily the same thing as minimizing ignorance.
Kamenetz diagnoses two major flaws in America’s testing boom: the lack of transparency about the content of the tests themselves (which she says stifles a robust public discussion about their efficacy) and the punitive dimensions of high-stakes testing. As she put it, "There are some carrots in the No Child Left Behind law, but mostly there are sticks."
Yet for Maurice Sykes, author of Doing the Right Thing for Children: Eight Qualities of Leadership, pursuing equality in education isn’t about finding the right way or wrong way to test kids—it’s about reconsidering how society envisions children overall. Based on the current obsession with testing, "our vision of children is that we can assess their development like an assembly line," declared Sykes, who advocates instead for "multiple ways of measuring intelligence." Unfortunately, even with the advent of the more recent Common Core Standards, says Kamenetz, not much has changed when it comes to testing. The Common Core tests are more difficult, but they offer little room for improvement over No Child Left Behind because the format of the tests themselves isn’t substantially different—for Why Are American Schools Obsessed With Turning Kids Into Robots? - The Atlantic:

My Inspiration and Anger: One day Gary disappeared | Cloaking Inequity

My Inspiration and Anger: One day Gary disappeared | Cloaking Inequity:

My Inspiration and Anger: One day Gary disappeared

Gary reminded me me allot of myself. He was a 4th grader with big brown curls and caramel colored skin. In class, he was a very energetic, precocious and intelligent. Gary even shared his first name with my father. One day Gary disappeared.
I come from a family of educators. My grandmother was a librarian in Houghton Middle school in Saginaw Michigan for decades. I remember going to her library and being amazed by all of the books and wanting to have enough time with her to read them all. My Aunt Pat was a Buena Vista School District middle school and high school principal and then superintendent  (now closed due to urban decay and millions in budget cuts from the state that crippled the district that was already working on slim margins). My Aunt Roberta was a high school counselor and treasurer for many years in Saginaw Buena Vista. So perhaps I have advocacy for education in my blood.
My first experience with children was working as a day care teacher as a part of my duties at a summer camp in Grayling, Michigan. I changed many diapers, visited fire stations, and made snacks during parts of two summers. The other weeks I was a counselor for kids aged 7-16. In college I started volunteering in elementary schools. One experience that I particularly treasure was spending my spring break in a Hmong-serving charter school in St. Paul, MN.
After I graduated from college, I realized that I wanted to focus on education. I had always enjoyed politics and mathematics, so I was drawn to work on a degree in educational policy. I spent a year in the Gerald R Ford School of Public Policy and the a year in the School of Education for a masters degree from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. After grad school I had three jobs on the horizon. First was the CIA. That is a story for another day. Second, was an interview with the Houston Independent School District. Texas was in the midst of an education miracle and Superintendent Rod Paige was leading the charge. Also a story for another day, actually, this is chapter one in the book I am working on. I also had an interview and test to work in the research area of the LA Unified School District. When Houston made an offer soon after my visit, I left my CIA interview and then notified LAUSD that I was not going to interview.
There is too much that happened in Houston for me to discuss in this blog post (check out my forthcoming book), but suffice to say that I marveled at the public discourse around testing and accountability relative to what I was aware of in the data I had access to on a daily basis in the research and accountability office of the district. What really troubled me was that nearly 50% of African American and Latino students were being held back in the 9th grade and thus were often not given the opportunity to test in the 10th grade (See Accountability Texas-style: The progress and learning of urban minority students in a high-stakes testing context). Which meant that they would never graduate because a battery of exit tests were/are required to graduate in Texas. This hidden pushout that was an unintended consequence (or perhaps intended, see Walking Away From High Stakes Tests, A Noble Lie) of high stakes testing and accountability.
What made me angry (yes internet critic who has been emailing, tweeting and Facebooking me all last week) I was angry. I get angry when faced with injustice in education policy.
Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 10.52.09 AMStanford, despite its lurking conservatism/neoliberalism/postpositivism, gave me the tools during my PhD in Education Policy Analysis to engage in the research to display these inequities in the academic and public discourse. I will be forever grateful for that opportunity. Go Cardinal!
At the end of my doctorate I was hired as a 21st century classroom instructor to teach math and reading at a charter school in East Palo Alto. While the area has gentrified somewhat over the past decades, when I was teaching in East Palo Alto it could be a little more dicey. I remember driving to school and seeing a dead body in the street that had My Inspiration and Anger: One day Gary disappeared | Cloaking Inequity:

Note to Peter Cunningham: Read Ravitch’s Death and Life | deutsch29

Note to Peter Cunningham: Read Ravitch’s Death and Life | deutsch29:

Note to Peter Cunningham: Read Ravitch’s Death and Life

 On January 20, 2015, education historian Diane Ravitch wrote an open letter to Senator Lamar Alexander regarding the upcoming reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the most recent revision of which is No Child Left Behind (NCLB). In her letter, Ravitch refers to her time as Alexander’s assistant secretary of education (research) from 1991 to 1993.

Alexander is drafting the Senate’s next version of ESEA.

At its heart, Ravitch’s letter is an appeal for Alexander to abandon the federal mandate for standardized testing in grades 3 through 8.

When I initially read Ravitch’s appeal, two thoughts occurred to me. The first was that Ravitch and Alexander have known one another for decades, with Alexander choosing Ravitch as assistant secretary of education despite his being a Republican and her being a Democrat– which means she must have impressed him enough to set aside issues of political party. The second thought was that Alexander is surely aware of Ravitch’s dramatic change of perspective regarding the value of standardized testing in the American classroom from the time of her 1990s appointment to present day, 2015.

The richness of Ravitch’s communication with Alexander regarding ESEA reauthorization rests in the background with her well-documented change of perspective on standardized-test-driven reform. Her views on accountability and choice were once aligned with Alexander’s, and now, several years, two books, and 17 million Ravitch-blog page views following her realization that she could no longer endorse test-driven education reform, here she is, offering her conscience-wrestled perspective to a man who thought enough of the soundness of her advice to pen the words, “Read anything Diane Ravitch writes about education,” in his own personal book of advice.

And remarkably, in this era of the corporate and philanthropic purchasing of education reform voices and bodies, Ravitch has not accepted a dime from anyone to foster her change of perspective. It was all her, borne of an increasingly-evidence-based conviction that the education reforms she so valued and for which she fiercely advocated from the early 1990s to the mid-2000s simply would not work.

Those whose education reform voices have been purchased try to portray Ravitch as duplicitous for now denying the value of a corporate model of education reform, a model dependent upon standardized test scores to damn traditional schools and teachers and hand districts over to under-regulated, miracle-lacking “choice.” (For a fresh example of the state-run, charter-promoting failure, see this post on New Orleans Recovery School District {RSD} 2014 ACT scores.)

Today, I read of such a targeted mischaracterizing of Ravitch, written on February 2, 2015, by former Arne Duncan staffer Peter Cunningham, who started a pro-corporate-reform blog with $12 million in reformer cash. Cunningham decided that he would come several years late to the party and point out to the American public that Ravitch has changed her views on test-driven reforms.

News flash, Cunningham: We already know.

Our knowing is why Ravitch is “at the very top of a list of the 200 most influential scholars in America,” as you point out in the opening of your post. We know what she stands for, and it is the community school.

Not good enough for Cunningham, who writes in the comments section of his own post, “I have certainly changed my mind at times and I do not fault Professor Ravitch for changing her mind. But on everything?”

When “everything” is the entire education folio that bankrupts public school systems in favor of a largely unaccountable, under-regulated education business, then yes, “everything.”

Cunningham, who supports Arne Duncan and accepts millions in corporate-reform-promoting philanthropic cash, is reluctant to acknowledge as much. Therefore, in his February 2, 2015, post, he decides to create what he calls the “other” letter Ravitch supposedly wrote to Alexander, one in which Cunningham cuts and pastes excerpts Note to Peter Cunningham: Read Ravitch’s Death and Life | deutsch29:

Big Education Ape: An Open Letter to Lamar Alexander: Don't Forget Rule #84 in 'The Little Plaid Book' | Diane Ravitch

Big Education Ape: Rule No. 84: Diane Ravitch's Other Letter to Lamar Alexander | Peter Cunningham

L.A. school board election politics equal gutter politics - LA Times

L.A. school board election politics equal gutter politics

Bennett Kayser
L.A. Unified school board member Bennett Kayser, shown in 2011, is running for reelection. He was the subject of an attack ad paid for by charter school supporters. (Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles: Charter Lobby Smears Board Member
Click on picture to Listen to Diane Ravitch
Steve Lopez of the Los Angeles Times reports on the vile tactics that the charter lobby is using in hopes of defeating school board incumbent Bennett Kayseri in the approaching election.The issue of the moment is the unbridled proliferation of charter schools in LA. Kayseri has been a charter critic. The California Charter School Association would like to defeat Kayser and replace him with a friend of charters.CCSA and allies have been handing out a flyer smearing Kayser as an anti-Latino bigot.Lopez writes:“The flier essentially calls him a bigot.“BENNETT KAYSER TRIED TO STOP LATINO CHILDREN FROM ATTENDING SCHOOLS IN WHITE NEIGHBORHOODS.”“That’s the screaming headline on a vile, two-page missive in Spanish and English, and the flier includes a lovely photograph of five Latino children sitting forlornly on a curb, as if their world has been crushed by the cruel Caucasian board member.“Kayser condemned the ad, calling it garbage.“Character assassination and bullying have no place in our school district; these people should be ashamed of themselves,” he said in a statement his staff sent me Thursday evening.”The charter supporters play rough. And dirty.
OK,  kids, the L.A. Unified school board election is barely a month away, and you know what that means, right?

Let the gutter politics begin.

On Wednesday night, two out of three candidates in District 5 blew off a community forum that drew 200 people. As I explained in an earlier column, there was, of course, a political backstory involving the eternal clash between the teachers union and the so-called reformers.

And now there’s plenty of buzz, and ruffled feathers, about a nasty attack on board member Bennett Kayser in a flier put out by charter school supporters.

The flier essentially calls him a bigot.


That’s the screaming headline on a vile, two-page missive in Spanish and English, and the flier includes a lovely photograph of five Latino children sitting forlornly on a curb, as if their world has been crushed by the cruel Caucasian board member.

Kayser condemned the ad, calling it garbage.

“Character assassination and bullying have no place in our school district; these people should be ashamed of themselves,” he said in a statement his staff sent me Thursday evening.

It was no surprise he felt that way, but the flier was so reprehensible, it was also condemned by board member George McKenna. He was listed on the flier as one of four candidates supported by the “Parent Teacher Alliance.” McKenna told me he didn’t know who that group is, did not ask for its endorsement, and did not want it.

Four L.A. school board members likely to face reelection challenges
Four L.A. school board members likely to face reelection challenges
“I am unequivocally opposed to it,” he said, adding that he has in fact endorsed Kayser. Friday morning, he issued a statement calling the flier “racially inflammatory” and asking the group to withdraw its support of him.

So what’s this all about?

Same ol’ same ol’.

Another chapter in a long-running war among forces that are incapable of constructive conversations, and compromise, in the interest of students.

On one side you’ve got the so-called reformers who believe charters and tougher teacher evaluations tied to student performance are long overdue in public education. On the other side you’ve got teacher unions and other parties arguing that teachers are unfairly under attack, and the real culprits are lack of funding, the socioeconomic challenges of impoverished students, and heavy-handed administrators backed by billionaire agitators.

Kayser is a major ally of United Teachers Los Angeles, which is why the charter school proponents want to blast him out of office. The charter/reform folks would love to see him replaced by candidate Ref Rodriguez, a charter school operator.

And that’s certainly their prerogative, but shame on them for taking the low road. The flier is filled with distortions that are an insult to anyone who makes the mistake of reading it.

"Bennett Kayser has fought to reduce the number of Latino voters in his district,” is one of the charges. And here’s another: “Bennett Kayser tried to stop Latino parents from sending their children to better schools in white areas of the city.”

I’d call it childish, except that most children have higher standards and more integrity.

The flier says it was paid for by “The Parent Teacher Alliance,” with sponsorship and “major funding” by “CCSA Advocates Independent Expenditure Committee.” That’s the California Charter Schools Assn. and its cronies.

So what we’re talking about here is the shadowy world of undisclosed contributors to L.A. school board election politics equal gutter politics - LA Times:

Complicating Poverty | educarenow

Complicating Poverty | educarenow:

Complicating Poverty

In Academic State Champs: Michigan’s Top 25 School Districts, Michigan’sBridge, an on-line magazine, has come out with an attempt to rank schools in a way that factors in the variable of poverty.
Any attempt to rank schools that factors in the concern of poverty must be better than most, right?
I guess so, if you accept that the competitive, market driven model of ranking schools is acceptable, or that rankings based on achievement data is in any way useful.
And if you accept that poverty can be considered without also considering the ways in which race functions in our society and schools.
And if you accept that the real way to change children’s education is by addressing in-school factors while avoiding the impact of out-of-school factors.
I, on the other hand, accept none of these.
Allow me to explain.
But before doing so, let me applaud this attempt by the Bridge.  I think it is a genuine dive into the issue of poverty.  At least they accept that poverty has an impact on education. However, by accepting the myths I outline below, Bridge continues that failed narrative of “failing schools,” which hurts all of us, especially our kids, by misdirecting good intentions.
Myth 1- standardized tests measure learning.
In determining its rankings, Bridge makes the fundamental assumption that test scores measure learning.  They don’t. Bridge recognizes that, “To a frustrating level, school test scores track the socioeconomic status of the children who walk Complicating Poverty | educarenow:

Dad Gone Wild | Are we funding a School District or a PR Firm? #WeBelieve2015;

Dad Gone Wild | Are we funding a School District or a PR Firm?:


chrisThis week I got the results back from a open records records request I made with the state of Tennessee’s Achievement School District. It’s taken a while for me to fully digest them. The Tennessee Achievement School District was created as one of the latest tools of the reform movement to destroy our public education system. They are in the midst of taking over a local middle school here in Nashville, and I wanted to get a behind-the-scenes look at exactly what their plans are, the research they’d done, and how they planned to turn around this so-called failing school. I expected to get reams of independent research, emails filled with pedagogy, and an examination of just how they would staff this new school. Since they were only taken over fifth grade, I thought maybe there would be some discussion on the impact that would have on the other grades. Surely somebody had begun preliminary talks on how to reach out to existing staff and begin that collaboration. Unfortunately there was none of that in the emails I got. Ninety days of emails instead resulted in ninety days of PR work. Here’s an example:
I hope this note finds you doing well and enjoying a wonderful holiday with friends and family.  I am gearing up both personally and professionally for a terrific 2015 that I look forward to sharing with each of you.
To that end, I am writing to request a favor.  There is something I’d like for you to share with as many people as possible. This week, I wrote an opinion piece for Nashville’s Tennessean newspaper that will run on Monday (it will likely be posted online tomorrow).  While the piece is focused on education reform battles in Nashville, it contains some big ideas that are familiar to any of us who do this work.  It speaks to our shared belief that kids in failing schools can do so much better—a belief not shared by many of our detractors.
We know that national anti-reform efforts are zeroing in on Tennessee’s education battles at an increasing pace (the NEA bussed teachers in from out of town to attend ASD-hosted parent meetings last month here in Nashville) and the ASD is becoming a target of their nationally coordinated efforts.  This makes good sense.  Some ASD-authorized charter schools earned over 10 point gains last year and are already proving what is possible when we set high expectations, support our kids in reaching them, and treat educators like professionals by giving them the autonomy to make decisions based on what’s best for their kids.  Stopping us is critical for those who want to protect the status quo.
Like many of you, I get frustrated whenever there is an appearance that there is more opposition than support for positive change.  As we know, parents want good schools for their kids.  Period.  Unfortunately, the colorful tactics of our detractors get more attention in the press than the voices of positive change.  But we can help make these voices louder.  And sharing an opinion piece is a major way to show support for what we Dad Gone Wild | Are we funding a School District or a PR Firm?:

Teachers union chief busted at Garner protest slams ‘racism’ - NY Daily News

Teachers union chief busted at Garner protest slams ‘racism’ - NY Daily News:

Teachers union chief who was arrested at Eric Garner protest slams 'bias and racism'

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers and former head of the New York United Federation of Teachers, was arrested with rabbis and several others in December. She asserted that ‘police are not the enemy’ during a court appearance Monday.

You could call it a teachable moment.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers and former head of the New York United Federation of Teachers, appeared in Manhattan Criminal Court on Monday morning for her December arrest at an upper West Side protest over the death of Eric Garner.
“Police are not the enemy,” Weingarten told the Daily News while she waited for her case to be called. “Police are our first responders. Bias and racism is (the enemy).”
Weingarten received an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal. If she is not arrested in the next six months, her case will be dismissed.
She was arrested with four rabbis and several other participants who sat down in the middle of Broadway to protest a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer who put Garner in a prohibited chokehold last year.
Weingarten and the others had gathered outside an Upper West Side synagogue and had said Kaddish, the Jewish prayer of mourning for the dead.
They followed the prayer by sitting down in the middle of the street. Weingarten and the others were arrested and charged with civil disobedience.
“We need to work to make sure the law treats everyone equally. That means communities and police feel safe and police feel safe,” she said.
“Civil disobedience, where people understand the ramifications of their actions in the tradition of Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., is to try to make the system more fair and more equitable.”Teachers union chief busted at Garner protest slams ‘racism’ - NY Daily News:

New York City Schools Chancellor Objects to Cuomo’s Plan for Grading Teachers -

New York City Schools Chancellor Objects to Cuomo’s Plan for Grading Teachers -

New York City Schools Chancellor Objects to Cuomo’s Plan for Grading Teachers

 The New York City schools chancellor, Carmen Fariña, spoke out forcefully against some of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s education proposals on Tuesday, making clear the de Blasio administration’s opposition to a core part of the governor’s 2015 agenda.

Mr. Cuomo outlined several major educational initiatives last month that he wants state legislators to adopt in exchange for a $1.1 billion increase in education financing. Charter schools, always a contentious issue in New York City, were at the heart of one proposal. But the idea that may meet the most resistance statewide is his request that 50 percent of a teacher’s annual grade be based on state test results if they teach a tested class.

“I think 50 percent based on tests is too much,” Ms. Fariña told state legislators at a budget hearing on Tuesday, in comments that were echoed by representatives of other large school districts. “We need a human touch any time we evaluate anyone for anything.”

Depending on the district, 20 to 40 percent of a teacher’s grade can be based on how students perform on state tests. Mr. Cuomo has described the current system, under which only about 1 percent of teachers are rated ineffective, as “baloney.

But around the country, parents have massed together in recent years to push back against the growth of high-stakes testing, which spread as states tried to increase accountability in school systems. Any mention of testing in the current climate tends to suck all the oxygen out of a room, but another Cuomo proposal, to have independent observers conduct teacher evaluations, as opposed to the teachers’ own principals, also drew a rebuttal from the chancellor.

Ms. Fariña said that teachers needed to be observed over time, watched for things like whether they engaged with parents or gave special attention to students who needed extra help, and that “flybys” could not replace that.

Asked for comment, the governor’s office stood firm, alluding to the fact that most students have not been passing the state’s new standardized tests.

“What’s clear is that the current system, where 99 percent of teachers are New York City Schools Chancellor Objects to Cuomo’s Plan for Grading Teachers -

Opinion: Some Pols Like Charter Schools For One Big Reason « CBS Chicago

Opinion: Some Pols Like Charter Schools For One Big Reason « CBS Chicago:

Opinion: Some Pols Like Charter Schools For One Big Reason

 By John Dodge

CHICAGO (CBS) — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is a big fan of charter schools.
His new GOP neighbor in Illinois, Gov. Bruce Rauner, loves them too.
In the name of education reform, both are pushing more of them to give parents a greater choice when it comes to sending their children to school.
The concept of providing “school choice” for families in the form of using taxpayer money for privately run, charter schools is hardly new.
Important: That is taxpayer money that is being taken away from traditional public schools. It’s not a spare pot of gold.
So, that raises a few questions.
If these concepts are a panacea for what ails public education, why are only 3 percent of Indiana children enrolled in them?
Well, because research shows they don’t work (they generally don’t turn out higher-achieving students) and aren’t a terribly popular option for families.
In fact, six of the eight charter schools in Lake County, Indiana received failing grades last year from the state.
Are all charter schools failures? Of course not. But there is plenty of evidence to show that they don’t deserve tens of millions of dollars in public money.
Yet, the money keeps flowing in places like Indiana.
So, if these concepts don’t work, then why are they so popular within the walls of the Statehouse in Indianapolis?
It’s a classic case of following the money
Consider the example of House Education Committee Chairman Robert Behning.
Mr Behning, according to his campaign webpage, “Authored legislation to create the nation’s most expansive school choice scholarship program, giving Hoosier families the ability to choose the best educational environment for their kids. He’s also been a key leader in strengthening Indiana’s public charter schools and ensuring that dollars follow the child in education funding.”
There is this group in Washington, D.C. called American Federation for Children.
They like charter schools so much that they are willing to pay a big price to get them.
So, what do they do? In 2014, according to campaign finance reports, they wrote checks for nearly $1 million to another group, called Hoosiers For Quality Education.
HQE, no surprise, also likes charter schools and vouchers, and is committed to dispelling the “myths” spewed by critics of these education reforms.
HQE is also committed to cracking open its piggy bank for legislators, typically around $1,000 or so per friendly candidates, according to 2014 campaign finance reports.
HQE handed out a handful of $1,000 checks to lawmakers on the House Education Committee, which recently passed a pair of bills that would strip the elected State Education Superintendent, Glenda Ritz, of her powers and also the board unchecked authority to hire consultants and award contracts aimed at improving education.
The former State Education Superintendent, Tony Bennett, was seen around the statehouse this week. During committee testimony, it was learned that Bennett is a consultant for HQE.
What would be the odds of seeing Mr. Bennett become involved again on the state board if these bills ultimately pass?
At any rate, how much do you think HQE (Also known as Hoosiers for Economic Growth) gave to Mr. Behning in 2014?
Behning also got $5,000 from Pence’s campaign fund, plus another $2,000 from Charter Schools USA.
So, there you have just one reason why charter schools are so popular in the Hoosier State.
In fact they are so popular, that the Republicans want to lavish charter schools with tens of millions of dollars more in state money.
Money that will be taken away from the other 97 percent of children to attend good, old-fashioned Opinion: Some Pols Like Charter Schools For One Big Reason « CBS Chicago: