Thursday, September 14, 2006
Washington DC's teacher pool is changing, a new ES Chart You Can Trust shows how.
Charter Market Share
New NAPCS looks at cities with the most substantial market share for public charter schools, some obvious ones but also some that you might not think.
Per this item, Eduwonk readers are demanding results! OK. In MN Ember Reichgott Junge did not win the primary there (heavy late anti-Ember/anti-charter mailings from the teachers' union there which traditionally has not been particularly active on the issue is raising some eyebrows). But in MD, Andy Smarick has finished a close second, which under MD's election rules puts him on the ballot in the general.
College Action...And If You're Going...
New USN blog "Paper Trail" is going to cover all the goings on around the nation's campuses. Off to a fast start, check it out. And, if you're looking for new blogs and interested in the West Coast, SFSchools covers education in San Francisco. Both on the blogroll at left.
...so don't forget you have a lot to do...
WaPo's Valerie Strauss looks at the homework debate in today's paper. Lacks the bite and analysis of Wildavsky's piece below but includes important, and I think too often overlooked, points from Stanford's Linda Darling-Hammond and Duke's Harris Cooper:
...many teachers lack the skills to design homework assignments that help kids learn and don't turn them off to learning.
...most teachers get little or no training on how to create homework assignments that advance learning.
In other words, this debate tends to turn on quantity rather than quality.
Update: Whoa! Out of nowhere AFTie One-L opens a can of whoop-ass on Alfie Kohn! He's more or less the patron saint of NEA types...again showing there still are some subtle differences between the two unions.
Wildavsky On Homework
In Sunday's Washington Post Ben Wildavsky asks where's the beef on the recent (and seemingly perennial) homework hysteria.
Joe Williams weighs-in on last Friday's weighted-student funding confab at CAP. Joe's piece is a serious must read.
Per the below, there seems to be a trend here: The Bush Administration has, and has sought to, go extra-legal from No Child Left Behind on a variety of fronts. Last week's backpedal on teacher quality requirements for veteran teachers is just another example. But, it seems unmistakable that where they've been able to go extra-legal (allowing growth models, deemphasizing public school choice, easing accountability requirements, etc...) it's all been on issues where the special interest community would like to see the law weakened. Conversely, on anything that requires holding the line on adults (veteran teachers, collective bargaining, etc...) the administration hasn't been able to get an inch...
Over at Edwize Leo Casey is all upset because he argues that Margaret Spellings is misreading an obscure but controversial provision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (currently called No Child Left Behind).
The provision in question says that the No Child Left Behind Act cannot trump local teacher collective bargaining agreements. Leo says that the Spellings crowd is trying to argue that this provision does not apply. Not sure that Leo is right or that this is the right fight for the unions to pick now anyway.
First, a quick bit of history. After No Child became law in 2002, the Bush Administration did try to argue that this provision did not apply. The NEA, on firm legal ground, quickly cleaned their clock on that one and the issue has been pretty dormant since excepting interest group and think tank chatter.*
Now, in an updated guidance covering a range of issues, all the feds said was that collective bargaining agreements are not a reason or excuse not to comply with the federal law (pdf). It's not an unreasonable thing for them to be offering guidance on since there are a lot of questions. Key stuff upsetting Leo is page 42:
Although section 1116(d) [the collective bargaining language in ESEA] does not invalidate employee protections that exist under labor law or under collective bargaining and similar labor agreements, it does not exempt SEAs, LEAs, and schools from compliance with Title I, Part A.
That's reasonable enough, no? And in other contexts, for instance prevailing wage laws, the teachers' unions have argued for federal law to trump anyway. Here the issue is just that local policies don't alleviate requirements for complying with the federal law. At a minimum not sure it's good precedent for progressives to start picking and choosing when they do and don't want federal laws to be enforced. Leo himself has eloquently made that case in terms of federalism and education.
Besides, I'm not sure this is the fight the teachers' unions want. It may get old labor types like Leo really excited, but the public won't get it, if they do they won't support it, and calling a lot of attention to it will ultimately further erode labor's position rather than enhance it. The provision has stayed in the law because of behind the scenes arm-twisting not deeply rooted support among legislators. Besides, there are a lot of people in the policy, civil rights, and even the ed interest group communities who want to see it gone and it'll be an issue in the next reauthorization. In other words, jumping up and down about it is not great strategery.
*Update: AFTie One-L helpfully provides a timeline to the history of this provision. While it's no secret that the Department of Ed doesn't like this provision, per the above I don't see how this guidance runs afoul of the law.
You didn't have any work to do anyway did you? You can now spend the better part of tomorrow, Tuesday, at two interesting education events in D.C:
In the AM (10:30-noon), Ed Trust gathers Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL); Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA); and Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) and educators Al Harper, Barbara Adderley, Martha Barber to discuss "Yes We Can," a new Ed Trust report about African-American student achievement. 562 Dirksen Senate Office Building.
Then get lunch.
In the PM, 1-2:30 at the National Press Club (14th and F), Education Sector will gather Georgetown's Harry Holzer, USA Today's Richard Whitmire, and ES' Sara Mead for a debate about Mead's recent report on boys and girls. AFTie Ruth Wattenberg moderates and it promises to be a very lively discussion you do not want to miss. Mead's a known man-hater and is rarely allowed out like this and Whitmire has a forthcoming book on the issue.