Tuesday’s News…Highly Kinda Qualified Teachers in PA…And Still More Florida!

The Los Angeles Times editorial board really likes Teach For America…and rightly so.

Conversely, in Pennsylvania they’re watering down the standards for teachers because of problems with the pass rates on tests of content knowledge reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. There are so many delicious lines in this one that it would be a copyright violation to relay them all here…but they include:

“We’re offering an alternative acceptable to the feds, but at a level of rigor we believe will keep ‘highly qualified’ and ‘fully certified’ synonymous.” Yes, they’re so synonymous now that generally you only hear them together in a sentence when separated by the words “does not mean”…

“The only members of the public to speak in favor of the new regulations were representatives of the teacher unions, the Pennsylvania State Education Association, and the Pennsylvania Federation of Teachers.” Surely this is just coincidence…

Read it yourself. It would actually be quite funny if the joke were not on Pennsylvania’s minority and poor kids.

Florida has signed on (PDF) to become the third state to employ ABCTE as an alternative credentialing route. Rumor has it other states on the horizon…cue, respectively, rejoicing and panicking from various partisans in this debate!

More Florida…A reader sent along this column from Florida to showcase the madness of NCLB. Mary Jo Melone bemoans the unfair labeling of a Florida “A” school as “needing improvement” under NCLB. She’s right that relative to other Florida schools the achievement gaps at this school are small and overall scores better than average. Still, average in Florida isn’t great and at this school only about one in three special ed students are proficient in reading and math, and there are some other problems too. You can see more data here and decide for yourself…There are some problems with AYP, but this isn’t one of them…

And yet more Florida…The Miami Herald reports on Secretary Paige’s speech at the national charter school conference. Two key grafs:

“Our main concern is that, while the administrations in both Washington and Tallahassee hold public schools to extreme accountability measures, it’s seemingly less for charter schools,” said Mark Pudlow, spokesman for the Florida Education Association, a statewide group of teachers unions. “If we’re going to expand charters, it ought to be on the same playing field.”

By and large, charters are already subject to the same measures under Gov. Jeb Bush’s A+ Education Plan and the federal No Child Left Behind law. Charter students must take the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, and most receive grades from the state.

Hmmm…if the second graf is true, which it is, then why waste space and ink on the first one, which isn’t? It’s “seemingly” pointless…

Two new new studies worth checking out. Natalie Lacireno-Paquet examines EMO run charter schools and comes up with some interesting findings here. Frederick Hess, Robert Maranto, Scott Milliman, and Kathleen Grammatico Ferraiolo (who is wonderful and should really be hanging out with better company…) examine teacher characteristics and attitudes toward school choice here (free reg. required).

The Education Consumers Clearinghouse says that the new NBPTS research by Dan Goldhaber and Emily Anthony really does not prove much at all. Their primary gripe is that the effect sizes in the study are small.* A more important criticism might be a cost-benefit analysis instead…via educationnews.org

*Didn’t TFA critics hail the NBPTS study and then deride the “small” effect sizes in the recent TFA study? They did!

In the Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby writes, “If teachers unions in Massachusetts spent as much time trying to improve the large number of public schools they control as they do trying to hurt the minuscule number of charter schools they don’t control, public education in the Bay State would be the pride of the Western world.” In case you couldn’t tell, he’s against the proposed moratorium on charters in MA.

In Maryland they’re rethinking service learning in the wake of some questionable activities…

The Washington Post editorial board is skeptical of a temporary superintendent and again tells city officials to get their act together about the schools.

Jay Mathews bemoans the lack of hate mail that a column saying fire a third of all teachers engendered…here is one solution, run Jay’s provocative (and usually excellent) columns in the paper rather than online, more readers = more hate mail.

The Star Tribune editorial board says reflect on public funding for education the next time a kid comes to your door selling things for their school. Good point.

USA Today reports that colleges are becoming more gay-friendly in response to an increasing number of incoming freshman who are out. But, superficial appeals will likely fall short. Notes one student, “I don’t care if the school has rainbow flags everywhere,” says Anthony Russell-Smith, 19, who graduates in June from Shepherd Hill High School in Dudley, Mass., and plans to take a year off before college. An active LGBT community is “not the most important thing, but I look for it,” he says.

NYT readers debate the intersection of liberal arts and work.

Here is a really nice story, please send more of these…

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