Holding onto teachers and vouchers isn't easy

A strikingly high number of teachers and principals in the nation’s capital have ditched district schools recently (55 percent of new teachers exit DCPS within two years, compared to one-third nationally), posing a real problem for one of the country’s most innovative school systems. While there’s value in some turnover if the lemons walk out the door, losing more than half of new hires so quickly is excessive. DCPS’s much-lauded approach to human capital must find ways to prioritize retention as much as it does recruitment and evaluation of talent.

Even increasingly diverse communities with appealing magnet schools struggle to integrate their classrooms, the New York Times pointed out on Sunday. Controlled choice and gentrification alone won’t achieve integration: It requires parents willing to take the plunge, and that’s easier said than done.

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program will be preserved, following an agreement between Speaker Boehner, Senator Lieberman, and the U.S. Department of Education. The Obama Administration deserves a smidgen of credit for restoring some funding to this important voucher program but mostly a scolding for playing politics with thousands of students’ educations in the first place. The real kudos belongs to Boehner and Lieberman for persisting, even if this victory is incomplete.

While there won’t be any Wisconsin-style redemption for Senate Bill 5 anytime soon, Ohio’s scuttled attempt at collective-bargaining reform is quietly helping districts around the Buckeye State. Spooked by the prospect of diminished bargaining power in future negotiations, a year ago many local teacher unions made pay concessions in return for extending existing contracts, leaving many districts financially stronger than they’d expected to be. It’s a small consolation, to be sure, but a good reminder that even tough losses can turn out to be worth the fight.

Charters rightly get credit for breaking trail when it comes to capturing blended learning’s considerable potential, but another group may soon be joining them: Catholic schools. Case in point, Seton Education Partners paired with a San Francisco parochial school to create innovative blended classrooms and will bring this model to a Seattle school next fall. Traditional districts take note: The competition is ahead on this one.

While it was encouraging to see the U.S. Council of Mayors support parent rights and school choice with its unanimous endorsement of parent-trigger laws last weekend, Gadfly will be even more encouraged when one of these triggers finally succeeds in transforming a school.

More By Author