Teachers

Liam Julian

Teachers in Nashua, New Hampshire, have threatened to strike unless they reach a contract settlement by March 31.

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New Yorkers got a dose of d??j?? vu yesterday when New York's new governor, David A. Paterson, and his wife Michelle held a press conference to discuss their marital infidelities.

In more disturbing news, this New York Times story reveals that Governor Paterson's father, Basil A. Paterson, is an adviser to Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers.

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Ed Week reports on an interesting new study showing the impact of teacher absences on students: "taking into account the effects on student achievement that might be produced by various characteristics of the teachers, students, and schools--including teachers' levels of skill and effort--the researchers found a small but significant negative impact on student math scores attributable to teacher absences alone," such that 10 days off were akin to "the difference for a student of having a first-year teacher as opposed to a second-year teacher." In their sample, teachers averaged 5.3 sick or personal days each per year.

None of this is terribly shocking, but did the unions miss a PR opportunity here? Instead of saying "see, an inexperienced substitute is no substitute for a true professional; teachers really matter," Rob Weil of the AFT urges us to "be careful about overemphasizing these results," in case the authors "are implying something that may not be true: that teachers are taking more days off than they are allowed." And why on earth would anyone get that impression? Perhaps because "teacher sick days occurred on a day adjacent to a weekend or a holiday 52.3 percent of the time, compared with 45.7 percent of the time on the other days, which usually fell midweek," and "conversations with school principals revealed that many teachers viewed such absences as an entitlement that they could use to fit their preferences."

There was no mention of whether teachers' golf handicaps improved after their...

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Liam Julian

An article in Tuesday's New York Times references an experiment in which researchers served icy vodka tonics to some college students and icy tonic water to others. Both drinks tasted the same. After two hours or so, the subjects who received non-alcoholic beverages were just as amorous and unrestrained as those who had been downing the good stuff.

Does this study offer any wisdom for fixing our worst k-12 schools? Perhaps telling awful teachers that they are, in fact, actually doing a fine job will impel them to act just as competent as their truly skillful peers? Probably not, but the alcohol study is nonetheless interesting.

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In the era of No Child Left Behind, principals are increasingly held accountable for student performance. But are teacher labor agreements giving them enough flexibility to manage effectively? The Leadership Limbo: Teacher Labor Agreements in America's Fifty Largest School Districts, answers this question and others.
At first glance, the explosive growth of 'alternative' teacher certification--which is supposed to allow able individuals to teach in public schools without first passing through a college of education--appears to be one of the great success stories of modern education reform. But, as this report reveals, alternative certification programs have so far failed to provide a real alternative to traditional education schools. In fact, they represent a significant setback for education reform advocates.
Despite its long history and prodigious size, all is not well with Ohio's teacher pension system. In this Fordham Institute report, nationally renowned economists Robert Costrell and Mike Podgursky illuminate some of the serious challenges facing STRS.
Though most public school principals believe that effective leadership of their schools requires authority over personnel decisions (e.g., staff selection, deployment, dismissal), they report having little such authority in practice. Based on a series of interviews with a small sample of district and charter-school principals, the report shows that most district principals encounter a sizable gap between the extent and kinds of authority that leaders need to be effective and the authority that they actually have.
The nation's leading teacher educators made a startling admission last year in their tome, Studying Teacher Education, by conceding there's little evidence that what happens in ed schools helps in the K-12 classroom. Kate Walsh explores why teacher educators are ignoring the achievement gap and, thus, consigning their field to irrelevance.
The standards of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Excellence (NCATE) are of critical import for America's future teaching corps and will wield disproportionate influence for decades to come. Over the past fifteen years, 25 states have outsourced the approval of teacher preparation programs to NCATE by adopting or adapting its standards as their own; the other 25 have various 'partnerships' with the organization. Which makes it all the more disturbing that central to these standards is the call for teachers to possess certain 'dispositions' such as particular attitudes toward 'social justice.' As Professor William Damon of Stanford University explains in Fordham's latest Fwd: Arresting Insights in Education, NCATE's framing of the 'dispositions' issue has given education schools 'unbounded power over what candidates may think and do.' This is leading to (understandable) charges of ideological arm-twisting and Orwellian mind-control.

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