Courage to Teach Fall Dinner/Fund Raiser

Barbara Hummel [bhummel at]: Courage to Teach, an important local effort to renew and support educators in Madison and Dane County, is holding a fall dinner fund-raiser Wednesday, October 27 at CUNA Mutual. Courage to Teach (CTT) is an innovative program that has brought remarkable renewal to public educators in nearly 50 communities across … Continue reading Courage to Teach Fall Dinner/Fund Raiser

The School District of Philadelphia encouraged teachers to attend a conference on “kink,” “BDSM,” “trans sex,” and “masturbation sleeves.”

Christopher Rufo: I have obtained videos from a publicly accessible website that show that the conference went far beyond the school district’s euphemism about “issues facing the trans community.” The event included sessions on topics such as “The Adolescent Pathway: Preparing Young People for Gender-Affirming Care,” “Bigger Dick Energy: Life After Masculinizing [Gender Reassignment Surgery],” “Prosthetics for … Continue reading The School District of Philadelphia encouraged teachers to attend a conference on “kink,” “BDSM,” “trans sex,” and “masturbation sleeves.”

Civics: IRS Denies Tax-Exempt Status To Organization That Encourages Christians To ‘Pray, Vote, Engage’ Because ‘[B]ible Teachings Are Typically Affiliated With The [Republican] Party’

Carly Mayberry: Christian legal organization First Liberty Institute is appealing the recent denial by the IRS to grant tax exemption status to a Texas Christian group that the federal agency alleges supports the Republican Party. In May the IRS denied 501(c)(3) status to the Texas-based prayer group Christians Engaged because it encourages its members to … Continue reading Civics: IRS Denies Tax-Exempt Status To Organization That Encourages Christians To ‘Pray, Vote, Engage’ Because ‘[B]ible Teachings Are Typically Affiliated With The [Republican] Party’

How Elementary School Teachers’ Biases Can Discourage Girls From Math and Science

Claire Cain Miller: We know that women are underrepresented in math and science jobs. What we don’t know is why it happens. There are various theories, and many of them focus on childhood. Parents and toy-makers discourage girls from studying math and science. So do their teachers. Girls lack role models in those fields, and … Continue reading How Elementary School Teachers’ Biases Can Discourage Girls From Math and Science

More Rigorous Requirements for Teacher Education Will Encourage Programs To Emphasize Clinical Training, Focus on Critical Needs of P-12 Schools

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, via a kind reader’s email:

As part of the first major revision of teacher education requirements in 10 years, i nstitutions seeking the NCATE seal of approval must either demonstrate that they are on track to reach an “excellent” level of performance, rather than remain at an “acceptable level,” or make transformative changes in key areas, such as:

  • strengthening the clinical focus of their programs to better prepare educators to meet the needs of today’s P-12 students and foster increases in student learning
  • demonstrating the impact of their programs and graduates on P-12 student learning
  • increasing knowledge about what works in teacher education to improve P-12 student learning, using a research and development strategy to build better knowledge and help institutions use that knowledge to improve programs, and
  • addressing critical needs of schools, such as recruiting talented teachers and bolstering teacher retention.

The new accreditation strategy, approved by the NCATE Executive Board last month, creates two alternative pathways to accreditation. The Continuous Improvement track raises the target level of performance beyond the “acceptable” level. The second pathway, the Transformation Initiative track, encourages institutions to build the base of evidence in the field about what works in teacher preparation and help the P-12 schools they serve address major challenges, from raising student achievement to retaining teachers.

Report From China: “Novels are not taught in class, and teachers encourage outside reading of histories rather than fiction.”

Annie Osborn in the Boston Globe:

Teen’s lessons from China. I am a product of an American private elementary school and public high school, and I am accustomed to classrooms so boisterous that it can be considered an accomplishment for a teacher to make it through a 45-minute class period without handing out a misdemeanor mark. It’s no wonder that the atmosphere at Yanqing No. 1 Middle School (“middle school” is the translation of the Chinese term for high school), for students in grades 10-12, seems stifling to me. Discipline problems are virtually nonexistent, and punishments like lowered test scores are better deterrents for rule breaking than detentions you can sleep through.
But what does surprise me is that, despite the barely controlled chaos that simmers just below the surface during my classes at Boston Latin School, I feel as though I have learned much, much more under the tutelage of Latin’s teachers than I ever could at a place like Yanqing Middle School, which is located in a suburb of Beijing called Yanqing.
Students spend their days memorizing and doing individual, silent written drills or oral drills in total unison. Their entire education is geared toward memorizing every single bit of information that could possibly materialize on, first, their high school entrance exams, and next, their college entrance exams. This makes sense, because admission to public high schools and universities in China is based entirely on test scores (although very occasionally a rich family can buy an admission spot for their child), and competition in the world’s most populous country to go to the top schools makes the American East Coast’s Harvard-or-die mentality look puny.
Chinese students, especially those in large cities or prosperous suburbs and counties and even some in impoverished rural areas, have a more rigorous curriculum than any American student, whether at Charlestown High, Boston Latin, or Exeter. These students work under pressure greater than the vast majority of US students could imagine.

IBM To Encourage Employees to be Teachers

Brian Bergstein: International Business Machines Corp., worried the United States is losing its competitive edge, will financially back employees who want to leave the company to become math and science teachers. The new program, being announced Friday in concert with city and state education officials, reflects tech industry fears that U.S. students are falling behind … Continue reading IBM To Encourage Employees to be Teachers

The Education Department chooses teachers unions over poor kids.

Jonathan Chait: Over the last decade, evidence has grown increasingly strong that public charter schools create better educational outcomes, especially for low-income, minority students in cities. The question hovering over the Biden administration has been whether it will encourage and work to improve charter schools, as the Obama administration did, or instead try to smother them, as teachers unions … Continue reading The Education Department chooses teachers unions over poor kids.

Evanston–Skokie’s school district adopts a curriculum that teaches pre-K through third-grade students to “break the binary” of gender.

Christopher Rufo: Evanston–Skokie School District 65 has adopted a radical gender curriculum that teaches pre-kindergarten through third-grade students to celebrate the transgender flag, break the “gender binary” established by white “colonizers,” and experiment with neo-pronouns such as “ze,” “zir,” and “tree.” I have obtained the full curriculum documents, which are part of the Chicago-area district’s “LGBTQ+ … Continue reading Evanston–Skokie’s school district adopts a curriculum that teaches pre-K through third-grade students to “break the binary” of gender.

A post mortem on the Chicago Teacher walk out that fizzled

Left Voice: Our union members were going in. Some people stopped responding to our chat after the first day. They needed their paycheck, or they didn’t want to ruffle feathers, whatever their reason, they turned their back on us. This was happening everywhere. Since this wasn’t an official strike, people did not see the problem … Continue reading A post mortem on the Chicago Teacher walk out that fizzled

Leaked Documents and Audio from the California Teachers Association Conference Reveal Efforts to Subvert Parents on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation

Abigail Shrier Last month, the California Teachers Association (CTA) held a conference advising teachers on best practices for subverting parents, conservative communities and school principals on issues of gender identity and sexual orientation. Speakers went so far as to tout their surveillance of students’ Google searches, internet activity, and hallway conversations in order to target … Continue reading Leaked Documents and Audio from the California Teachers Association Conference Reveal Efforts to Subvert Parents on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation

“To Encourage the Others”: Making an Example of the National School Boards Association (NSBA)

Michael Watson: The National School Boards Association (NSBA) messed up big time. It sent a letter to the Biden administration calling on the Justice Department to investigate protesting parents under the PATRIOT Act, among other federal anti-terrorism laws. In so doing, the erstwhile representative national association of school board officials exacerbated existing internal disputes over … Continue reading “To Encourage the Others”: Making an Example of the National School Boards Association (NSBA)

Reflections On Elite Education: In A Just World, Would The College I Teach At Exist?

Jonny Thakar: Swarthmore College, where I have taught for the last four years, is run pretty democratically as a result of its Quaker heritage, to the point where any erosion of faculty governance is still noticed and lamented even if the most important decisions seem to be out of our hands. Much of the work … Continue reading Reflections On Elite Education: In A Just World, Would The College I Teach At Exist?

Teacher Dana Stangel-Plowe Speaks Out About Dwight-Englewood School

FAIR: In my professional opinion, the school is failing to encourage healthy habits of mind, essential for growth, such as intellectual curiosity, humility, honesty, reason, and the capacity to question ideas and consider multiple perspectives. In our school, the opportunity to hear competing ideas is practically non-existent. How can students, who accept a single ideology … Continue reading Teacher Dana Stangel-Plowe Speaks Out About Dwight-Englewood School

Commentary on Federal Taxpayer Funds for “racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically responsive teaching and learning practices”

Alex Nester: School districts in recent months have increased their efforts to weave critical race theory—the idea that America’s political and economic systems are inherently racist—into K-12 curriculum standards. The Education Department’s proposal signals the Biden administration’s support for this trend. The rule would allocate federal funding for education contractors who work to “improve” K-12 … Continue reading Commentary on Federal Taxpayer Funds for “racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically responsive teaching and learning practices”

“If individuals on remote assignment can go to a Biden rally or to Animal Kingdom or to a luncheon, they can safely return to in-person teaching”

Scott Travis: The Broward School District has scoured Facebook pages of teachers working remotely to catch them partying and traveling despite COVID-19 fears. The Broward School District has scoured Facebook pages of teachers working remotely to catch them partying, traveling and failing to wear masks at a time the educators say COVID-19 makes it too … Continue reading “If individuals on remote assignment can go to a Biden rally or to Animal Kingdom or to a luncheon, they can safely return to in-person teaching”

Wisconsin’s largest teachers unions again ask state leaders to move all schools to virtual-only instruction

Annysa Johnson: The news conference, which also featured Madison Teachers Inc. President Andy Waity, was part of a national day of action by teachers unions across the country, calling for safe working conditions in schools during the pandemic. The renewed push to bar in-person instruction comes as the number of COVID-19 cases has spiked in the … Continue reading Wisconsin’s largest teachers unions again ask state leaders to move all schools to virtual-only instruction

Analysis: Teaching intolerance in the guise of promoting tolerance

Robert Woodson, Sr. A middle-school teacher in suburban Virginia confided in a friend about a troubling incident that was causing her nightmares. She had touched a student’s sleeve when telling him to quiet down, and he told her: “Take your F— hands off me, old woman, or I’ll smash your face through a window.” She … Continue reading Analysis: Teaching intolerance in the guise of promoting tolerance

Survey sent to Madison teachers details potential for cuts

Scott Girard: A survey from Madison Metropolitan School District administration outlines the potential for more budget cuts coming amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with wage freezes and staff cuts among the options administrators are considering. The two-question survey, sent to staff Friday, states that the district expects an additional $5 million to $9 million budget cut … Continue reading Survey sent to Madison teachers details potential for cuts

The 7 Deadly Errors of Teaching Reading

Lindsay Kemeny: There’s a wrong way to teach reading and, unfortunately, it’s also the most popular way.  So, if you’ve ever committed these teaching errors, don’t worry, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.  I was shocked when I realized that many teacher prep courses and even professional development classes are teaching reading methods not … Continue reading The 7 Deadly Errors of Teaching Reading

Milwaukee Teachers’ Union Governance Climate

Seth Saavedra: On a union blog, MTEA president Amy Mizialko writes that MTEA is using the COVID-19 crisis to “strip back what has been wrongly imposed on our students—relentless standardized testing, scripted curriculum, one-size-fits-all online interventions.” When asked if the “union’s insistence that its members not be required to work during the first three weeks of … Continue reading Milwaukee Teachers’ Union Governance Climate

Disruptive students may not be the easiest to have in class, but perhaps defiance should be encouraged.

Ashley Lamb-Sinclair: It tends to be common knowledge that Albert Einstein was bad at school, but less known is that he was also bad in school. Einstein not only received failing grades—a problem for which he was often summoned to the headmaster’s office—but he also had a bad attitude. He sat in the back of … Continue reading Disruptive students may not be the easiest to have in class, but perhaps defiance should be encouraged.

To ‘Get Reading Right,’ We Need To Talk About What Teachers Actually Do

Natalie Wexler: In recent months, thanks largely to journalist Emily Hanford, it’s become clear that the prevailing approach to teaching kids how to decipher words isn’t backed by evidence. An abundance of research shows that many children—perhaps most—won’t learn to “decode” written text unless they get systematic instruction in phonics. As Hanford has shown, teachers … Continue reading To ‘Get Reading Right,’ We Need To Talk About What Teachers Actually Do

After unapologetically teaching to the ACT, this tiny Wisconsin district now ranks among the state’s best

Samantha West: “We had all the pieces we needed for success,” said Bruggink, who first came to Oostburg as a student teacher and worked his way up to superintendent. “So was there a way we could harness that, that we could bring all that together?” He turned to his teachers for ideas. Together, and with the assistance of a … Continue reading After unapologetically teaching to the ACT, this tiny Wisconsin district now ranks among the state’s best

Madison teachers gather at pep rally for racial equity

Steven Elbow: Some 5,000 educators from the district’s 50 schools gathered at the Alliant Energy Center Monday to start their workweek with the three-hour event, which featured Madison School District officials, a student poet and Bettina Love, a popular speaker on issues of race and education. The event highlighted the importance the district has placed … Continue reading Madison teachers gather at pep rally for racial equity

Lead by example: If you teach children to disrespect teachers, they will do so

Michael Cummins: aybe kids are disrespecting their teachers because adults have taught them to. If, as Muldrow asserted during her campaign, the “theme” in Madison education is “how do we blame black children, how do we hurt black children, how do we get rid of black children, how do we not listen to black children,” … Continue reading Lead by example: If you teach children to disrespect teachers, they will do so

Teachers should enrich life, not worship the machine

John Thornhill: We are already in danger of creating “industrial” school systems, the authors note, in which teachers are reduced to near-automatons, implementing a prescriptive model of education and ticking boxes. “Those trained only to reheat pre-cooked hamburgers are unlikely to become master chefs,” in the words of Andreas Schleicher, the OECD’s director for education … Continue reading Teachers should enrich life, not worship the machine

What’s needed to restock the ranks of talented teachers is more Alyssa Molinskis

jsonline: The number of people making second career decisions to go into teaching or coming to teaching from unconventional backgrounds has increased, and that is, overall, a good thing. But a lot of teachers are needed now and will be needed in coming years and the mainstream way to get into teaching — go to … Continue reading What’s needed to restock the ranks of talented teachers is more Alyssa Molinskis

What They Don’t Teach You at the University of Washington’s Ed School

Nick Wilson: I am not interested in politics or controversy, and I derive no pleasure in creating difficulties for the UW out of personal resentment. But whenever family and friends ask me about graduate school, I have to explain that rather than an academic program centered around pedagogy and public policy, STEP is a 12-month … Continue reading What They Don’t Teach You at the University of Washington’s Ed School

Mulligans for Wisconsin Elementary Reading Teachers

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction “DPI”, lead for many years by new Governor Tony Evers, has waived thousands of elementary reading teacher content knowledge requirements. This, despite our long term, disastrous reading results. Chan Stroman tracks the frequent Foundations of Reading (FoRT) mulligans: Yet the statutory FoRT requirement is now deemed satisfied by “attempts” … Continue reading Mulligans for Wisconsin Elementary Reading Teachers

Teachers Quit Jobs at Highest Rate on Record

Michelle Hackman and Eric Morath: Teachers and other public education employees, such as community-college faculty, school psychologists and janitors, are quitting their jobs at the fastest rate on record, government data shows. A tight labor market with historically low unemployment has encouraged Americans in a variety of occupations to quit their jobs at elevated rates, … Continue reading Teachers Quit Jobs at Highest Rate on Record

Hard Words: Why aren’t kids being taught to read? “The study found that teacher candidates in Mississippi were getting an average of 20 minutes of instruction in phonics over their entire two-year teacher preparation program”

Emily Hanford: Balanced literacy was a way to defuse the wars over reading,” said Mark Seidenberg, a cognitive neuroscientist and author of the book “Language at the Speed of Sight.” “It succeeded in keeping the science at bay, and it allowed things to continue as before.” He says the reading wars are over, and science … Continue reading Hard Words: Why aren’t kids being taught to read? “The study found that teacher candidates in Mississippi were getting an average of 20 minutes of instruction in phonics over their entire two-year teacher preparation program”

To Raise Exceptional Children, Teach Them These 7 Values

Sherrie Campbell: To parent our children to be exceptional, we must allow our children to experience “optimal levels of frustration.” It is our job to love and support them through their struggles, but to refrain from solving their problems for them. We need to equip our children with the insight that their struggles and failures … Continue reading To Raise Exceptional Children, Teach Them These 7 Values

Requesting action one more time on Wisconsin PI-34 teacher licensing

Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via a kind email: Thanks to everyone who contacted the legislature’s Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR) with concerns about the new teacher licensing rules drafted by DPI. As you know, PI-34 provides broad exemptions from the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test (FORT) that go way beyond providing flexibility for … Continue reading Requesting action one more time on Wisconsin PI-34 teacher licensing

Wisconsin DPI efforts to weaken the Foundations of Reading Test for elementary teachers

Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via a kind email: Wisconsin Reading Coalition has alerted you over the past 6 months to DPI’s intentions to change PI-34, the administrative rule that governs teacher licensing in Wisconsin. We consider those changes to allow overly-broad exemptions from the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test for new teachers. The revised PI-34 has … Continue reading Wisconsin DPI efforts to weaken the Foundations of Reading Test for elementary teachers

Commentary on Wisconsin DPI efforts to water down already thin elementary teacher content knowledge requirements.

Wisconsin Reading Coalition: Teachers and more than 180,000 non-proficient, struggling readers* in Wisconsin schools need our support While we appreciate DPI’s concerns with a possible shortage of teacher candidates in some subject and geographical areas, we feel it is important to maintain teacher quality standards while moving to expand pathways to teaching. Statute section 118.19(14) … Continue reading Commentary on Wisconsin DPI efforts to water down already thin elementary teacher content knowledge requirements.

Best teacher in the world Andria Zafirakou: ‘Build trust with your kids – then everything else can happen’

The Guardian: Andria Zafirakou has been functioning on three hours’ sleep a night for weeks, but looks radiant. “It’s adrenaline, it’s excitement, it’s everything.” Nominated by current and former colleagues for the Varkey Foundation’s annual Global Teacher prize, dubbed the Nobel for teaching, last month Zafirakou learned she had been shortlisted from a field of … Continue reading Best teacher in the world Andria Zafirakou: ‘Build trust with your kids – then everything else can happen’

Commentary on Proposed Changes to Wisconsin Teacher Licensing Requirements

Amber Walker: “Candidates graduating from new (teacher preparation) programs will be able to teach in all of the areas…(Teachers) that weren’t prepared in that manner retain the same ability to teach only in the narrow area, such as biology,” McCarthy said in an email to the Cap Times. “We will continue to support pathways for … Continue reading Commentary on Proposed Changes to Wisconsin Teacher Licensing Requirements

“As a Teacher, I Was Complicit in Grade Inflation. Our Low Expectations Hurt Students We Were Supposed to Help”

Emily Langhorne: n November, NPR uncovered a graduation scandal at Ballou High School in Washington, D.C., where half the graduates missed more than 90 days of school. Administrators pressured teachers to pass failing students, including those whom teachers had barely seen. Policy wonks have had a field day with the report, adding graduation scandals to … Continue reading “As a Teacher, I Was Complicit in Grade Inflation. Our Low Expectations Hurt Students We Were Supposed to Help”

Prof: Trigger warnings ‘serious threats’ to teaching English

Toni Airaksinen : In a list of six possible consequences of trigger warnings, he argues that they “foster a culture where student fragility is promoted over the development of resilience,” and can “encourage students to avoid intense literary moments that they may perceive as too powerful.” Trigger warnings could also “handicap English teachers by censoring … Continue reading Prof: Trigger warnings ‘serious threats’ to teaching English

Battered St. Paul teacher meets with Trump officials over school discipline

Josh Verges: In an email to the Pioneer Press, York said her goal is to get school management to implement and enforce safety policies “so teachers can teach and kids can learn in a healthy, risk/trauma-free environment.” Last year, York’s testimony helped strengthen a Minnesota law that warns teachers about students with a history of … Continue reading Battered St. Paul teacher meets with Trump officials over school discipline

Madison Teacher / Student Relationships and Academic Outcomes?

Karen Rivedal: “Kids aren’t going to be able to take risks and push themselves academically, without having a trusting support network there,” said Lindsay Maglio, principal of Lindbergh Elementary School, where some teachers improved on traditional get-to-know-you exercises in the first few weeks of school by adding more searching questions, and where all school staff … Continue reading Madison Teacher / Student Relationships and Academic Outcomes?

Tim Slekar: Next Step in Wisconsin’s War on Teachers

Diane Ravitch Blog, via a kind reader: “The TEACHERS OUR CHILDREN DESERVE will never enter our schools through the dismantling process of deregulating the profession and intentionally lowering standards. The standards were put in place to guarantee a level of expertise. “In summary, “WE DON”T HAVE AN EMERGENCY THAT REQUIRES DUMBING DOWN THE PROFESSION OF … Continue reading Tim Slekar: Next Step in Wisconsin’s War on Teachers

PEJ Releases Video Explaining New Jersey’s Unjust “Last In, First Out” Quality-blind Teacher Layoff Law

Matthew Frankel, via a kind email: A short video that explains New Jersey’s “last in, first out” (LIFO) teacher layoff law was released on social media today by Partnership for Educational Justice (PEJ), the nonprofit supporting six Newark parents and their pro bono legal team in a legal challenge to the constitutionality of this statute. … Continue reading PEJ Releases Video Explaining New Jersey’s Unjust “Last In, First Out” Quality-blind Teacher Layoff Law

CMS teacher connects to students with personalized handshakes

Andie Judson: Most teachers start their day off with attendance, but a local teacher has found his own unique way to connect with students before they enter Room 219. Barry White Junior teaches fifth-grade literacy at Ashley Park PreK-8 School. The Title I school encourages teachers to find creative ways to engage with students. But … Continue reading CMS teacher connects to students with personalized handshakes

“lead to a small increase in average quality of the teaching workforce in individual-salary districts.”

As Stanford University economic researcher Barbara Biasi explains in a new study (which is awaiting peer review), Act 10 created a marketplace for teachers in which public-school districts can compete for better employees. For instance, a district can pay more to recruit and retain “high-value added” teachers—that is, those who most improve student learning. Districts … Continue reading “lead to a small increase in average quality of the teaching workforce in individual-salary districts.”

What employers can do to encourage their workers to retrain

The Economist: Design thinking emphasises action over planning and encourages its followers to look at problems through the eyes of the people affected. Around 100,000 Infosys employees have gone through a series of workshops on it. The first such workshop sets the participants a task: for example, to improve the experience of digital photography. That … Continue reading What employers can do to encourage their workers to retrain

While billions are spent on new schools to boost literacy and growth, teaching standards lag behind

Amy Kazmin: Yet in their zeal to build schools, and to encourage attendance with incentives such as free lunches, Indian policy makers have paid scant attention to what is taking place inside the new classrooms. There has been little serious national debate over how to teach fundamental skills effectively to millions of first-generation students. “The … Continue reading While billions are spent on new schools to boost literacy and growth, teaching standards lag behind

A Letter To My Children: What It Means to Be a Teacher

Sarah Brown Weisling: Dear Evan, Lauren, and Zachary, Many (many) years ago, there was this little girl who spent her summer afternoons creating neighborhood schools for all of the children on her block. She mimicked what school looked like to her: rows of desks, questions and answers, praise and encouragement from the teacher, stickers and … Continue reading A Letter To My Children: What It Means to Be a Teacher

Madison Teachers, Inc. Recertification Campaign

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity newsletter, via a kind Jeannie Kamholtz email (PDF): As previously reported, Governor Walker’s Act 10 requires public sector unions, except police & fire, to participate in an annual recertification election to enable Union members to retain representation by their Union. The election by all MTI-represented District employees will be conducted between … Continue reading Madison Teachers, Inc. Recertification Campaign

Why Teachers Won’t Be Replaced By Software

Elliott Hauser:

Marc Andreesen believes that software is eating the world. It’s a very visceral image, and in one sense it’s absolutely true. Software is spreading into every industry, changing how established players must play and even what the rules of the game are. But while many in Silicon Valley and Educational Technology think that software will “eat” teachers, replacing many of them, at trinket we believe software’s role is to create openness, making teachers better and more connected. Far from there being less teachers in the future, we think openness will enable and encourage more people than ever to teach.
Godawful Teachers?
In the midst of a longer Twitter conversation I was having with him and others (which I will likely blog about separately), Andreesen made an interesting comment:

Teacher Tenure Put to the Test in California Lawsuit

Erica Philips:

On the witness stand here Tuesday, Beatriz Vergara bit her lip and looked toward her mother and sister in the gallery as Eileen Goldsmith, a lawyer for California’s biggest teachers unions, began cross-examining the 15-year-old.
Ms. Vergara is one of nine student plaintiffs in a lawsuit bearing her name that challenges California’s strong employment protections for teachers. She testified earlier that three of her middle-school instructors had failed to teach or discipline students properly. “I think a teacher’s supposed to motivate you, encourage you, keep you going to school,” the 10th-grader said. “If you have a bad teacher, you’re not going to want to go to school.”
How well certain teachers educated Ms. Vergara and her fellow plaintiffs is at the heart of the closely watched case. Research has pointed to teacher quality as the biggest in-school determinant of student performance, and in recent years many states have moved to simplify dismissal procedures for ineffective teachers and encourage districts to consider teacher performance in layoff decisions rather than conducting reductions in force based only on seniority.

How U.S. schools misteach history of racial segregation

CRichard Rothstein:

In the last week, we’ve paid great attention to Nelson Mandela’s call for forgiveness and reconciliation between South Africa’s former white rulers and its exploited black majority. But we’ve paid less attention to the condition that Mandela insisted must underlie reconciliation–truth. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission that Mandela established, and that Bishop Desmond Tutu chaired, was designed to contribute to cleansing wounds of the country’s racist history by exposing it to a disinfecting bright light. As for those Afrikaners who committed even the worst acts of violence against blacks, they could be forgiven and move on only if they acknowledged the full details of their crimes.
In the current issue of the School Administrator, I write that we do a much worse job of facing up to our racial history in the United States, leading us to make less progress than necessary in remedying racial inequality. We have many celebrations of the civil rights movement and its heroes, but we do very little to explain to young people why that movement was so necessary. Earlier this week, the New York Times described how the Alabama Historical Association has placed many commemorative markers around Montgomery to commemorate civil rights heroes like Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks, but declined–because of “the potential for controversy”–to call attention to the city’s slave markets and their role in the spread of slavery before the Civil War. Throughout our nation, this fear of confronting the past makes it more difficult to address and remedy the ongoing existence of urban ghettos, the persistence of the black-white achievement gap, and the continued under-representation of African Americans in higher education and better-paying jobs.
One of the worst examples of our historical blindness is the widespread belief that our continued residential racial segregation, North and South, is “de facto,” not the result of explicit government policy but instead the consequence of private prejudice, economic inequality, and personal choice to self-segregate. But in truth, our major metropolitan areas were segregated by government action. The federal government purposefully placed public housing in high-poverty, racially isolated neighborhoods (pdf) to concentrate the black population, and with explicit racial intent, created a whites-only mortgage guarantee program to shift the white population from urban neighborhoods to exclusively white suburbs (pdf). The Internal Revenue Service granted tax-exemptions for charitable activity to organizations established for the purpose of enforcing neighborhood racial homogeneity. State-licensed realtors in virtually every state, and with the open support of state regulators, supported this federal policy by refusing to permit African Americans to buy or rent homes in predominantly white neighborhoods. Federal and state regulators sanctioned the refusal of the banking, thrift, and insurance industries to make loans to homeowners in other-race communities. Prosecutors and police sanctioned, often encouraged, thousands of acts of violence against African Americans who attempted to move to neighborhoods that had not been designated for their race.

American Association of Educators Contacts Madison Teachers

Madison Teachers, Inc., via a kind Jeannie Kamholtz email (PDF):

Teachers in Madison recently received an email inviting them to join AAE, and for a very inexpensive fee. For only $15 per month, they say, one can be eligible to apply for a scholarship, receive a publication, and information on professional development. Plus, they claim none of their income will be spent on political action, and a member receives protection via liability insurance. The facts are, that none of what AAE offers is needed.

  • MTI negotiates a Collective Bargaining Agreement, and enforces the Collective Bargaining Agreement via grievance and arbitration.
  • MTI represents teachers who are challenged by the District.
  • The District is responsible by Statute to provide liability insurance and MTI members receive additional liability coverage provided through membership as a result of MTI’s
    affiliation with WEAC & NEA.
  • AAE is anti-union. They even tried to stop the Kenosha
    School Board from ratifying the new recently agreed-upon Contracts.
According to the Massachusetts Teachers Association, “The American Association of Educators, is a group backed by some of the deepest pockets in the anti-public education movement (think Koch brothers). The AAE is partnering with the National Right to Work Committee to encourage educators to give up their (Union) membership and join an organization that has affiliates covering just six states. Right-wing foundations provide nearly all of the money to (operate) the AAE Foundation.”
AAE was able to write to each Madison teacher because they obtained teachers’ email addresses via an open records request from the District.

Why Isn’t Harvard Training More Teachers?

Eleanor Barkhorn:

About one in five Harvard seniors applies to Teach for America. However, only a “minuscule” percentage of the class actually studies education, according to Harvard Graduate School of Education Dean James Ryan.
What accounts for this difference? Why are so many of America’s brightest students apparently interested in teaching but not availing themselves of the training their school has to offer?
Part of what’s to blame is a long-standing institutional snobbery toward teaching. As Walter Isaacson put it at this year’s Washington Ideas Forum, there’s a perception that “it’s beneath the dignity of an Ivy League school to train teachers.”
Teach for America has helped change that perception. “I think TFA has done a lot in terms of elevating the profession of teaching and elevating the importance of public education and education generally,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, in conversation with Isaacson, CEO of The Aspen Institute, and Ryan.
But Harvard and other schools like it haven’t made it a priority to encourage students to pursue teaching–and so students are looking for opportunities elsewhere. As Ryan put it, “There’s a tremendous demand for teacher training–and the main outlet is TFA.”

Ten Statements About Teaching

Kevin Werbach:

I’m participating in the #WWEOpen13 MOOC about open online teaching. For the first unit, we were asked to post our “teaching philosophy.” These kinds of questions typically tie me in knots. They seem inherently circular and unsolvable: to say how I should teach, I need to know what students need to learn, which isn’t something I can just declare. For whatever reason, this time I was able to tap out ten statements. I don’t know that I’d call them a philosophy, but they ring true as commitments I feel comfortable with.
Good teaching is good learning… for both the student and the instructor. Learning means new connections and themes and lessons that weren’t there at the beginning.
I believe in a balance between what the instructor and the students contribute. Teaching shouldn’t be a monologue, but it also shouldn’t be purely a peer conversation: students want the guidance and validation and knowledge that the instructor can orchestrate.
Every student should feel they are part of the experience and encouraged to contribute their unique perspectives. In particular, students should not be unfairly disadvantaged by factors such as gender, race, national origin, language, or disability.

Teaching to See

Inge Druckrey:

“A great story beautifully told.”
Ken Carbone, Designer, Chief Creative Director, Carbone Smolan Agency
“This [film] is about patient and dedicated teaching, about learning to look and visualize in order to design, about the importance of drawing. It is one designer’s personal experience of issues that face all designers, expressed with sympathy and encouragement, and illustrated with examples of Inge [Druckrey]’s own work and that of grateful generations of her students. There are simple phrases that give insights into complex matters, for example that letterforms are ‘memories of motion.’ Above all, it is characteristic of Inge that in this examination of basic principles the word “beautiful” is used several times.”
Matthew Carter, type designer, MacArthur Fellow

“allowing only top students to enroll in teacher-training programs, which are themselves far more demanding than such programs in America”

Annie Murphy Paul:

This is the first hint of how Finland does it: rather than “trying to reverse engineer a high-performance teaching culture through dazzlingly complex performance evaluations and value-added data analysis,” as we do, they ensure high-quality teaching from the beginning, allowing only top students to enroll in teacher-training programs, which are themselves far more demanding than such programs in America. A virtuous cycle is thus initiated: better-prepared, better-trained teachers can be given more autonomy, leading to more satisfied teachers who are also more likely to stay on.
Kim soon notices something else that’s different about her school in Pietarsaari, and one day she works up the courage to ask her classmates about it. “Why do you guys care so much?” Kim inquires of two Finnish girls. “I mean, what makes you work hard in school?” The students look baffled by her question. “It’s school,” one of them says. “How else will I graduate and go to university and get a good job?” It’s the only sensible answer, of course, but its irrefutable logic still eludes many American students, a quarter of whom fail to graduate from high school. Ripley explains why: Historically, Americans “hadn’t needed a very rigorous education, and they hadn’t gotten it. Wealth had made rigor optional.” But now, she points out, “everything had changed. In an automated, global economy, kids needed to be driven; they need to know how to adapt, since they would be doing it all their lives. They needed a culture of rigor.”
Rigor on steroids is what Ripley finds in South Korea, the destination of another of her field agents. Eric, who attended an excellent public school back home in Minnesota, is shocked at first to see his classmates in the South Korean city of Busan dozing through class. Some wear small pillows that slip over their wrists, the better to sleep with their heads on their desks. Only later does he realize why they are so tired — they spend all night studying at hagwons, the cram schools where Korean kids get their real education.
Ripley introduces us to Andrew Kim, “the $4 million teacher,” who makes a fortune as one of South Korea’s most in-demand hagwon instructors, and takes us on a ride-along with Korean authorities as they raid hagwons in Seoul, attempting to enforce a 10 p.m. study curfew. Academic pressure there is out of control, and government officials and school administrators know it — but they are no match for ambitious students and their parents, who understand that passing the country’s stringent graduation exam is the key to a successful, prosperous life.

The Smartest Kids in The World And How They Got That Way By Amanda Ripley

What America’s Best Teachers Think About Teaching

Today, as schools across the country wrestle with new approaches to teacher training, evaluation, development and compensation, it is critical to consider and understand the views of teachers themselves. Beyond teachers unions and newer organizations that seek to amplify the opinions of practicing teachers, education leaders and policymakers often turn to scientific polls and surveys such as the MetLife Foundation’s annual Survey of the American Teacher.
In sampling the opinions of all teachers, these surveys provide useful information–some of which we have incorporated into our own research and work–but they also cast a very wide net. While it is important to understand the views of all teachers, we believe the perspectives of our very best teachers are especially important.
Our 2012 study The Irreplaceables showed that improving our nation’s urban schools requires creating policies and working conditions that will attract more outstanding teachers and encourage them to stay in the classroom. We should be building the profession around its finest practitioners. Today, too little is known about the opinions and experiences of top- performing teachers, because researchers rarely focus specifically on them. We launched the Perspectives of Irreplaceable

The Dichotomy of Madison School Board Governance: “Same Service” vs. “having the courage and determination to stay focused on this work and do it well is in itself a revolutionary shift for our district”.

The dichotomy that is Madison School Board Governance was on display this past week.
1. Board Member TJ Mertz, in light of the District’s plan to continue growing spending and property taxes for current programs, suggests that “fiscal indulgences“:

Tax expenditures are not tax cuts. Tax expenditures are socialism and corporate welfare. Tax expenditures are increases on anyone who does not receive the benefit or can’t hire a lobbyist…to manipulate the code to their favor.

be applied to certain school volunteers.
This proposal represents a continuation of the Districts’ decades long “same service” approach to governance, with declining academic results that spawned the rejected Madison Preparatory IB Charter School.
2. Madison’s new Superintendent, Jennifer Cheatham introduced her “Strategic Framework” at Wednesday’s Downtown Rotary Club meeting.
The Superintendent’s letter (jpg version) (within the “framework” document) to the Madison Community included this statement (word cloud):

Rather than present our educators with an ever-changing array of strategies, we will focus on what we know works and implement these strategies extremely well. While some of the work may seem familiar, having the courage and determination to stay focused on this work and do it well is in itself a revolutionary shift for our district. This is what it takes to narrow and eliminate gaps in student achievement.

The Madison School Board’s letter (jpg version) to the community includes this statement:

Public education is under sustained attack, both in our state and across the nation. Initiatives like voucher expansion are premised on the notion that public schools are not up to the challenge of effectively educating diverse groups of students in urban settings.
We are out to prove that wrong. With Superintendent Cheatham, we agree that here in Madison all the ingredients are in place. Now it is up to us to show that we can serve as a model of a thriving urban school district, one that seeks out strong community partnerships and values genuine collaboration with teachers and staff in service of student success.
Our Strategic Framework lays out a roadmap for our work. While some of the goals will seem familiar, what’s new is a clear and streamlined focus and a tangible and energizing sense of shared commitment to our common goals.
The bedrock of the plan is the recognition that learning takes place in the classroom in the interactions between teachers and students. The efforts of all of us – from school board members to everyone in the organization – should be directed toward enhancing the quality and effectiveness of those interactions.
There is much work ahead of us, and the results we are expecting will not arrive overnight. But with focus, shared effort and tenacity, we can transform each of our schools into thriving schools. As we do so, Madison will be the school district of choice in Dane County.

Madison School Board word cloud:

Related: North Carolina Ends Pay Boosts for Teacher Master’s Degrees; Tenure for elementary and high-school teachers also eliminated

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, signed a budget bill Friday that eliminates teacher tenure and–in a rare move–gets rid of the automatic pay increase teachers receive for earning a master’s degree.
The legislation targets a compensation mechanism that is common in the U.S., where teachers receive automatic pay increases for years of service and advanced degrees. Some research has suggested those advanced degrees don’t lead to improved teaching.
Although a few other states have talked about doing away with the automatic pay increase for advanced degrees, experts say North Carolina is believed to be the first state to do so.
The budget bill–which drew hundreds of teachers to the Capitol in protest earlier this week–also eliminates tenure for elementary and high-school teachers and freezes teacher salaries for the fifth time in six years.
It comes as states and districts across the country are revamping teacher evaluations, salaries and job security, and linking them more closely to student performance. These changes have been propelled, in part, by the Obama administration and GOP governors.

The challenge for Madison is moving away from long time governance structures and practices, including a heavy (157 page pdf & revised summary of changes) teacher union contract. Chris Rickert’s recent column on Madison’s healthcare practices provides a glimpse at the teacher – student expenditure tension as well.
Then Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman’s 2009 Madison Rotary speech offers important background on Madison’s dichotomy:

“Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk – the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee. Adult practices and attitudes have become embedded in organizational culture governed by strict regulations and union contracts that dictate most of what occurs inside schools today. Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It’s as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands.” Zimman went on to discuss the Wisconsin DPI’s vigorous enforcement of teacher licensing practices and provided some unfortunate math & science teacher examples (including the “impossibility” of meeting the demand for such teachers (about 14 minutes)). He further cited exploding teacher salary, benefit and retiree costs eating instructional dollars (“Similar to GM”; “worry” about the children given this situation).

“Budget Cuts: We Won’t Be as Bold and Innovative as Oconomowoc, and That’s Okay”.

Teaching to See

Inge Druckery:

“This [film] is about patient and dedicated teaching, about learning to look and visualize in order to design, about the importance of drawing. It is one designer’s personal experience of issues that face all designers, expressed with sympathy and encouragement, and illustrated with examples of Inge [Druckrey]’s own work and that of grateful generations of her students. There are simple phrases that give insights into complex matters, for example that letterforms are ‘memories of motion.’ Above all, it is characteristic of Inge that in this examination of basic principles the word ‘beautiful’ is used several times.”
Matthew Carter
Type Designer, 2010 MacArthur Fellow

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity newsletter, via a kind Jeannie Bettner email (PDF):

What’s the first ingredient necessary to address workplace concerns? The opportunity to talk with colleagues to identify areas of common concerns and brainstorm about possible solutions. That’ s the conclusion reached by the clerical and technical employees who attended the March 20 SEE-MTI General Membership meeting. In response, SEE-MTI President Kris Schiltz and MTI staff rep Doug Keillor agreed to schedule monthly membership organizing workshops to provide: 1) an opportunity to get together to talk and 2) to further develop an organizing approach to problem-solving. The first workshop was held on April 24, and the next workshop will be held soon with notice in MTI Solidarity!.
The organizing workshops are structured to provide a brief update on what is happening across the district relative to SEE unit concerns (e.g. surplus declarations, budget proposals, etc.) and then those present breakout (e.g. elementary, middle, high, administration) to discuss their concerns, facilitated by their unit rep. Following the small group discussions the participants reconvene to report on topics of discussion and organizing relative to the identified issues.
While MTI has used similar organizing models on a smaller scale for years, the monthly SEE-MTI member organizing workshops are an attempt to further institutionalize this approach, engaging more Union members in the process and leading to better potential outcomes.
All SEE-MTI members are welcome and encouraged to attend. Join your fellow Union members in working for positive change in the District!

Milwaukee teacher’s linguistics class an example of valuable, enterprising course

Alan Borsuk:

Think of all the different ways you can say the word interesting. Different inflections carry different messages. Different accents change what letters are sounded or the number of syllables and can hint at your background. Probe the word and it can become really interesting – and educational.
Here’s another thing that’s interesting, educational and, I would add, a special jewel in Milwaukee education: The linguistics class at the Milwaukee School of Languages taught by Suzanne Loosen.
If I had taken this class when I was in high school, I would remember it to this day, 45 years later. Which got me thinking about two questions:
What makes a high school class especially memorable and valuable? What are we doing to encourage, support and respect classes such as this one and teachers such as Loosen?
A few things are special about Loosen’s class:
First, the course itself. Linguistics – “the scientific study of language,” as Loosen teaches her students – is normally a college-level subject. Best as Loosen knows, the course, an elective for 10th through 12th-grade students, is the only high school class in the nation devoted entirely to the subject, although many teachers include linguistics as part of broader courses.
Second, the enterprising aspects of creating the course. There are pluses to the increasingly standardized, regulated and monitored world of education. But there are minuses, like not seeing very often what Loosen offers: the creativity and zest of teaching a beloved subject that is a bit off the conventional path.

“Sadly, many teachers working with our children at the start of their mathematical journeys are not themselves comfortable with the mathematics they are trying to teach.”

Susan Schwartz Wildstrom:

I am moved to respond to Sol Garfunkel’s “Opinion” article.1 I am a long-time high school mathematics teacher in a public school. I started teaching around the time of SMSG and have been in the trenches throughout several of the math wars. I know Dr. Garfunkel’s fine work in creating interesting modeling projects and his outspoken opinion that using technology to solve problems that apply the mathematics we are teaching will better concretize students’ understanding of the underlying mathematics. It sounds like a fine idea, but the reality is often very different.
Our problems in teaching mathematics begin in elementary school. Sadly, many teachers working with our children at the start of their mathematical journeys are not themselves comfortable with the mathematics they are trying to teach. They often only know one way to teach an idea and they may not fully understand how that method works and why it gives the right answers. Such a teacher confronted with an alternate creative method (perhaps suggested by a clever child or a seasoned colleague) may reject the alternative rather than trying to see how and why two methods produce the same result. Beyond stifling the creativity of students and discouraging them from trying to see how the mathematics works, such an approach is not fertile ground for applications and modeling projects in which creative exploration and possibly unorthodox methods are encouraged as a means of truly understanding what is happening. Teachers who lack confidence in their own understanding of the ideas may not want to include these sorts of activities in their classrooms.

Related: Math Forum audio & video.

Why Public Schools Should Teach the Bible

Roma Downey & Mark Burnett:

Have you ever sensed in your own life that “the handwriting was on the wall”? Or encouraged a loved one to walk “the straight and narrow”?
Have you ever laughed at something that came “out of the mouths of babes”? Or gone “the extra mile” for an opportunity that might vanish “in the twinkling of an eye”?
If you have, then you’ve been thinking of the Bible.
These phrases are just “a drop in the bucket” (another biblical phrase) of the many things we say and do every day that have their origins in the most read, most influential book of all time. The Bible has affected the world for centuries in innumerable ways, including art, literature, philosophy, government, philanthropy, education, social justice and humanitarianism. One would think that a text of such significance would be taught regularly in schools. Not so. That is because of the “stumbling block” (the Bible again) that is posed by the powers that be in America.

Is teachers union boss John Matthews behind the Manski-gate conspiracy?

David Blaska:

The Madison Machine has put the fix in to elect a school board wholly beholden to the teachers union. No one suffers more than the poorly served minority community in Madison. Its candidates are being undermined for the benefit of the insider power structure that has allowed the minority achievement gap to grow to alarming levels.
Madison School Board member Mary Burke supports my suspicions. She says Madison Teachers Inc. president John Matthews is the brains behind Sarah Manski’s Trojan horse candidacy. Whoever is its author, the gambit succeeded in blocking a freethinking minority candidate, Ananda Mirilli, from surviving the front-end-loaded primary, so precipitously concluded.
For the record, John Matthews responded with a monosyllabic “no” mid-Sunday afternoon to my inquiry: “Is Mary Burke correct? Are you the brains behind the Sarah Manski bait and switch?”
So far, School Board member Marj Passman, the union’s most vociferous defender, and a longtime water carrier for the union, is left holding the bag. Matthew DeFour’s fine reportage in Saturday’s Wisconsin State Journal reports this:
Manski said she didn’t plan to run for School Board, but entered the race because Passman and a few other people [my italics] very strongly encouraged her to run. She declined to say who the other people were.

Program teaches healthy habits for young and old

Pamela Cotant:

Jane Qualle found a nice fit with the CATCH Healthy Habits program when she looked for volunteer opportunities after she retired as a nurse.
CATCH Healthy Habits in Madison pairs adults 50 and older with children at various sites to encourage healthier eating and physical activity. It also is aimed at helping the adults, who can learn alongside the children and receive benefits by volunteering. CATCH stands for Coordinated Approach To Child Health.
After first volunteering at a site farther away from her home, Qualle volunteered at the Mendota Elementary School site, which was about a mile from home.
She usually walks, which allows her to get some exercise and serve as a role model for the children.
“I’m just a believer — the more active you are, the healthier you are,” Qualle said. “It’s an opportunity for kids to actually play rather than sitting in front of the TV or computer.”

Montgomery superintendent shows courage in denouncing standardized tests

Robert McCartney:

For more than a decade, school standardized tests have been the magic keys that were supposed to unlock the door to a promised realm of American students able to read and do sums as well as their counterparts in Asia and Europe.
A generation of U.S. education reformers has assured us that if we would just rely mostly on test scores and other hard data to guide decisions, then all manner of good results would ensue. Foundations gave millions of dollars to encourage it. The Obama administration embraced the cause, lest it stand accused of short-changing kids.
It was always a fairy tale. Tests are necessary, of course, but the mania for them has become self-defeating. They don’t account for the vast differences in children’s social, economic and family backgrounds. Good teachers give up on proven classroom techniques and instead “teach to the test.”
Now, finally, somebody with standing is getting attention for denouncing the madness.
The truth-teller is one of our own from the Washington region, Montgomery County Superintendent Joshua P. Starr. He has only been here for a year and a half, but he arrived with an impressive résumé and is emerging as a credible national voice urging a more reasoned and deliberate path to educational progress.

Teachers brought disrespect on themselves

Tom Consigny

Last week state schools superintendent Tony Evers presented his status of education in Wisconsin report and encouraged residents to show more respect and value for teachers. He missed the point — he should have challenged teachers to cease their whining, their defiant and disorderly assemblies and illegal strikes, which we have endured in recent years.
The teachers and Madison union leader John Matthews should recognize the considerable damage they have done to their reputation and credibility. They have forgotten who continues to provide their generous salaries for a nine-month job.

Unsure robots make better teachers than know-alls

Douglas Haven, via a kind reader:

The best way to learn is to teach. Now a classroom robot that helps Japanese children learn English has put that old maxim to the test.
Shizuko Matsuzoe and Fumihide Tanaka at the University of Tsukuba, Japan, set up an experiment to find out how different levels of competence in a robot teacher affected children’s success in learning English words for shapes.
They observed how 19 children aged between 4 and 8 interacted with a humanoid Nao robot in a learning game in which each child had to draw the shape that corresponded to an English word such as ‘circle’, ‘square’, ‘crescent’, or ‘heart’.
The researchers operated the robot from a room next to the classroom so that it appeared weak and feeble, and the children were encouraged to take on the role of carers. The robot could then either act as an instructor, drawing the correct shape for the child, or make mistakes and act as if it didn’t know the answer.

Chicago Teachers Union on Strike – Administration offered 16% Salary Increase over 4 Years, Charter Schools Unaffected

Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Joel Hood and Kristen Mack:

“This is about as much as we can do,” Vitale said. “There is only so much money in the system.”
The district said it offered teachers a 16 percent pay raise over four years and a host of benefit proposals.
“This is not a small commitment we’re handing out at a time when our fiscal situation is really challenged,” Vitale said.
Lewis said the two sides are close on teacher compensation but the union has serious concerns about the cost of health benefits, the makeup of the teacher evaluation system and job security.

More from
Justin Katz and Daily Kos.

Analysis: Striking Chicago teachers take on national education reform.

Chicago teachers walk picket lines for first time in 25 years.
Update: Madison Teachers’, Inc. [PDF] on the CTU Strike:

MTI Stands with Chicago Teachers
In August, over 90% of the members of the Chicago Teachers’ Union voted for authorization to strike. Our CTU brothers and sisters have long been fighting against the charter school initiatives supported by Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a Democratic city council. On August 22, several MTI members attended a “Solidarity with CTU” night at SCFL. MTI members made up almost half the room. CTU member Becca Kelly spoke passionately about the injustice, inequity and blatant racism present in Chicago Public School policies and closures. In an interview, Chicago Teachers’ Union President Karen Lewis stated, “Our students deserve smaller class sizes, a robust, well-rounded curriculum, and in-school services that address their social, emotional, intellectual and health needs. They deserve culturally-sensitive non-biased and equitable education, especially students with IEPs, emergent bilingual students and early childhood children. And all of our students deserve professional teachers who are treated as such, fully resourced school buildings and a school system that partners with parents.” This is what the CTU is fighting for.
This past year CTU fought side by side with parents to halt 17 schools closings or “turn arounds” in the city. The parents did secure a meeting with the city council, but all 17 schools were closed. Next year, Kelly shared, there are over 70 Chicago Public Schools identified for “turn around or closing.”
On August 22, the MTI Board voted unanimously to support the resolutions put forth by the CTU. The MTI Board also recommended further fundraising efforts. MTI President Kerry Motoviloff spoke in support of the CTU that evening. She called for MTI members to stand with our CTU brothers and sisters as they stood with us when we called them. Speaking of the anti-worker movement, she said, “This is not a Madison issue. This is not a Chicago issue. This is not a Wisconsin issue. This is not even limited to a union issue. This is a worker issue.” She continued, “Scott Walker, Rahm Emanuel, they cannot define us. They can make things difficult. They can give us hoops to jump thorough. They can try to throw us off our focus to play defense. But the more we control our message, our voice, the more potent our acts become. This is all one fight. We are all one movement. We will win this.” The Chicago Teachers Union has published a booklet and a page of 10 talking points, both can be downloaded in PDF on the CTU website. Members are encouraged to visit it for more details. MTI will keep members abreast of future solidarity actions.

CTU Parent Flyer (PDF) and CTU in the news (PDF).
Stephanie Banchero:

The Chicago battle has pitted Karen Lewis, one of the country’s most vocal labor leaders, against Mr. Emanuel, one of its most prominent mayors and the former White House chief of staff for President Barack Obama. The Democratic mayor has made efforts to overhaul the city’s public education a centerpiece of his administration.
The two sides have been negotiating for months over issues including wages, health-care benefits and job security. The city has offered teachers a 3% pay raise the first year and 2% annual raises for the next three years. The average teacher salary in Chicago is about $70,000.
On Sunday night, city officials and union leaders said the wage issues aren’t the sticking point. Rather, the two sides are at loggerheads over a new teacher-evaluation system and how much of it should be weighted on student test scores, and over job security for teachers laid off from low-performing schools.

A Look At The Changes To D.C.’S Teacher Evaluation System

Matthew Di Carlo:

D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) recently announced a few significant changes to its teacher evaluation system (called IMPACT), including the alteration of its test-based components, the creation of a new performance category (“developing”), and a few tweaks to the observational component (discussed below). These changes will be effective starting this year.
As with any new evaluation system, a period of adjustment and revision should be expected and encouraged (though it might be preferable if the first round of changes occurs during a phase-in period, prior to stakes becoming attached). Yet, despite all the attention given to the IMPACT system over the past few years, these new changes have not been discussed much beyond a few quick news articles.
I think that’s unfortunate: DCPS is an early adopter of the “new breed” of teacher evaluation policies being rolled out across the nation, and any adjustments to IMPACT’s design – presumably based on results and feedback – could provide valuable lessons for states and districts in earlier phases of the process.
Accordingly, I thought I would take a quick look at three of these changes.

Utah ed leaders: Share teacher data with parents

Lisa Schencker:

Parents may soon be able to learn how their children’s individual teachers rate when it comes to student achievement.
But the general public will not be given access to that information.
The Utah state school board jumped this week into what’s become a national debate over whether individual teacher performance data should be released publicly. The board voted 9-6 on Friday to encourage school principals to share classroom-level achievement data with parents who ask for it. But the data will not be posted publicly, meaning nonparents will not have access to it, and parents will not likely be able to see that information for schools other than their own.

This Morning @ Madison’s Thoreau Elementary School While Voting; Latest Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter

The 2012 Wisconsin recall election primary is today. Teacher appreciation week is underway as well.

Teachers – the people who educate us and give us the vital knowledge which we need to live our lives. They encourage, support, discipline and prepare us for the road ahead and now it’s time for us to show them our appreciation. Teacher Appreciation Week begins on the 7th until the 11th of May 2012, which will be the perfect opportunity for us to show teachers how thankful we are for their support. So boys and girls, it’s time for us to demonstrate how much our teachers mean to us, let’s all say a big thank you to the people who work really hard so that we can have a better future.
The 8th of May 2012 will mark Teacher Appreciation Day and students all across America will show their appreciation by rewarding their teachers with lovely gifts. These gifts can come in a variety of shapes and sizes – remember, it’s the thought that counts! Your school will also have a special schedule lined up which will provide many outlets for you to show how much you’re teacher means to you. Maybe you could write your teacher a poem or even a story about your favorite memory. You may also choose to make you’re teacher a “best teacher in the world” award, and present it to him or her during the week.

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter (PDF):

If you are not among those who voted early, be sure you vote tomorrow. The terrible legislation, Act 10, which has put your economic security and your employment security at risk would not be on
the books if voter turnout in 2010 had been as great as in 2008. 812,086 fewer people voted in Wisconsin in 2010 than in 2008. Governor Walker won by only 124,638. Every MTI member doing their part will help reverse Act 10 and restore your rights and security. No matter who wins the primary, we need ALL HANDS ON DECK to rid our state of Governor Walker’s divisive approach to balancing the budget on the backs of working families, cuts to public education, women’s health and the dismantling of the safety net, in favor of continued tax breaks to out-of-state corporate interests funding his campaign and his legal defense fund. The far-right is trying to make Wisconsin the model for how to break unions. Join those standing up against Act 10 by ensuring that everyone votes on June 5!
MTI Faculty Representatives will schedule a meeting at each work site to discuss the effective ways to increase voter turnout. Make contact with friends and family, encourage them to vote, make a phone call or send a note or email the importance of this election. Personal contact makes a big difference.
MTI members will be making calls to union households from the Labor Temple and participating in door-to-door contacts. These efforts are aimed at reaching the infrequent voters, particularly those who voted in 2008 and did not vote in 2010. We need them to assure success. This election will directly impact the future of your profession, your pay and your benefits, your security and the future of public education.
Action is needed to assure success. See for ways to get involved.

How can schools teach students to be more innovative? Offer hands-on classes and don’t penalize failure

Tony Wagner:

Most of our high schools and colleges are not preparing students to become innovators. To succeed in the 21st-century economy, students must learn to analyze and solve problems, collaborate, persevere, take calculated risks and learn from failure. To find out how to encourage these skills, I interviewed scores of innovators and their parents, teachers and employers. What I learned is that young Americans learn how to innovate most often despite their schooling–not because of it.
Though few young people will become brilliant innovators like Steve Jobs, most can be taught the skills needed to become more innovative in whatever they do. A handful of high schools, colleges and graduate schools are teaching young people these skills–places like High Tech High in San Diego, the New Tech high schools (a network of 86 schools in 16 states), Olin College in Massachusetts, the Institute of Design ( at Stanford and the MIT Media Lab. The culture of learning in these programs is radically at odds with the culture of schooling in most classrooms.

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter

Madison Teachers Inc 92K PDF Newsletter:

EMOCRACY IS NOT A SPECTATOR SPORT. That is one message that should be evident with all that has happened in the last year. A functioning democracy requires an informed and engaged citizenry. Such is as true with union democracy as it is in a political democracy. MTI is a union of 4,700 members in five bargaining units, each with Bylaws enabling democratic governance to ensure the union reflects the will of its members. Each MTI unit elects its leadership – every member has a vote, and is free to seek office. Also, Collective Bargaining Agreements are subject to member ratification, with every member having a vote. Similarly, the MTI Budget is enacted only after approval by the MTI Finance Committee and by approval by the MTI Joint Fiscal Group, which is comprised of representatives proportionate to the membership of each of the five bargaining units. But,just like the right of suffrage cannot ensure voter participation, neither can union Bylaws ensure member participation in the union. Only you can. YOU ARE THE UNION.
In the coming months, your union will be engaging in a number of initiatives to further engage individuals in discussion about your union, what we have achieved together, what is at risk, and where we can go from the terrible situation created by Governor Walker’s Act 10. Beginning with a Member Engagement Survey which is being sent to the personal e-mail addresses of all MTI members who have shared their email address with the Union from all five bargaining units. Members are encouraged to take ten minutes to complete the on-line survey and share their thoughts. If you have not already provided your personal e-mail address to MTI, please do so now by contacting Those for whom MTI does not have a personal email address may access the survey on MTI’s webpage or by calling MTI Headquarters (257-0491).

The Headless Horseman (Teacher-Proof Rides Again)

Jeremehia Chafee:

The high school English department in which I work recently spent a day looking at what is called an “exemplar” from the new Common Core State Standards, and then working together to create our own lessons linked to that curriculum. An exemplar is a prepackaged lesson which is supposed to align with the standards of the Common Core. The one we looked at was a lesson on “The Gettysburg Address.”
The process of implementing the Common Core Standards is under way in districts across the country as almost every state has now signed onto the Common Core, (some of them agreeing to do in hopes of winning Race to the Top money from Washington D.C.). The initiative is intended to ensure that students in all parts of the country are learning from the same supposedly high standards.
As we looked through the exemplar, examined a lesson previously created by some of our colleagues, and then began working on our own Core-related lessons, I was struck by how out of sync the Common Core is with what I consider to be good teaching. I have not yet gotten to the “core” of the Core, but I have scratched the surface, and I am not encouraged.
Here are some of the problems that the group of veteran teachers with whom I was with at the workshop encountered using the exemplar unit on “The Gettysburg Address.”

Each teacher read individually through the exemplar lesson on Lincoln’s speech. When we began discussing it, we all expressed the same conclusion: Most of it was too scripted. It spelled out what types of questions to ask, what types of questions not to ask, and essentially narrowed any discussion to obvious facts and ideas from the speech.
In some schools, mostly in large urban districts, teachers are forced by school policy to read from scripted lessons, every day in every class. For example, all third-grade teachers do the same exact lessons on the same day and say exactly the same things. (These districts often purchase these curriculum packages from the same companies who make the standardized tests given to students.)
Scripting lessons is based on several false assumptions about teaching. They include:

  • That anyone who can read a lesson aloud to a class can teach just as well as experienced teachers;
  • That teaching is simply the transference of information from one person to another;
  • That students should not be trusted to direct any of their own learning;
  • That testing is the best measure of learning.

Put together, this presents a narrow and shallow view of teaching and learning.
Most teachers will tell you that there is a difference between having a plan and having a script. Teachers know that in any lesson there needs to be some wiggle room, some space for discovery and spontaneity. But scripted cookie-cutter lessons aren’t interested in that; the idea is that they will help students learn enough to raise their standardized test scores.
Yet study after study has shown that even intense test preparation does not significantly raise test scores, and often causes stress and boredom in students. Studies have also shown that after a period of time, test scores plateau, and it is useless, even counter-productive educationally, to try to raise test scores beyond that plateau.

Another problem we found relates to the pedagogical method used in the Gettysburg Address exemplar that the Common Core calls “cold reading.”
This gives students a text they have never seen and asks them to read it with no preliminary introduction. This mimics the conditions of a standardized test on which students are asked to read material they have never seen and answer multiple choice questions about the passage.
Such pedagogy makes school wildly boring. Students are not asked to connect what they read yesterday to what they are reading today, or what they read in English to what they read in science.
The exemplar, in fact, forbids teachers from asking students if they have ever been to a funeral because such questions rely “on individual experience and opinion,” and answering them “will not move students closer to understanding the Gettysburg Address.”
(This is baffling, as if Lincoln delivered the speech in an intellectual vacuum; as if the speech wasn’t delivered at a funeral and meant to be heard in the context of a funeral; as if we must not think about memorials when we read words that memorialize. Rather, it is impossible to have any deep understanding of Lincoln’s speech without thinking about the context of the speech: a memorial service.)
The exemplar instructs teachers to “avoid giving any background context” because the Common Core’s close reading strategy “forces students to rely exclusively on the text instead of privileging background knowledge, and levels the playing field for all.” What sense does this make?
Teachers cannot create such a “level playing field” because we cannot rob any of the students of the background knowledge they already possess. Nor can we force students who have background knowledge not to think about that while they read. A student who has read a biography of Lincoln, or watched documentaries about the Civil War on PBS or the History Channel, will have the “privilege” of background knowledge beyond the control of the teacher. Attempting to create a shallow and false “equality” between students will in no way help any of them understand Lincoln’s speech.
(As a side note, the exemplar does encourage teachers to have students “do the math:” subtract four score and seven from 1863 to arrive at 1776. What is that if not asking them to access background knowledge?)
Asking questions about, for example, the causes of the Civil War, are also forbidden. Why? These questions go “outside the text,” a cardinal sin in Common Core-land.
According to the exemplar, the text of the speech is about equality and self-government, and not about picking sides. It is true that Lincoln did not want to dishonor the memory of the Southern soldiers who fought and died valiantly. But does any rational person read “The Gettysburg Address” and not know that Lincoln desperately believed that the North must win the war? Does anyone think that he could speak about equality without everyone in his audience knowing he was talking about slavery and the causes of the war? How can anyone try to disconnect this profoundly meaningful speech from its historical context and hope to “deeply” understand it in any way, shape, or form?

Here’s another problem we found with the exemplar: The teacher is instructed in the exemplar to read the speech aloud after the students have read it to themselves; but, it says, “Do not attempt to ‘deliver’ Lincoln’s text as if giving the speech yourself but rather carefully speak Lincoln’s words clearly to the class.”
English teachers love Shakespeare; when we read to our classes from his plays, we do not do so in a dry monotone. I doubt Lincoln delivered his address in as boring a manner as the Common Core exemplar asks. In fact, when I read this instruction, I thought that an interesting lesson could be developed by asking students to deliver the speech themselves and compare different deliveries in terms of emphasis, tone, etc.
The exemplar says, “Listening to the Gettysburg Address is another way to initially acquaint students with Lincoln’s powerful and stirring words.” How, then, if the teacher is not to read it in a powerful and stirring way? The most passionate speech in Romeo and Juliet, delivered poorly by a bad actor, will fall flat despite the author’s skill.

Several years ago, our district, at the demand of our state education department, hired a consultant to train teachers to develop literacy skills in students. This consultant and his team spent three years conducting workshops and visiting the district. Much of this work was very fruitful, but it does not “align” well with the Common Core.
The consultant encouraged us to help students make connections between what they were reading and their own experience, but as you’ve seen, the Common Core exemplar we studied says not to.
Was all that work with the consultant wasted?
At one point during the workshop, we worked with a lesson previously created by some teachers. It had all the hallmarks of what I consider good teaching, including allowing students to make connections beyond the text.
And when it came time to create our own lessons around the exemplar, three colleagues and I found ourselves using techniques that we know have worked to engage students — not what the exemplar puts forth.
The bottom line: The Common Core exemplar we worked with was intellectually limiting, shallow in scope, and uninteresting. I don’t want my lessons to be any of those things.

Dumbing down of state education has made Britain more unequal than 25 years ago; In the name of equality, anti-elitist teachers are betraying the hopes of the young.

Toby Young:

A controversy broke out on Twitter earlier this week about an article in the Times Educational Supplement in which a teacher called Jonny Griffiths describes a conversation with a bright sixth-former who’s worried about his exam results. “Apart from you, Michael, who cares what you get in your A-levels?” he says. “What is better: to go to Cambridge with three As and hate it or go to Bangor with three Cs and love it?”
The controversy was not about whether the teacher was right to discourage his student to apply to Cambridge – no one thought that, obviously – but whether the article was genuine. Was Jonny Griffiths a real teacher or the fictional creation of a brilliant Tory satirist? Most people found it hard to believe that a teacher who didn’t want his pupils to do well could be in gainful employment.
Alas, Mr Griffiths is all too real. Since 2009, when I first mooted the idea of setting up a free school devoted to academic excellence, I’ve come across dozens of examples of the same attitude, all equally jaw-dropping.

We’ve certainly seen such initiatives locally. They include English 10, Connected Math and the ongoing use of Reading Recovery.
Perhaps Wisconsin’s Read to Lead initiative offers some hope with its proposal to tie teacher licensing to teacher content knowledge.
Related: Examinations for teachers, past and present.
There are certainly many parents who make sure that their children learn what is necessary through tutors, third parties, personal involement, camps, or online services. However, what about the children who don’t have such family resources and/or awareness?

It’s The Teacher!

Harrison Blackmond:

My views about education are, like many others, informed by my own experiences. Born the son of a black sharecropper in rural Alabama near the end of WWII, I attended segregated schools for most of my early years of education, including the first three. And, my teachers in Alabama were all black, all female. The remainder of my primary and secondary schooling was in low income, mostly black communities in Cincinnati, Ohio. All of my teachers in Cincinnati were white and mostly female. I had both good and bad educational experiences in Alabama and Ohio. The one thing these experiences had in common was that those experiences, both good and bad, were determined by the quality of teachers I had. No surprise there.
What is surprising is that the good teachers I had overcame all the “social and economic disabilities” a student like me brought to class with him. My parents were typical of most black families: uneducated or under-educated. My father had no education and could not read or write. My mother had a fifth or sixth grade education. So she could read and write, but knew little about how urban education systems worked. We were very poor, living on the largess of the landowners where we lived in Alabama and on welfare most of the time in Cincinnati. I worked at school and after school from seventh grade on. My experience was not atypical. Most of my classmates had similar stories. Some of us succeeded against great odds. The ones who did succeed educationally did so because there were teachers along the way who encouraged, inspired, and demanded our best.

Teach to the Test? Most of the problems with testing have one surprising source: cheating by school administrators and teachers.

Richard P. Phelps, via a kind email:

Every year, the education magazine Phi Delta Kappan hires the Gallup Organization to survey American opinion on the public schools. Though Gallup conducts the poll, education grandees selected by the editors of the Kappan write the questions. In 2007 the poll asked, “Will the current emphasis on standardized tests encourage teachers to ‘teach to the tests,’ that is, concentrate on teaching their students to pass the tests rather than teaching the subject, or don’t you think it will have this effect?”
The key to the question, of course, is the “rather than”–the assumption by many critics that test preparation and good teaching are mutually exclusive. In their hands, “teach to the test” has become an epithet. The very existence of content standards linked to standardized tests, in this view, narrows the curriculum and restricts the creativity of teachers–which of course it does, in the sense that teachers in standards-based systems cannot organize their instructional time in any fashion they prefer.
A more subtle critique is that teaching to the test can be good or bad. If curricula are carefully developed by educators and the test is written with curricula in mind, then teaching to the test means teaching students the knowledge and skills we agree they ought to learn–exactly what our teachers are legally and ethically obligated to do.

The courage of Kaleem Caire

Dave Cieslewicz:

Kaleem Caire has only been back in Madison for less than two years, but he sure has grabbed our attention.
Caire didn’t waste any time after coming home from a successful private sector career on the East Coast to be the new president for the Urban League of Greater Madison, starting to shake up the local establishment more or less immediately upon arrival. He has been pushing a bold proposal to attack the long-standing issue of minority underachievement in the Madison public schools. His idea for the Madison Preparatory Academy was vetted well in Nathan Comp’s cover story for Isthmus last week.
For well over a year now, Caire has been shuttling between the district administration, Madison Teachers, Inc. (MTI) union leaders, school board members, parents, editorial boards and community meetings fighting for this idea.
In response to union and district administration concerns, he changed the proposal to make the school an “instrumentality” of the district, meaning it would be under school board control and be staffed by MTI member teachers. But that proposal came in at a cost for the district of $13 million over five years. Superintendent Dan Nerad, for whom I have a lot of respect, told the League that he couldn’t support anything over $5 million.

Duncan encourages states to ditch No Child Left Behind

Prescott Carlson:

A week after President Obama said he planned to rollback No Child Left Behind requirements, a majority of states have indicated they’re on board with the plan, and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is encouraging others to do the same.
In a recent appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Duncan said that he wants “to get out of the way of the states,” and that teachers need “room to move and we can’t keep beating down from Washington.”
In a letter to state education officials, Duncan stated that he was encouraging state and local government agencies to request waivers to NCLB, which Duncan says he is able to enact through a section in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. The new waivers will provide flexibility to school curriculum, provided that the governing bodies meet certain requirements.

Madison Prep and Teacher’s Union Collaborate: What’s it all about?

Kaleem Caire, via email:

October 3, 2011
Dear Friends & Colleagues.
As the Wisconsin State Journal and The Capital Times newspapers reported over the weekend, the Urban League of Greater Madison, the new Board of Madison Preparatory Academy and Madison Teachers, Inc., the local teachers’ union, achieved a major milestone last Friday in agreeing to collaborate on our proposed charter schools for young men and women.
After a two-hour meeting and four months of ongoing discussions, MTI agreed to work “aggressively and proactively” with Madison Prep, through the existing collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between MTI and the Madison Metropolitan School District, to ensure the school achieves its diversity hiring goals; educational mission and staff compensation priorities; and staff and student performance objectives.
Where we started.
In March 2011, we submitted a proposal to MMSD’s Board of Education to start an all-boys public charter school that would serve 120 boys beginning in the 2012-13 school year: 60 boys in sixth grade and 60 boys in seventh grade. We proposed that the school would operate as a “non-instrumentality” charter school, which meant that Madison Prep would not employ teachers and other relevant support staff that were members of MTI’s collective bargaining unit. We also proposed a budget of $14,471 per pupil, an amount informed by budgets numbers shared with us by MMSD’s administration. MMSD’s 2010-11 budget showed the projected to spend $14,800 per student.
Where we compromised.
A. Instrumentality: As part of the final proposal that the Urban League will submit to MMSD’s Board of Education for approval next month, the Urban League will propose that Madison Prep operate as an instrumentality of MMSD, but have Madison Preparatory Academy retain the autonomy of governance and management of both the girls and boys charter schools. MTI has stated that they have no issue with this arrangement.
What this means is that Madison Prep’s teachers, guidance counselor, clerical staff and nurse will be members of the MTI bargaining unit. As is required under the current CBA, each position will be appropriately compensated for working extra hours to accommodate Madison Prep’s longer school day and year. These costs have been built into our budget. All other staff will employed by Madison Preparatory Academy, Inc. and the organization will contract out for some services, as appropriate.
B. Girls School Now: When we began this journey to establish Madison Prep, we shared that it was our vision to establish a similar girls school within 12-24 months of the boys school starting. To satisfy the concerns of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction about how Madison Prep complies with federal Title IX regulations, we offered to start the girls school at the same time. We have since accelerated the girls school in our planning and look forward to opening the girls and boys schools in August 2012 with 60 sixth grade boys and 60 sixth grade girls. We will add one grade per year in each school until we reach a full compliment of 6th – 12th grades and 840 students total.
C. Costs: Over the past six months, we have worked closely with MMSD’s administration to identify an appropriate budget request for Madison Prep. Through an internal analysis of their spending at the secondary level, MMSD recently reported to us that they project to spend $13,207 per pupil on the actual education of children in their middle and high schools. To address school board members’ concerns about the costs of Madison Prep, we worked hard to identify areas to trim spending without compromising our educational mission, student and staffing needs, and overall school effectiveness. We’ve since reduced our request to $11,478 per pupil in Madison Prep’s first year of operation, 2012-13. By year five, our request decreases to $11,029 per pupil. Based on what we have learned about school spending in MMSD and the outstanding educational needs of students that we plan to address, we believe this is a reasonable request.
Why we compromised.
We have more information. After months of deliberation, negotiation and discussion with Board of Education members, school district administration, the teacher’s union and community stakeholders, we’ve been able to identify what we believe is a clear path to getting Madison Prep approved; a path that we hope addresses the needs and interests of all involved without compromising the mission, objectives and needs of our future students.
We believe in innovation and systemic change. We are very serious about promoting change and opportunity within our public schools, and establishing innovative approaches – including new schools – to respond to the educational needs, interests and challenges of our children, schools and community. Today’s children are tomorrow’s workforce; tomorrow’s leaders; tomorrow’s innovators; and tomorrow’s peacekeepers. We should have schools that prepare them accordingly. We are committed to doing our part to achieve this reality, including finding creative ways to break down boundaries rather than reinforce them.
The needs and desires of our children supersede all others. Children are the reward of life, and our children are our first priority. Our commitment is first and foremost to them. To this end, we will continue to seek ways to expand opportunities for them, advocate on their behalf and find ways to work with those with whom we have differences, even if it means we have to compromise to get there. It is our hope that other organizations and individuals will actively seek ways to do to the same.
We see the bigger picture. It would not serve the best interests of our community, our children, our schools or the people we serve to see parents of color and their children’s teachers at odds with each other over how best to deliver a quality education to their children. That is not the image we want to portray of our city. We sincerely hope that our recent actions will serve as a example to areas businesses, labor unions, schools and other institutions who hold the keys to opportunity for the children and families we serve.
Outstanding Issues.
Even though we have made progress, we are not out of the woods yet. We hope that over the next several weeks, the Board of Education will respond to your advocacy and work with us to provide the resources and autonomy of governance and leadership that are exceedingly important to the success of Madison Prep.
We look forward to finding common ground on these important objectives and realizing our vision that Greater Madison truly becomes the best place in the Midwest for everyone to live, learn and work.
Thank you for your courage and continued support.
Madison Prep 2012!
Kaleem Caire
President & CEO
Urban League of Greater Madison
Phone: 608-729-1200
Fax: 608-729-1205

WEAC (Wisconsin Teacher Union): Who Benefits?

Why this area teacher chose the non-union option

If the teachers union is as wonderful as it claims, then it should have no problem attracting members, without the need to force teachers to join. How is this any different from any other professional organization that teachers, as professionals, may choose to join? It’s a question I have been pondering since I became a public school teacher in Wisconsin.
For years, I have chosen not to be a member of the union. However, this is a choice I didn’t exactly have before Gov. Scott Walker’s collective-bargaining bill became law. As a compulsory union state, where teachers are required to pay union dues as a condition of employment, the most I could hope for was a “fair share” membership, where the union refunded me a small portion of the money that was taken from my paycheck that lawyers have deemed “un-chargeable.”
Every September, after lengthy, bureaucratic and unadvertised hurdles, I would file my certified letter to try to withdraw my union membership. Then, the union would proceed to drag its feet in issuing my small refund. I often wondered why this kind of burden would be put on an individual teacher like me. Shouldn’t it be up to the organization to convince people and to sell its benefits to potential members afresh each year?
Why should I have to move mountains each fall to break ties with this group that I don’t want to be a part of in the first place? Something seemed dreadfully wrong with that picture.

Union’s efforts help all students, educators and schools

WEAC President Mary Bell:

I became a Wisconsin teacher more than 30 years ago. I entered my classroom on the first day of school with my eyes and heart wide open, dedicated to the education of children and to the promise public schools offer. I was part of our state’s longstanding education tradition.
Like many beginning teachers, I soon encountered the many challenges and opportunities educators face every day in schools. About 50% of new educators leave the profession within their first five years of teaching. New teachers need mentors, suggestions, support and encouragement to help them meet the individual needs of students (all learning at different speeds and in different ways) and teach life lessons that can’t be learned from textbooks.
That’s where the union comes in. In many ways, much of the work the Wisconsin Education Association Council does is behind the scenes: supporting new teachers through union-led mentoring programs and offering training and skill development to help teachers with their licenses and certification. Our union helps teachers achieve National Board Certification – the highest accomplishment in the profession – and provides hands-on training for support professionals to become certified in their fields. These are efforts that benefit all Wisconsin educators, not just a few, and no single educator could accomplish them all alone.

StoryCorps Launches National Teacher Initiative

W J Levay:

StoryCorps — a national oral history project whose interviews you’ve probably heard on public radio — kicked off its National Teacher Initiative earlier this week with AFT president Randi Weingarten participating at the White House event.
The project, which launched Sept. 19, celebrates and honors the courageous work of public school educators nationwide. “This is a fantastic opportunity to hear from teachers — the people who are closest to the kids,” said Weingarten. “Their stories will be a window to the world on today’s public education — what’s working, what’s not, and what we can do better to prepare our children for the 21st-century knowledge economy.”
StoryCorps is looking to partner with schools, districts, teachers unions, community groups, and others to conduct an on-site recording day, and will send their staff and equipment to schools or events if the local or state federation can guarantee that at least eight interview pairs that include at least one teacher are available to participate. Each interview takes 40 minutes, and the participants will receive a CD of their interview.