Week of March 2, 2015

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Teacher Prep
Legislators in the Land of 10,000 Lakes are currently considering a bill that would require state teacher prep programs to release information on how well they are preparing their teacher candidates. The MinnPost reports that the bill is intended to help prospective college students make more informed decisions on which program to attend. Teacher prep programs have been quick to fire back, insisting that they already compile and disclose a “mountain of data” and asking them to produce more would be burdensome and costly. Just an FYI, NCTQ would be happy to explore that mountain of data anytime.
District Matters
It’s been a newsworthy week in Philadelphia. Early last week the School Reform Commission (SRC) filed an appeal on the decision of the court that the commission does not have the legal authority to unilaterally impose health care costs on teachers, reports the Philadelphia Tribune. Over the weekend, newly elected Governor Wolfremoved Bill Green as chairman of the SRC. Wolf tapped commissioner and longtime educator Marjorie Neff to take the gavel. The decision does not change the composition of the commission, as Green will remain as a member, Newsworks reports.
In Oakland, contract negotiations continue. The district has recently proposed scaling back the role of seniority in the teacher transfer process. Currently, vacant positions are first opened to teachers who have lost their positions in other schools and filled in order of seniority. Instead, the district has proposed establishing school personnel committees that will review all applicants for vacant positions (both internal applicants and outside candidates) with the principal as the ultimate hiring authority. As the East Bay Express reports, this proposal is controversial among teachers. The district’s proposal is in line with recommendations we made in our 2012 study of the Oakland school district.

The United Federation of Teachers in New York City announced it will be shutting down the kindergarten through eighth grade portion of its charter school. According to the New York Times, the union opened the charter in 2005 seeking to provide evidence that union contracts do not serve as an impediment to success in public schools. While the school maintained a high level of parent satisfaction, it was not able to maintain high enough test scores to renew its charter. The union will seek to renew the charter for its high school.
State Matters
The Oklahoma state school board voted to delay the implementation of two student growth measures that would have otherwise factored into evaluations for teachers in non-tested subjects this year. After the Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Commission recommended the measures be eliminated, the board decided to postpone the implementation until alternative quantitative measures for teachers in non-tested areas could be studied, reports Tulsa World.
In Other Ed News
What makes a good teacher? The New York Times hosts a written debate this week, in the form of op-eds among education advocates and educators. Debaters includeAmanda Ripley, who discusses the need for more rigorous and selective teacher colleges; Eric Hanushek, who believes that an evaluation system linked to retention and reward is vital; Jal Mehta, who wants the U.S. to treat teacher education like a medical residency; and Kaya Henderson, who believes that respecting the teaching profession will lead to great teaching. It’s worth a read.