Week of November 17, 2014

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Week of November 17, 2014


Teacher Prep
ICYMI: Last week, NCTQ released a new report, Easy A’s and What’s Behind Them,confirming that students in teacher prep programs earn higher grades than their peers in other departments and examining how course assignments contribute to these high grades. The report resonated with many in the field who had been awarded high grades despite feeling that they were not challenged by the program they attended. Missed the media coverage? See thoughtful commentary from Esther Cepeda or this one penned by Stephen Sawchuk.?
District Matters
In New York City, a retroactive pay dispute was resolved on Monday. Teachers who retired between 2009 and 2014 will receive a lump-sum payment for the retroactive raise they were promised under the union’s contract, reports Chalkbeat New York. After a rush of teachers decided to retire this year, the city found itself facing a shortfall: the cost of the retirement deal is $60 million more than the $180 million the city had already budgeted. The Union Federation of Teachers and the city came to an agreement that the extra $60 million will be found through adjusting the current $5.5 billion contract. An arbitrator will come up with savings to close the gap.?
State Matters
The Indiana Chamber of Commerce wants to make the state superintendent of public instruction an appointed position. The Indy Star reports a mixed reaction from the state legislature and others about this goal. Glenda Ritz, the current state superintendent and the only Democrat in a statewide elected office, was elected two years ago. She has frequently clashed with the Republicans in the legislature, the Governor and some of the state board of education members. Supporters of Ritz believe this is an attempt to unseat her, and her spokesman released a statement saying “Taking such an important and personal decision away from voters because of petty partisan bickering is shortsighted and simply wrong.”?
Last week, a group of six Pennsylvania school districts, along with parents and two advocacy groups, filed a lawsuit against the state claiming it has violated its constitutional obligations to fund all public schools adequately and equitably. As thePittsburgh Post-Gazette reports, the lawsuit claims that the current education funding system “…turns the caliber of public education into an accident of geography. Children in property- and income-poor districts are denied the opportunity to receive even an adequate education…” This lawsuit comes on the heels of a report from the American Institutes for Research that found Pennsylvania has above-average funding for education, but that the money is inequitably distributed.?
Meanwhile, a similar battle in South Carolina came to an end. After 21 years, the South Carolina Supreme Court ended a legal battle between rural school districts and the state over education funding. According to The State, the court ruled in favor of the school districts, finding that the current system of education funding must be fixed by the state legislature to provide a “minimally adequate” education to children in the poorest school districts. The majority opinion stated, “Thousands of South Carolina’s schoolchildren — the quintessential future of our state — have been denied this opportunity, due to no more than historical accident.” It is now in the hands of the state’s legislature to remedy the situation.?
Ed Research
new report from Urban Teacher Residency United looks at the inner workings of two highly effective urban teacher residency programs: Aspire Teacher Residency in California and the Denver Teacher Residency. Building Effective Teacher Residencies, written by Linda Perlstein, provides a comprehensive look at the inner workings of a residency program and shares findings from a year of extensive observations and interviews with program staff, residents, mentors, principals and other stakeholders.?
In Other Ed News
A new study finds that text messages may be a cheap and effective way to help address language gaps. Researchers followed 440 families with four-year-olds enrolled in preschool in the San Francisco Unified School District. As described by the New York Times, parents were sent text messages three times a week reminding them to read and talk to their children. The research found that preschoolers whose parents received text messages performed better on literacy tests than children whose parents did not receive such messages.?  

“Didn’t bring your homework? Party Foul.” NPREd ‘s Secret Lives of Teachersintroduces us to I.C. Will this week and a group of 5th and 6th graders from Washington Heights. It’s worth a watch.?

Do teachers support the Vergara decision? To tackle this question, Paul Peterson looks at findings from Education Next’s annual survey of public and teacher opinion. Respondents were asked to indicate what proportion of teachers in their local school district deserved each of the letter grades A-F, whether or not tenure should be ended, and, if tenure is awarded, whether student performance should be considered. You might be surprised by some of the results.?