Pittsburgh Schools superintendent turns down $20K pay raise

Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Linda Lane tonight turned down a pay raise again, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. For calendar 2012, Ms. Lane was awarded a $15,000 pay increase, but she declined it and her pay remained at $200,000. For calendar 2013, she was offered an additional raise of $5,000, which would have brought her pay to $220,000. However, she declined that as well, so she will be paid $200,000 for 2013. Over the two years, she has given up $35,000 in pay. The vote for the pay increase was 8-1, with Mark Brentley Sr. voting no. Mr. Brentley said he was not saying Ms. Lane was not “working very, very hard,” but he complained that there is not enough transparency…

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Audit: U.S. oversight of charter school funding is lax

Florida has created a new web-based system to more closely monitor charter school grant expenditures.

An audit of the U.S. Department of Education’s division overseeing hundreds of millions of dollars in charter school funding has criticized the office for failing to properly monitor how states spend the money.

The report, released in late September by the department’s Office of the Inspector General, also singled out state education departments in California, Florida, and Arizona for lax monitoring of what charter schools do with the funds and whether their expenditures comply with federal regulations.

The education department’s Office of Innovation and Improvement spent $940 million from 2008 to 2011 on charter schools, which are autonomously operated public schools. Most of the money is funneled through state education departments, although some is given directly to charter schools.

The funds are administered through competitive grants aimed at helping launch new charters and replicate successful charter models.

The inspector general said the innovation office has not given proper guidance to states on monitoring the use of the money and does not have policies to ensure that states corrected deficiencies when they were found.

For more news and opinion about school reform, see:

Bill Gates: The keys to effective teacher evaluation

Viewpoint: The education competition myth

Beyond ‘Superman’: Leading Responsible School Reform

Additionally, the audit, which was conducted by San Francisco-based education research company WestEd, found that the office did not review expenditures to ensure they met with federal disbursement requirements.

The office has agreed to beef up its procedures to track federal funds and ensure states are adequately overseeing charter schools, the report said.

WestEd also examined state charter oversight policies in California, Arizona, and Florida, which collectively received $275 million in federal funds for charter schools from 2008 to 2011.

Among the findings:

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Teachers: Involve parents in the flipped classroom, too

At the beginning of each semester I spend time speaking to my students about what the flipped classroom is: a significant change over the way students have previously been taught. As a result, I explain what the benefits of the flipped classroom are, what an average day will look like, and how students will be assessed, among many other things.

I work hard to paint a positive picture to get students on my side. And change can be scary! I explain that students will have less homework than they have ever had in a math class, how they will not be forced to listen to their teacher lecture for the majority of class, and how classroom time will be spent working with others and being active in their learning. I give the flipped class a hard sell – I want students to be excited about doing things they have never done before in a math classroom. And there are always a few things that shock them:

“We get to use our cell phones?”

Absolutely!

For more news about flipped learning, see:

New developments enhance school video use

How TED-Ed is helping to amplify instruction

The truth about flipped learning

How to make videos your students will love

“We move at our own pace in class?”

That’s right!

“We’re encouraged to talk in class?”

You bet!

This year marks my second year as a flipped classroom teacher. Now that my lesson videos are already created, I’m excited to focus on the finer points in my classroom. I spent significant effort explaining the flipped classroom to my students last year, so I decided that this year, I would educate their parents as well.

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Survey: Today’s teaching force less experienced, more open to change

More inexperienced teachers are in today’s classrooms than ever before and they are more open than their veteran colleagues to performance-driven options for how they’re evaluated and paid, according to the results of a new survey conducted by the Boston-based nonprofit Teach Plus, says the Hechinger Report. For the first time in decades, more than 50 percent of the nation’s teaching force is comprised of teachers who have been in the classroom under 10 years, Teach Plus found in “Great Expectations: Teachers’ Views on Elevating the Teaching Profession,” which looks at the changing demographics of U.S. teachers. The national survey asked 1,015 new and veteran teachers their views on some of the most contentious issues in U.S. public education, like teacher evaluations and class size, to see if attitudes are shifting with an influx of newer teachers. Despite differences in experience, teachers are generally united when it comes to working conditions…

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The future of STEM education may be at risk

It’s not every day that high school students get the chance to meet a renowned physicist. But Arkansas high school students spent Tuesday listening to Dr. James Gates, a noted African-American theoretical physicist, talk about his career and the importance of a STEM education, TakePart.com reports.

“There are half of million jobs that can’t find Americans to hire because they don’t have the skills level,” he told the packed auditorium at Philander Smith College in Little Rock. “These are the jobs you most want to have in the future.”

Who could fill those? More students who focus on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) classes in high school and college. Gates is a professor of physics at the University of Maryland in College Park but also serves on President Barack Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. In that capacity, he advises Obama on myriad topics including the increasing need for STEM education in the United States…

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Op-Ed: ‘Our schools have ignored the flight of great teachers’

Recently, many of the nation’s leading education experts gathered with classroom teachers to discuss the state of education in America at the annual Education Nation summit in New York, says TakePart.com. The conversation raised some valuable insights about the future of our schools and in particular, how to ensure we have great teachers in every classroom. As a 33-year veteran teacher, I still feel as passionate as ever about my profession. However, I have serious concerns about our nation’s ability to keep talented educators in the classroom after three years, let alone three decades. During my career, I’ve seen many great teachers leave the classroom while still in their prime. Most hadn’t grown tired of teaching. Instead, they left because they didn’t get the recognition they deserve from their schools or from the district. They left because they didn’t see opportunities to advance their careers. They left because they were being neglected…

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National student online poll has called four elections correctly

An online poll taken by millions of American students has forecast four presidential elections correctly, the National Constitution Center reports. But will it get another election correct next Monday, when the public finds out the results from the OneVote 2012 project? onevoteChannel One, the education media service, ran the elaborate polls in 1992, 2000, 2004, and 2008, and the middle- and high-school students picked Bill Clinton, George Bush (twice), and Barack Obama correctly. The students and teachers involved in the OneVote project aren’t taking a simple straw poll. Students across the country are filling out ballots this week, which are vetted in the classroom by their teachers. The educators file the votes on the OneVote website. Voting ends at 10 p.m. ET on Friday…

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Audit: US oversight of charter school funds lax

An audit of the U.S. Department of Education’s division overseeing hundreds of millions of dollars in charter school funding has criticized the office for failing to properly monitor how states spend the money, the Associated Press reports. The report released in late September by the department’s Office of the Inspector General also singled out state education departments in California, Florida and Arizona for lax monitoring of what charter schools do with the funds and whether their expenditures comply with federal regulations. The education department’s Office of Innovation and Improvement spent $940 million from 2008 to 2011 on charter schools, which are autonomously operated public schools. Most of the money is funneled through state education departments, although some is given directly to charter schools. The funds are administered through competitive grants aimed at helping launch new charters and replicate successful charter models. The inspector general said the innovation office has not given proper guidance to states on monitoring the use of the money and does not have policies to ensure that states corrected deficiencies when they were found…

Click here for the full story

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