Trump’s ed budget: A ‘betrayal’ and a ‘meat cleaver’ to public education

Under President Trump’s proposed FY 2018 education budget, school choice would receive a massive $1.4 billion while the Education Department undergoes a $9 billion, or 13 percent, cut.

Overall, the proposed education budget cuts the Education Department’s budget from $68 million to $59 billion.

Within the proposed $1.4 billion school choice investment, charter schools get a $168 million boost, and $250 million is allocated toward a new private school choice program.…Read More

Weingarten: Common Core rollout ‘toxic’

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten spoke on a wide range of issues — from the troubled implementation of Common Core education standards to bullying — Wednesday morning at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast, RealClearPolitics reports. Asked about her previous comment that Common Core implementation is going worse than the Affordable Care Act rollout, Weingarten said she isn’t “a big believer in blame” but clarified that her objections stem from a lack of public involvement in the process. “The public wasn’t involved. Parents weren’t involved. The districts weren’t involved. … It became toxic,” she said of implementing the academic benchmarks — which she supports — that spell out the skills students should have at each grade level…

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Six steps to effective teacher development and evaluation

‘Both of us have become increasingly concerned that states and districts are doing evaluation quickly instead of doing it right, which could have serious adverse effects,’ the authors write.

(Editor’s note: This article first appeared in The New Republic. It’s reprinted here with permission from the American Federation of Teachers.)

Some see us as education’s odd couple—one, the president of a democratic teachers’ union; the other, a director at the world’s largest philanthropy.

While we don’t agree on everything, we firmly believe that students have a right to effective instruction and that teachers want to do their very best. We believe that one of the most effective ways to strengthen both teaching and learning is to put in place evaluation systems that are not just a stamp of approval or disapproval but a means of improvement. We also agree that in too many places, teacher evaluation procedures are broken—unconstructive, superficial, or otherwise inadequate. And so, for the past four years, we have worked together to help states and districts implement effective teacher development and evaluation systems carefully designed to improve teacher practice and, ultimately, student learning.…Read More

Teachers union calls for certification exam

There is no single, national standard for teacher certification, although the federal government does ask states to meet certain criteria to be eligible for federal funding.

School teachers should have to pass a stringent exam—much like the bar exam for lawyers—before being allowed to enter the profession, one of the nation’s largest teachers unions said Dec. 3.

The American Federation of Teachers called for a tough new written test to be complemented by stricter entrance requirements for teacher training programs, such as a minimum grade point average. It also called for a more “systemic approach” to preparing future teachers.

“It’s time to do away with a common rite of passage into the teaching profession, whereby newly minted teachers are tossed the keys to their classrooms, expected to figure things out, and left to see if they and their students sink or swim,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten, calling that system unfair to students and teachers alike.…Read More

Should there be a bar exam for teachers?

Eager law school graduates are tasked with taking the dreaded bar exam before they practice law, says What do you suppose would happen if there was a similar test for teachers? Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), was the first to propose this idea at the Aspen Ideas Festival in June. Weingarten, who strives to help the teacher labor unions in her charge, suggested the bar exam in part as a way to help counter the impression that unions protect failing teachers. Her suggestion has made many people consider whether such an exam would be the best way to increase teaching standards and further legitimatize the profession. Others, however, feel a bar exam is just a public relations stunt that would be unlikely to make any difference in real reform. As it stands right now, a person who wants to teach in public schools must fulfill certain state teaching credentials and pass a state certification after receiving a bachelor’s degree…

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Chicago teacher strike poses test for unions

If the Chicago Teachers Union loses its fight with the district, it could have ripple effects around the country. (Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

The massive teacher strike in Chicago offers a high-profile test for the nation’s teacher unions, which have seen their political influence threatened as a growing education reform movement seeks to expand charter schools, get private companies involved with failing schools, and link teacher evaluations to student test scores.

The unions are taking a major stand on teacher evaluations, one of the key issues in the Chicago dispute. If they lose there, it could have ripple effects around the country.

Both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers are “a bit weaker,” said Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank. “They are playing on more hostile terrain, and they are facing opponents the likes of which they have not had to face before.”…Read More

Teachers’ union leader: ‘I know we’ve done things wrong’

It is a soul-searching moment for the teachers’ unions, the Huffington Post reports. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the second-largest educators’ union in the country, met Wednesday for about an hour with a group of more than a dozen progressive activists and bloggers. Before the meeting kicked off, she sat in a folding chair against a wall in a windowless office, chatting with former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. Weingarten told Dean that the teachers’ unions face “an existential threat.” She then turned to talk with the activists and bloggers. Their discussion was marked by a sense of concern that, as Daily Kos blogger Dante Atkins put it, teachers’ unions are becoming known as “the recalcitrant ones.”

“What’s the strategy almost for image rehabilitation?” Atkins asked.

Weingarten did not explicitly reject the premise of the question — that the unions’ biggest problem is that they’ve been out-messaged. She paused for a moment and responded, “I’m not an image maker. I’m kind of a doer.”…Read More

District ‘Race to the Top’ rules spur mixed reaction

School groups criticized RTT-D for creating 'winners' and 'losers.'

Proposed guidelines for school districts to vie for $400 million in new federal grants have elicited mixed reaction from education groups—from concern among ed-tech groups over how “personalized learning” will be defined, to arguments that the grants will exclude smaller districts from competing.

With an eye toward expanding the Obama administration’s signature “Race to the Top” (RTT) competition to the district level, the federal Education Department (ED) recently issued a draft outlining competition guidelines and invited responses from stakeholders.

RTT, which previously targeted only states, has triggered a flurry of education reforms as states scrambled to win billions in funds. Now, the creation of the Race to the Top-District Program (RTT-D) gives individual school districts a shot at winning a slice of $400 million in grants.…Read More

Opinion: Teachers union disavows internal memo endorsing deception of parents

American Federation of Teachers officials have disavowed an internal report after it was posted on the union’s website following its annual conference, embedded on each of its 19 pages with the union’s logo and signed by a union official, the Washington Examiner reports. The report, titled “How Connecticut Defused the Parent Trigger,” was replaced on AFT’s website with a note saying “we have received complaints about these materials and have removed them because they do not represent AFT’s position.”

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