As Congress nears a deadline to form a compromise and avoid sequestration, education stakeholders are hoping to avoid devastating school funding cuts that could put an end to some promising practices across the country.
A recent Alliance for Excellent Education (AEE) webinar explored where some federal education policies stand, what President Obama’s second term holds for teachers and students, and what could happen if sequestration occurs.
For thousands of public school students, school is about to get quite a bit longer.
Five states were to announce Dec. 3 that they will add at least 300 hours of learning time to the calendar in some schools starting in 2013. Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Tennessee will take part in the initiative, which is intended to boost student achievement and make U.S. schools more competitive on a global level.
The three-year pilot program will affect almost 20,000 students in 40 schools, with long-term hopes of expanding the program to include additional schools—especially those that serve low-income communities. Schools, working in concert with districts, parents, and teachers, will decide whether to make the school day longer, add more days to the school year, or both.…Read More
At Rocketship Education, a public K-5 charter school system for low-income students, our mission is to close the achievement gap within our lifetimes, Takepart.com reports. The three pillars of our blended learning model are: individualized learning for our students, rich professional development for our teachers and school leaders, and parent and community engagement. Our system-wide score of 855 on the 2012 Academic Performance Index (API) made us the top-performing school system in California serving primarily low-income students. As we continue to grow in California and prepare for national expansion (our first school in Milwaukee will open in Fall 2013), I reflect on what has allowed us to be so successful up to this point. Of primary importance has been freedom from the traditional school bureaucracies and special interests that can often handicap districts in their efforts to implement meaningful reform. We are extremely fortunate to have always been able to operate in a way that is constantly and unequivocally geared towards student achievement so that no student has to be subject to the destiny of demographics…
Mayor Rahm Emanuel secured an extension of Chicago’s school day and empowered principals to hire the teachers they want. Teachers were able to soften a new evaluation process and win some job protections.
As students returned to the classroom Sept. 19 after a seven-day teachers strike, both sides found reasons to celebrate victory. But neither the school-reform movement nor organized labor achieved the decisive breakthrough it had sought. And whether the implications extend beyond Chicago might depend on the next case having a similar cast of characters and political pressures.
Unions hoped the walkout would prove they were still relevant, and some education reform groups were disappointed with the city’s concessions.…Read More
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
Learning Leadership column, Sept. 2012 edition of eSchool News—Every year at this time, I look forward to the release of the Phi Delta Kappa/ Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools. Given the apparent dissatisfaction that many Americans have toward public education, the poll results might shed some light on why—and what we as public educators might be able to do about it.
I am immediately drawn to the section that asks the public to grade the public schools. Over the last 20 years, the results have been very consistent on two levels. First, and very much to my liking, the percentage of respondents who have a child in school and give their school a grade of A or B continues to grow. This past year, the number was at 77 percent, significantly higher than it was 20 years ago when the number was 64 percent. What does that tell us? Our public schools are being pounded as being of low quality and dysfunctional and not as good as they used to be. Yet, for those who are direct consumers of what the schools have to offer, parents with children in the school, satisfaction with the public schools is at an all-time high.
Second, when the public at large is asked to grade the school in their community, whether they have children in attendance or not, the results are also consistent in that there has been a continuous increase in satisfaction over the past 20 years. Currently, 48 percent of the public gives the school in their community a grade of A or B. That’s certainly not as impressive as the 77-percent approval rating by parents, but 20 years ago the percentage was 40 percent and it has been increasing steadily over the years.…Read More
A more well-rounded curriculum with less focus on a single test. Higher academic standards and more difficult classwork. Continued cuts to extracurricular and other activities because of the tough economy: Education Secretary Arne Duncan says these are some of the changes and challenges that children could notice as they start the new school year.
Several significant reforms have taken place over the past three years. Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core standards, a set of uniform benchmarks for math and reading. Thirty-two states and D.C. have been granted waivers from important parts of the Bush-era No Child Left Behind law. Billions in federal dollars have gone out to improve low-performing schools, tie teacher evaluations to student growth, and encourage states to expand the number of charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Duncan said he believes students will see the concrete effects of those changes when they head back to class this school year.…Read More