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 Takepart.com. 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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Exclusive: Michelle Rhee takes aim at teacher tenure

When Michelle Rhee was the chancellor of Washington, D.C. public schools in 2008, she was convinced that tenure was hurting her students, Takepart.com reports. Back then, she told The New York Times: “Tenure is the holy grail of teacher unions but has no educational value for kids; it only benefits adults. If we can put veteran teachers who have tenure in a position where they don’t have it, that would help us to radically increase our teacher quality. And maybe other districts would try it, too.”

In lieu of tenure, Rhee offered Washington teachers the option of tremendous raises. The teachers and their union, however, heartily rejected her proposal. But Rhee has not given up. Today, as the founder and CEO of StudentsFirst, a grassroots organization that fights for public school reform, Rhee is still fighting what she believes is an archaic system.

In an exclusive interview, Rhee discusses why she believes tenure needs to be drastically reformed—if not abolished altogether……Read More

Is it possible to grade teachers on how much they inspire?

I grew up hearing my father talk about his treks to a one-room schoolhouse in Aiken, SC, says a contributor for Takepart.com. Those seven-mile walks, verified by the car odometer, were mitigated because he loved his teacher and couldn’t wait to sit in her classroom. She inspired him to learn, and her encouragement propelled him to go to college at the age of 15. I came to fully understand my father’s feelings when Helen Shelton became my first-grade teacher. Not only did she inspire me, but she also truly made me feel as though I was the smartest kid in the world and that I could be and do anything. She helped to set me on a path of learning and growing in school. Like me and my dad, millions of other Americans have been inspired and motivated by their teachers. As we consider the best way to evaluate and judge teacher effectiveness, I am struck by a question rarely asked in this brave new world of high-stakes testing, peer reviews and student performance: How do we measure inspiration?

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What if the highest-paid people at school were… the teachers?

Barnett Berry shows a picture of himself from 1979 to a group of Arkansas teachers, says Takepart.com. The educators laugh at the young, bright-eyed teacher, who is now president of the Center for Teacher Equality. He tells them it’s been decades since he’s been in a classroom, but that doesn’t mean he is clueless about what they handle on a daily basis. He also shares where he thinks the teaching profession needs to go.

“There is a difference between those who teach and those who lead,” Berry said during the lecture for Arkansas teachers at the William J. Clinton Presidential Center.

He added, “Teachers need to transform teachers.”…Read More

Time for higher pay? Teachers are more likely to work second jobs

After the school day ends, many teachers are heading to second jobs to make ends meet, Takepart.com reports. According to a new study from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the sad truth is that teachers are more likely than non-teachers to work multiple jobs. The report provides a variety of reasons why educators, who on average make $56,039 per year, might be more likely to seek a supplementary income. Teachers, according to the study, were more likely to be married and have dependents. Where as 45 percent of non-teachers were unmarried with no dependents, only 35 percent of teachers were in the same category. The responsibility of having to provide for others makes additional income appealing. The study also found that STEM teachers were more likely than other teachers to work a second job. Earlier this year, President Obama announced that he wants to spend one billion dollars to hire more STEM educators who would be enticed by receiving an additional $20,000 on top of their salaries…

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One of the most powerful educators in America

Civil rights leader Kenneth Clark once said to Howard Fuller, “Did my work even make a difference?” Like Clark, who was instrumental in the Supreme Court’s decision to desegregate schools in 1954, education advocate Howard Fuller has asked himself this same question, Takepart.com reports.

“If you really care and you live long enough,” Fuller, 71, says, you look back over your body of work and wonder what impact it has made.

Looking at Clark and Fuller’s bodies of work, it is not hard to see that both have made a major impact on education in America. For the last three decades, Howard Fuller has fought for education equality and school choice. He served as the superintendent of Milwaukee schools where he was a strong proponent of the voucher program, and is a Distinguished Professor of Education and the Founder and Director of Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette University. The Institute empowers low-income families to choose the best education options for their children……Read More

Failing public schools: Should they learn from thriving charters?

What makes a charter school succeed and how exactly can we transfer these ideas to failing public schools? These questions are examined in Roland G. Fryer’s widely talked about report, “Learning From the Successes and Failures of Charter Schools,” Takepart.com reports. Fryer is the CEO of EdLabs and an economics professor at Harvard University, the report was published as part of The Hamilton Project (the Brookings Institution). The report has been touted as a great way for modeled successful charters to “cross-pollinate” with failing public schools. Critics, however, have said charters are being favored as education policy over reforms that might be more cohesive with the traditional public school system. Fryer studied data from 35 charter schools of varying success levels in New York City to determine what separated the high achievers from those that failed. What he discovered was intriguing. The usual measurements, such as class size and amount spent per student, were not as important to reading and math scores as other school-wide implemented practices…

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The way teachers are getting school supplies may surprise you

Each year, American teachers pay $3 billion out of their own pockets on classroom supplies. Yes, $3 billion, reports Takepart.com. Teachers in many parts of the country barely make enough to pay bills, much less have extra money to funnel back into the classroom. But fortunately more people—and politicians—are waking up to this critical economic problem in the classroom. Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott outlined his new education plan last week ahead of the state’s January legislative session. He wants to give every teacher in Florida a debit card to assist in school supply costs that would be funded by private and public investment.

“Teachers are the lifeblood of our classrooms and they help students obtain the skills and talents they will need to get a job, build a family and live their version of the American dream,” Scott said last week in a speech about his plans for Florida’s education system…

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