Flypaper

I'm not one to beat up on teachers unions just for the sake of it, but this little news story out of Australia illustrates precisely how the interests of unions and students do not always intersect. Apparently the State School Teachers Union decided that one of the best ways to obtain their 20 percent raise was to "move to withhold report cards," essentially forcing parents to contact teachers directly for information about the child's academic progress. Union officials, however, maintain that "parents and students will not unfairly suffer because of the action" since teachers hold report card meetings with parents anyway. Now, that's some justification and especially little solace when we are told that this strategy is "just one of a broad range of tactics" to catalyze pay negotiations. Hate to see what the next tactic brings--withholding instruction altogether, or lunch time perhaps?

Liam Julian

Oh, brother.

"Students [would] have a chance to recover," Martin said. "Getting a bad grade or having a bad day does not mean you are a failure. This is about hope."

Of course. What isn't about hope these days? Reality is supplanted by wishes as teachers dream about what their students might have scored on the test they didn't complete, what grade their pupils, in a better world, could have garnered on the homework assignment they neglected to turn in.

It must be kiss-and-tell season, what with Scott McClellan's recent riposte to the Bush White House , and now with former education department official's Susan Neuman's revisionist history as reported by Time :*

Susan Neuman, a professor of education at the University Michigan who served as Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education during George W. Bush's first term, was and still is a fervent believer in the goals of NCLB. And she says the President and then Secretary of Education Rod Paige were too. But there were others in the department, according to Neuman, who saw NCLB as a Trojan horse for the choice agenda--a way to expose the failure of public education and "blow it up a bit," she says. "There were a number of people pushing hard for market forces and privatization."

I know and like Susan (we overlapped at the Department and worked on some issues together), but what a ridiculous statement. Of course "there were a number of people pushing hard for market forces"--like, say, the President himself . What Neuman apparently failed to realize when she agreed to serve was that she'd been asked by a Republican Administration- -you know, the...

Liam Julian

Sounds like D.C.'s charter schools are taking fire, too. If you can't beat ???em, sabotage ???em.

Liam Julian

It's unclear exactly what Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents Washington, D.C., in Congress, so dislikes about the Opportunity Scholarship Program that provides some 2,000 low-income students in the District an opportunity to receive their educations from private providers. She told the Washington Post, "We have to protect the children, who are the truly innocent victims here." But victims require victimizers, and Holmes Norton neglects to be specific. Are "the children" victims of too much educational choice? Are they victims of their parents' desire that they receive stronger educations? From whom or what, exactly, does Holmes Norton purport to protect D.C.'s low-income kids? Ah, but she's not really protecting kids, is she. Holmes Norton is protecting a public-school system that has itself victimized countless numbers of Washington, D.C., children. She should've told the Post: "I intend to destroy any challenge to the Washington, D.C., public-school monopoly, and the desires of low-income children and their parents, my constituents, be damned."

The New York Times had a nice piece Saturday on the Garden State's alternative certification program, the first and largest state effort of its kind. (Forty percent of New Jersey's teachers come to the classroom through this "alternative.") An idea that was once a lightening rod is no longer so:

At one time the alternate route was controversial, said Roger Leon, who took it in 1992. He is now an assistant superintendent in Newark. His superiors and fellow teachers had a dim view of teachers who had not majored in education, he said.

Mr. Leon admitted he confronted a steep learning curve. "I spent the entire weekend before school opened organizing the classroom, getting it to look just right," he said. "And then they showed up. I was like, ???Oh, my goodness.' I recall a paper airplane flying past me."

Today nontraditionally trained teachers are commonplace in Newark and in other cities. Newark hired 115 this year, as well as 37 through Teach for America, another nontraditional program.

We've long believed New Jersey's program to be a model, and wish we can say that it exemplifies the typical alternative route to teaching. Unfortunately, it does...

The New York Times had a nice piece Saturday on the Garden State's alternative certification program, the first and largest state effort of its kind. (Forty percent of New Jersey's teachers come to the classroom through this "alternative.") An idea that was once a lightening rod is no longer so:

At one time the alternate route was controversial, said Roger Leon, who took it in 1992. He is now an assistant superintendent in Newark. His superiors and fellow teachers had a dim view of teachers who had not majored in education, he said.

Mr. Leon admitted he confronted a steep learning curve. "I spent the entire weekend before school opened organizing the classroom, getting it to look just right," he said. "And then they showed up. I was like, ???Oh, my goodness.' I recall a paper airplane flying past me."

Today nontraditionally trained teachers are commonplace in Newark and in other cities. Newark hired 115 this year, as well as 37 through Teach for America, another nontraditional program.

We've long believed New Jersey's program to be a model, and wish we can say that it exemplifies the typical alternative route to teaching. Unfortunately, it does...

It's no secret that Senator John McCain's age will be a factor in this year's presidential race. At 72, he would be the oldest man to take the office in the nation's history.

But I can't help but wonder whether age might also be a factor when it comes time to select the next education secretary--that is, if Senator Barack Obama wins in November.* That's because the two Democrats most qualified for the position are also both in their 70's: Roy Romer (79), the chairman of Ed in '08, former Los Angeles superintendent, and former governor of Colorado; and Jim Hunt (71), the former four-term governor of North Carolina and head of the Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy.

I've mused about a Secretary Romer before, so let me ponder a Secretary Hunt. (Warning: Gush alert.) I'll be frank: he'd be incredible. I'm down in Raleigh right now for the Hunt Institute's annual governors symposium (no media allowed, which means no live-blogging for me). It's only the second chance I've had to spend time with the...

Liam Julian

Washington Post education reporter Jay Mathews and Checker Finn debate: "Is AP Good for Everyone?"

As the D.C. voucher program comes under attack, where is Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, whose initial support for the program was instrumental in its birth? Apparently too busy working on a much more pressing public-private partnership issue: the management of the Senate cafeterias.

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