One was about how the US is training math teachers and that they earned a C on a new test compared with students in other countries like Singapore and Taiwan and Germany. The tests were created by an international consortium and the study done in the U.S. However, there were few European countries in the study. From the article:
On average, 80 percent to 100 percent of the future middle school teachers from the highest-achieving countries took advanced courses like linear algebra and calculus, while only 50 percent to 60 percent of their counterparts in the United States took those courses, the study said.“The study reveals that America’s middle school mathematics teacher preparation is not up to the task,” said William H. Schmidt, the Michigan State University professor who was its lead author.
However, other voices stated:
“There are so many people who bash our teachers’ math knowledge that to be honest these results are better than what a lot of people might expect,” said Hank Kepner, professor of mathematics education at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, who is president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. “We show up pretty well here, right in the middle of the pack.”
The study was also faulted for including calculus because it isn't taught in middle school.
Other info on the test:
There were two distinct tests, for those preparing to teach in elementary schools and for candidates for middle school.
The same tests, developed by an international consortium, were given to college students in 15 other countries, including advanced nations like Germany and Norway as well as underdeveloped ones like Botswana.
On the elementary test, students from Singapore, Switzerland and Taiwan scored far above their counterparts in the United States. Students from Germany, Norway, the Russian Federation and Thailand, scored about the same as the Americans, and students from Botswana, Chile, Georgia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Poland and Spain scored well below, the report said.
On the middle school test, American students outscored students in Botswana, Chile, Georgia, Malaysia, Norway, Oman, the Philippines and Thailand, the study found.
The other article, which is major news, was about the veto by Florida Governor Charlie Crist against a bill which would have eliminated tenure for public school teachers as well as tying their pay ad job security to how well students were learning. This bill, if approved, would have had the most sweeping teacher pay changes in the country.
From the article:
Mr. Crist said Thursday that his decision was not political. He cited “the incredible outpouring of opposition by teachers, parents, students, superintendents, school boards and legislators.”
The bill was supported by the Florida Department of Education and statewide business groups, which expressed disappointment in the governor’s decision, saying that teachers should be held more accountable.
But the governor, announcing his veto in the Capitol in Tallahassee, said the changes envisioned would put “teachers in jeopardy of losing their jobs and teaching certificates, without a clear understanding of how gains will be measured.”
Of course this puts Florida in a bad place for future RTTT. An Obama official said this bill “is consistent with what Race to the Top wants,”.
From the article:
When Florida proposed strict accountability measures, teachers, parents and administrators pushed back. They argued that the proposed system — basing renewal of teacher contracts and at least half their raises on how well students did on standardized tests — would hold them responsible for factors in students’ lives beyond their control.
“I am not a puppet master; I can’t pull strings and make them perform,” said Amy Horr, a second-grade teacher in the Miami-Dade School District who attended a rally on Monday. “I can’t even make them come to school.”
The president of the state teachers’ union, Andy Ford, argued that the pressure on children “will be immense when the teacher’s salary evaluation, contract and certification are all tied to that score.”
This makes Mr. Crist, a moderate Republican, at odds with the Obama Administration as well as some conservatives and yet even some Tea Party activists had opposed the bill because of the increased government bureaucracy.
I've said it before - public education in this country is about local control. I think while many believe that teachers need to be more accountable (but how is the big question), that many are not sure the federal government should be using the carrot/stick that RTTT is. I think the combination of teacher salary/certification/contract was a triple whammy that likely doomed the bill. I wonder if Mr. Crist would have vetoed a more simple bill. Still, it is an opening legislative salvo for this discussion.