Monday, July 07, 2014

Education News Roundup

North Carolina is poised to exit from Common Core.  They also passed a student data privacy law earlier this year (and I'll be working to get one passed in the Washington Legislature). 
North Carolina was one of the first states to embrace Common Core, now in place in more than 40 states. But support among some conservatives for the standards dissolved in recent months as nation-wide opposition mounted from activists who argued it infringed on state sovereignty.
Others complained about age-inappropriate teaching material and more testing.

To note, the NC legislature may be picking from CCSS to beef up their own existing ones.  It looks like several states want this ability to "hybrid" standards.  (Under CC, states can only change up to 15% of the standards which seems to be a sticking point for some states.)  

What Oklahoma's governor, Mary Fallin, says seems to be ringing true for many states:

“Unfortunately, federal overreach has tainted Common Core. President Obama and Washington bureaucrats have usurped Common Core in an attempt to influence state education standards,” Fallin said upon signing the measure.

 Arne Duncan made a huge mistake (but given he was aided and abetted by Bill Gates, it's not surprising).

Speaking of Bill Gates, can't he afford someone who knows how to use stats and create a good graph?  Apparently not.

President Obama, seeming to be following up on the Vergara case in California (overturning the use of seniority for teachers), is now launching an initiative for equal access to "good" teachers. 

The new initiative, called "Excellent Educators for All," aims to bring states into compliance with a teacher equity mandate in the No Child Left Behind Act, the George W. Bush-era law that requires states to reward and punish schools based on standardized test scores.

There are three parts to the effort: By April 2015, states must submit "comprehensive educator equity plans" that detail how they plan to put "effective educators" in front of poor and minority kids. To help states write the plans, the Education Department will create a $4.2 million "Education Equity Support Network." And this fall, the Education Department will publish "Educator Equity profiles" that highlight which states and districts fare well or poorly on teacher equity. 

The National Education Association had its national conference last week.  They asked for Arne Duncan to resign (but, interestingly, not for Obama to fire him).

Read more here:


Anonymous said...

Yay! More punishment for public education for things that are beyond their control! More unfunded mandates! Obama and Duncan are really cruising now in their campaign to destroy public education!


Mary Griffin said...
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Mary Griffin said...

Unless there is some kind of verbiage which redefines who is a highly-qualified teacher, this latest "Excellent Educators for All" initiative just compounds the meaningless NCLB blather about highly qualified teachers.

Currently, a person with a bachelor's degree in communication, political science or business can take five weeks of classes over the summer and meet the qualifications as highly qualified under a loophole passed through last October during the budget crisis. Five weeks of schooling apparently is not only enough for Arne Duncan, it is enough for Teach for America to proclaim that it is launching a new "Special Education and Ability Initiative" to help those poor darling special education students (strike the harp and bring up the stirring photos of teary eyed special education students struggling through classes with just regular special education teachers.) Because five weeks in classes is enough. Five weeks is enough to work with students on the autism spectrum, behavioral issues, and severe dyslexia. Five weeks is enough to transform a TFA employee with a degree in history into a highly qualified teacher completely suited to the task of instructing our most vulnerable students. Five weeks is enough to learn how to write an IEP, differentiate instruction, and leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Let's get real. If Arne Duncan or President Obama is real about putting highly qualified teachers in front of our most vulnerable students, the TFA loophole must be eliminated.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Mary, your last sentence says it all. Either it's highly qualified teachers or it's not.

Several of us, when TFA first came to town, had Sped children and I told the Board that if my child had a TFA teacher, I would pull him from the school/class and would likely sue. That's how serious I was about knowing - beyond a doubt - that 5 weeks is not enough to be a Sped teacher.

And they backed right off. Did they fear me? No, they knew I was right.

Anonymous said...
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Sam said...

Reposting for anonymous:

Correction to one of your sentences. There is a copyright on the standards. You can't change any of them, but you can ADD up to 15% new standards. We have a couple of TFA teachers in my building. Many of the teachers don't know this so I am assuming that parents also don't know. And finally, these days, with many regions of the US tying test scores to evaluations, where are you going to find people willing to make a change to an at risk school?

Not surprised said...

TfA and the district were under NO obligation to disclose a teacher's TfA status to parents.

Mary Griffin said...

I am not sure what Annonymous means by "copyright."

But, parents should know that you have a legal right to know a teacher's qualifications if your student attends a Title 1 school. Here are what you have a right to know under NCLB:

• Whether the teacher met state qualifications and certification requirements for the grade level and subject he/she is teaching,

• Whether the teacher received an emergency or conditional certificate through which state qualifications were waived, and

• What undergraduate or graduate degrees the teacher holds, including graduate certificates and additional degrees, and major(s) or area(s) of concentration.

Not surprised is correct that the district is under no obligation to disclose if a teacher is a "Teach for America" employee. If the teacher has an emergency or conditional certificate, you may suspect that TFA is involved, although there are certainly other conditions which would result in an emergency or conditional certificate.

My understanding right now in Seattle is that there are many Special Education teaching slots which are filled with people who are teaching under conditional or emergency certificates. In fact, my understanding is that some of these people are not currently enrolled in master's degree level courses which would lead to special education endorsements, which would make their conditional or emergency certificates invalid. I am aware of one teacher at a middle school who has been teaching in an EBD classroom who does not have an endorsement in special education and is not enrolled in a masters degree programs. This has been going on for at least two years. My understanding is that after the second year of being taught by such a person, that those students are all eligible for compensatory SDI minutes. District administration estimates that this situation is so extreme in Seattle that the value of the number of compensatory SDI minutes owed to students who are not being taught by properly qualified teachers totals close to $700,000.

Melissa Westbrook said...

No, Anonymous is right. Districts/states can add (not change) the standards). The Standards are owned by those who created them. You don't have to pay to use them (yet) but you can't mess with them.

mirmac1 said...

Last year SPS tried to hire Sophie Sinco as a sped teacher. It was pointed out to them that IDEA has a more stringent definition of HQT for SpEd. Remember, SPS dropped it because Sinco "disappeared". Of course Mary-Alice Heuschel "stole" her away from us and stuck her in an LA/SS class.

mirmac1 said...

Sorry, that's last "school year".

Hmmmm, wonder where Sinco is now....?

Anonymous said...

I think there is a strong enabling environment for TfA's SPED initiative in SPS. For starters, SPS seems to have no problem whatever hiring totally inexperienced teachers -- who may only have had practicums as they graduate out of sped programs -- and throwing complex caseloads and disorganized classrooms at them with only occasional checkins, if any, from mentors and/or central office sped staff. Then there are the building administrators who have no idea what the standards of practice should be anyway or, in my experience, simply do not care for them in the first place. And they're the people doing the hiring in the buildings. And to top it all off, central off sped staff, should they have time to focus on a teacher who just has no idea how to work with her or his caseload or interact correctly with multi-party IEP teams esp families, serve at the pleasure of the building administrators. They have to be invited back. This was brought up in the 2007 SPED audit and not much seems to have changed since then.

In short, it's the perfect environment for the shoddy "Special Education and Ability Initiative" because of the institutionalized carelessness going on already.

Re the $700,000 accrued in CompEd claims for the recent TfA problem in SPS -- I can guess based on experience that SPS owes an amount 20xs that to students with disabilities based on the fall out of inexperienced and poorly supervised/supported new(er) teachers in the buildings.