Home » Newswire Weekly » Newswire: September 20, 2011

Newswire: September 20, 2011

Share This Story

Vol. 13, No. 37
September 20, 2011

YOUR LAST NEWSWIRE?? Next week, the Center for Education Reform, which since 1993 has been the pioneer and leader of substantive and structural educational improvements in the U.S., will launch its new, strategically focused and interactive website, providing a real-time view of how states are measuring up and what it is CER and others are doing to address the deficiencies. You’ll see new features and a new brand, as the organization enters its 18th year and, like the movement it first helped birth, comes of age. Tune into www.edreform.com next Monday for your first look. Newswire will return the following week, with new form and substance. Thank you for your longtime support and engagement. Please be sure to join us in our new form!

UNSTOPPABLE. Chicago’s teacher union is grinding its teeth over their irascible mayor, Rahm Emanuel. They didn’t support him when he ran for mayor. So Emanuel has no real reason to play nice, which he probably wouldn’t do anyway. Right now, he is unrelentingly hounding the union over turning down a two percent pay raise to teach 90 minutes longer each day. Extending the school day was part of his campaign promise and he is emphatic on keeping his commitment. He and his school chief Brizard are going school to school, seeking teacher approval to bypass provisions of the union contract that determine length of the school day and after-school pay requirements. Called the Longer School Day Pioneer Program, each school can decide how to use the extra 90 minutes, but it must be spent on instruction. Schools that sign up immediately (nine so far) get $150,000 and the teachers a two percent bonus. Furious union leaders cry “end run.” And, they’re right. They’re also afraid Emanuel will go into high-octane mode over legislation on tenure/seniority reform and to limit their ability to strike. So, the union filed a complaint with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board to attempt to stop Emanuel’s drive to expand school hours. Good luck.

ARCHDUKE OF THE DEMOCRATIC CLAN.” That’s what his political consultant partner lovingly labeled the new head of the National Education Association (NEA), John Stocks. It gets better. Jim Messina, President Barack Obama’s campaign manager announced that Stocks is “one of the smartest political operatives in the country.” With emphasis, he added that Stock’s “promotion was one of the biggest no-brainers in American politics.” That’s right. American politics. Not American education. Unions nationwide are up against the ropes. So for the sake of self-preservation it makes sense to anoint a leader whose strength is political organizing. Problem is education is about students, some who struggle for various reasons to learn. It’s about schools that for years and years and in too many cities and towns to count have refused to tap the research and improve the product they deliver. It’s about teachers who want to work as professionals, but are tripped up by hundreds of pages of work rules. Stock’s elevation in the NEA signals loud and clear that elections are around the corner and the teachers’ union is going to devote itself to winning elections, rather than focus on improving schools. Archduke? Seems more like a Duke of hazard for meaningful reform to boost student learning.

SAT SCORES FALL. . .SURPRISED? At a time when US student achievement remains stagnant, it’s amazing anyone would attribute the decline in SAT scores to more kids taking the test. The reality is that scores of all minority groups declined, and white student scores held constant. As NBC reporter Rehema Ellis commented in her expert moderation of today’s Broad Prize panel discussion, only six percent of America’s highest achieving students are on par with those of other industrialized nations. The 2011 SAT decline on every measure of the SAT (math, reading, writing, with reading scores nationally the lowest on record), coupled with the finding that for ACT scores only 25 percent of the class of 2011 meet benchmarks for college readiness in all four core subjects, clearly “shines a light on the truth – more of our students continue to be underserved by their schools,” particularly kids from low-income families. We can do better. Let’s stop making excuses.

EDUCATION NATION REDUX. Will this now second annual summit in New York City next week that gathers a veritable who’s who of industry, business, education and philanthropic sections all under one tent have an influence on how Americans perceive their schools? The attention is critical – and as we also like to say, information is power. Follow the action starting Monday, September 25, athttp://www.educationnation.com/. We’ll be tweeting live and report back on what we learn – and what we think.

CONGRATULATIONS, CHARLOTTE! Winner of the 2011 Broad Prize. A well-deserved victory for all the hard work to produce the greatest student academic gains nationally. Visit the Broad Prize for Urban Education for all the wonderful details.