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Newark Union Approves Merit Pay

“Newark Teachers Vote ‘Yes’ on Precedent-Setting Contract”
by John Mooney
NJ Spotlight
November 15, 2012

After a year of negotiations and three weeks of sometimes-brutal internal debate, Newark public school teachers and other staff ratified a historic labor agreement yesterday that will reshape pay and many rules for New Jersey’s largest school district.

Nearly 2,900 members of the Newark Teachers Union voted in the day-long balloting at the NTU’s downtown offices, a nearly unprecedented turnout, and the vote was closer than many expected. The final tally was 1,767 in favor to 1,088 against, or roughly 62 percent to 38 percent.

Union leaders who had backed the deal appeared as much relieved as celebratory when the numbers were announced, citing both the accomplishment of the pact but also the sizable numbers not on board.

Joseph Del Grosso, the NTU’s longtime president, said the agreement is only the first step in developing a workable system to fulfill it. That includes new teacher and staff evaluations and a program for performance bonuses to the most exemplary members, the controversial centerpiece of the deal.

“It’s a great vote, but it’s going to take a lot of work to put this together, that’s the tough part,” Del Grosso said.

Looking tired from a long day in which voting started at 6:30 a.m., Del Grosso said he didn’t entirely blame a third of his voting membership for casting “no” votes.

“It’s a difficult contract; it’s a leap of faith, it really is,” he said. “They took the leap, which I am grateful for. But we now have to show the members how it will work.”

Job Well Done

The plaudits came in from elsewhere, including Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson, who had staked much of her own standing on final passage of the deal.

“Congratulations to the teachers, parent coordinators, teacher’s aides, child study teams, and paraprofessionals who

Read More …

ED-lection Roundup: Superintendents

There were a total of five state superintendent races this year across the country and none of the elected leaders are supportive of education reforms, such as charter schools, school choice, or performance pay for teachers.

Two of the winners are incumbents, including June Atkinson in North Carolina, and Randy Dorn who ran unopposed in Washington. Although the superintendent race in Montana is still too close to call, current Superintendent Denise Juneau holds the lead.

North Dakota‘s new choice for State Superintendent, Kristen Baesler, does not appear to be a leader that will push for reforms that will lift the state from its near last rating on the Parent Power Index.

Education reform took a hit with Indiana electing Glenda Ritz as Superintendent of Public Instruction, ousting current Superintendent and reform-champion Tony Bennett. While newly elected governor Mike Pence holds the same pro-reform mindset as outgoing governor Mitch Daniels, there is no doubt many will be watching Indiana to see if the Hoosier State will continue to live up to its reputation as the “reformiest” state given the difference of opinions between the governor and superintendent.

ED-lection Roundup: Reform-Minded Governors

Two new reform-minded governors have joined the other 23 in the United States that support true education reform, such as charter schools, school choice, and performance pay for teachers, according to analysis by CER.

North Carolina was the only state to elect a reform-minded governor after the last governor was decidedly against changing the status quo. In Indiana, governor-elect Mike Pence will hopefully continue on the path started by governor Mitch Daniels, who signed an expansive voucher program into law and improved charter school legislation.

Six of the eleven states holding elections this year voted to keep their current governor in office: Jack Markell in Delaware, Jay Nixon in Missouri, Jack Dalrymple in North Dakota, Gary Herbert in Utah, Peter Shumlin in Vermont, and Earl Ray Tomblin in West Virginia. Only two of these reelected governors are reform-minded according to CER’s criteria.

Incumbents were not up for reelection in New Hampshire or Washington, but New Hampshire elected a governor with the same negative attitude towards education reform as the previous governor. Results in Washington are still pending, but candidate Jay Inslee, who is not a proponent of reform just like outgoing governor Christine Gregoire, holds the lead as of now.

For a list of governors in every state and where each stands on the three key education reform issues go to https://edreform.com/education-50/governor-grades/.

Georgia, Idaho, and Washington Initiatives

Before election day, we reminded people that while education is up for a vote in every state through the candidates they select, Georgia, Idaho, and Washington had initiatives on the ballot that could have major impacts education in each state.

Georgia’s students scored big on Tuesday with a 58% to 42% victory for Amendment One. The Peach State’s ballot initiative on charter schools allows local communities to create more of these important options by amending the state’s constitution to allow other state and local agencies, in addition to local school boards, approve charter schools.

Washington state’s ballot initiative on charter schools is still looking favorable for reformers with a slight lead of 51% for passage. While still not declared a victory, it looks like Initiative 1240 will open up new educational opportunities for families with the creation of 40 new charter schools over the next 5 years. A modest proposal, but it would make Washington the 42nd state to adopt a charter school law and finally bring them into the 21st century of education delivery.

Idaho’s ballot left the fate of three laws, known as the Students Come First laws, up to voters. Unfortunately, the $1.2 million in NEA funding to squash these measures paid off. Voters turned down that reforms that would have paid teachers based on performance, phased out tenure, limited collective-bargaining, and expanded online learning opportunities.

Districts Start Testing Performance Pay

Randolph Central Schools will be among the first districts in the state to develop a new performance-based pay structure for its teachers.

The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) has partnered with two school corporations — Randolph Central and Milan Community Schools — to explore ways to deliver on the new state-mandated teacher evaluations.

“The old system dictated that teacher pay was based on experience and degrees,” Randolph Central Superintendent Gregory Hinshaw said. “Under this new legislation, that will be restricted to no more than 33 percent of an increase.”

The majority will be based on performance. The idea behind the new system is to create a way for the highest performing teachers to be rewarded, Hinshaw said. Read More…

Grading Teachers Sparks Conflict as U.S. States Compete for Federal Grants

by By Esmé E. Deprez and John Hechinger
February 23, 2012

David Wright, a high school technology teacher in Middletown,Delaware (STODE1), has never taught reading or math. Even so, the state planned to judge his job performance partly on student test scores in those subjects.

That was until last month, when state officials said they would throw out a provision in a new system linking teacher performance to student achievement that assessed educators such as Wright on schoolwide performance in subjects they don’t teach.

“Judge me, fine, just let’s make sure it’s on things that I can control,” Wright, 34, and president of the local chapter of the state union, said in a phone interview. “In the rush to get it done as quickly as possible, they lost some of the logic.”

Delaware is in the vanguard of states developing new systems to evaluate teachers, according to Sandi Jacobs, vice president of theNational Council on Teacher Quality, a nonprofit research and policy group in Washington. Delaware’s struggle may foreshadow complications that New York and other states face as they follow suit. Along with questions about fairness, states are encountering delays because of the complexity of tracking data, conflicts with teachers unions and concern from researchers that the entire effort could be misguided.

President Barack Obama’s administration has made tying teacher evaluation to student performance a centerpiece of its education agenda. Changing evaluations was a requirement for winning grants in the Education Department’s $5 billion Race to the Top program, of which Delaware was an early recipient.

Changing the Metrics

The evaluations also figure prominently in a proposed $5 billion grant program, part of the administration’s fiscal 2013 budget, designed to revamp teacher pay and tenure plans.

States are developing data systems to show how

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5 Principles for Racing to Teacher Quality

By Jeanne Allen
CER President
October 8, 2009

1.) The federal government should issue guidance to states barring anti-reform school districts from receiving any “Race to the Top” funds. 
”In some school districts, it doesn’t matter whether federal and state law encourages reforms such as performance pay, because teacher collective bargaining agreements in those districts forbid reform. This little-known secret could throw a wrench in ‘Race to the Top’ funding, rendering the ‘Race’ meaningless as a reform catalyst. States should not be permitted to funnel a single dime of ‘Race to the Top’ funds to Districts that have collective bargaining agreements prohibiting, for example, the use of student performance in evaluating teachers. To send money to these districts would be to condone the ‘adults first, kids second’ mentality that has decimated learning in far too many schools.”

2.) The federal government should reward states that provide multiple pathways to teacher licensure. 
”Tying ‘Race to the Top’ funds to a dynamic, highly-talented, and evolving teacher force can yield positive changes for students. The federal government should reward states that utilize all good teacher certification options available – including true alternative certification programs that require high levels of teacher content knowledge. Studies show that well-designed alternative certification programs produce teachers who boost student achievement at faster rates. States that refuse to accept new pathways to certification are denying students access to great teachers.”

3.) The federal government should reward states that develop genuine, data-driven pay-for-performance systems. 
”States that develop and use comprehensive data collection systems to reward teachers who best improve student achievement – whether through statewide models or pilot programs – should get priority for ‘Race to the Top’ funding. While many bureaucrats claim that linking student and teacher data is impossible, the modern workforce in almost every other industry teaches us otherwise. Accordingly, the federal

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Gingrich and Sharpton – An Odd Couple for Education, But Not the First

al-newtTomorrow, on his continuing education tour, Education Secretary Arne Duncan will be joined in Philadelphia by two gentlemen who because of their obvious differences on many levels are called the Odd Couple of education.  I applaud strange bedfellows – when they make things happen for kids. With this one, I’m not so sure.

The first real Odd Couples of education led some of the nation’s most fundamental shifts in education, shifts that had once been considered radical.  Looking back through the past sixteen years, it’s clear that while education reform has changed dramatically, broad, mainstream support for bold changes in education existed then, just as they do now.  It was just much less hip to say so.

Then, policymakers who led the fight for charter schools, merit pay (as it was called in those days), vouchers and the like were accused of being part of the vast right wing conspiracy and generally anti-public education, despite the fact that such nomenclature didn’t fit then, just as it does not now. CER’s first work celebrated legislators like Pennsylvania Democrat Dwight Evans, who joined hands with Republican Tom Ridge to pass that state’s charter bill.  Miami Urban League head T. Willard Fair teamed up with Governor Jeb Bush to bring vouchers to Florida, following in the steps of Representative Polly Williams, a former Black Panther, in league with conservative Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson.

These were the first, real Odd Couples of the modern education reform movement.  They were bold, tenacious, and courageous to cross party lines, incur the wrath of unions together and suffer all sorts of education establishment slurs. (more…)


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